Kavrot Expanse: Klingon Frontier
“Sir, sensors detecting two Kreel cruisers in orbit of the planetoid.”
“Have they scanned us?” Torlek asked Cholmek.
“Negative, Sir, they have not penetrated the cloak. Also, their warp drives match the signatures detected at the sites of the freighter attacks.”
“Alert Status One, All hands to battlestations,” Torlek announced. A klaxon sounded throughout the ship. All hands prepared themselves for action. Tigranian steadied himself behind the weapons console.
“Weapons status?” Kentok said from beside the captain.
“Torpedo bays loaded. Disruptors charged and ready.”
“Sir!” Cholmek said suddenly. “I am detecting the presence of System-5 Disruptor Arrays on both ships. Our shields are vulnerable.”
“Baktag!” Torlek said slamming his hand on his chair. “Where did they get that kind of weaponry?” He knew that it was possible to fight these marauders, but with great risk to their ship.
“Sir,” Kentok said to Torlek quietly, “Perhaps it would be wiser to call in additional forces based on this new information. The attack cruiser, Kazada, is only two days away. With her weapons, this fight would be much more evenly matched.”
“Kahless himself did say, ‘The wind does not respect a fool,” Torlek begrudgingly admitted.
“But did Kahless not also say, ‘Battle delayed is battle lost?” Tigranian said from behind him. ‘Warriors must kill the snakes that lie in wait. These are the tasks left unfinished, the challenges left unmet. Ignored, they grow…”
“Silence, human!” Kentok screamed loud enough to shake the bulkheads.
“It is you who will be silent, Kentok!” Torlek said turning towards his first officer. “He may be human, but he speaks truth! If we wait we may be detected, they might call in reinforcements, or worse, they may flee and get away. We know these are the criminals we were ordered to slay, and honor demands that we complete our mission.”
“As you wish, Sir,” Kentok said glancing at Tigranian, holding back the desire to kill him with all his discipline.
“However, Son of Tigranian,” Torlek said crossing to the weapons station. “A single shot from one of those disruptors could cripple us. We need a better plan than a simple frontal assault.”
“I might have one, Sir.” Tigranian said confidently. “I know these kinds of disruptors from my studies at the Academy. They’re Cardassian, probably taken from a surplus planetary defense system. They were designed to be hard-wired directly into a planetary power grid, never mounted on a cruiser like this. They must be using some kind of high-energy conduit to re-direct energy from their warp cores to the disruptor emitter. If I can place a torpedo here,” he said pointing to a silhouette of the ship on his tactical display, “it should be enough energy to overload the conduit and burn-out their power grids.”
“You would only have time to fire two torpedoes before they could fire on us, and there’s two of those ships. You would have to hit both targets on your first attempt!” K’vresh said dubiously.
“A gunner would have to be very confident in his abilities to attempt such a feat,” Torlek said leaning forward.
“A gunner would not suggest a plan if he were not, Sir,” Tigranian flatly responded. A grin slowly crept across the old Klingon’s face.
“Prepare to de-cloak!” Torlek said moving back to his chair. “Helm, attack course at the weapon officer’s guidance.”
“K’vresh, I’m sending you the coordinates between the two Kreel ships that will give us the best firing angle. Set course, 267 Mark 5.”
“Understood…” he replied skeptically. He fully expected to meet Kahless that night with Tigranian’s plan.
“De-cloak when ready. You’ll have three seconds before you can fire,” Torlek told Daniel.
“The Kreel will remember those three seconds dearly, Sir,” he replied still inputting information into his targeting computer.
“We are set at coordinates,” K’vresh announced. The entire bridge crew with the exception of Daniel and the captain readied themselves for the afterlife. Tigranian began a countdown.
“Decloak in five, four, three, two, one…”
The Kreel were shocked when a Klingon Bird of Prey appeared out of empty space directly between them. They attempted turning to fire, but it was already too late. The Sk’oh fired two torpedoes. The glowing red spheres flew through space, arced directly underneath the pirate ships, and detonated in a brilliant flash of light.
“Reading massive power fluctuations in the Kreel ships!” Cholmek called from the operations station. Both of their primary disruptors are offline. The port ship’s shields are down to twenty percent, starboard ship’s shields are disabled!” A roar erupted from the entire bridge crew.
“Now would be an appropriate time for celebration, Daniel!” Torlek screamed from his chair. “You did it you filthy, human, Ha’DI bah! Lock disruptors on the starboard Kreel ship and fire!”
Tigranian obliged. He fired a full burst from the Sk’oh’s wingtips and the Kreel vessel exploded into space garbage.
“Come about! Lock weapons on the second ship.”
K’vresh turned the bow of the Sk’oh one hundred eighty degrees in a little more than a second. Tigranian fired the disruptors again, dropping their shields to nothing. He then finished them off with another spread of torpedoes before Torlek even had to command it.
“Qapla’!” Tigranian screamed with the same blood lust as the rest of the bridge crew. No one laughed this time. He even swore he saw a smile creep across Kentok’s face.
“The second ship is destroyed, Sir,” Cholmek said, “but I’m detecting several transporter signatures on the surface of the planet. The crew beamed down to the surface.
“We will not let our prey escape that easily!” Torlek said climbing to his feet. “Assemble a landing party. Commander Kentok, Lieutenant Cholmek you are with me, Lieutenant K’vresh, you have the bridge.”
As Torlek, Kentok, and Cholmek moved towards the doors, Tigranian crossed to them.
“Sir, permission to join the landing party.” Kentok’s smile returned to his usual scowl.
“No, Daniel, you have proven yourself enough for today. We will dispatch these honorless petaQpu’ in a matter of moments,” Torlek said patting him on the shoulder.
“Sir…please,” Tigranian said even more emphatically. Before Kentok could deal with him, Torlek grabbed the ensign’s wrist and pulled him aside.
“I don’t know why, but I like you, Son of Tigranian. But there is a limit to how much I am willing to indulge your human outbursts. Once I give a command on my bridge, I expect it followed…or I will have to kill you. Do you understand?”
“Now, return to your station.
“Yes, Sir.” The rest of the bridge crew headed for the transporter room to join the landing party. Tigranian was left alone with K’vresh.
“You were doing so well, human, and then you failed miserably. Perhaps, you don’t understand us after all,” K’vresh said without looking up from his console. Tigranian gripped the sides of the weapons station until his knuckles turned white.
On the surface, Torlek, Kentok, and the rest of the landing party materialized in the middle of a Kreel camp. Dilapidated shanties and half full cargo containers littered a clearing at the edge of a forest. The whole area was eerily quiet.
“Fan out, search for them!” Torlek said raising a bat’leth. Kentok nodded and pulled a disruptor from his belt.
“2nd Squad, come with me. Cholmek, take 3rd Squad and search to the west. 1st. Squad, stay with the Captain.”
The Klingons fanned out in every direction, searching for any sign of life. Torlek approached a hovel and kicked in the rotting, wooden door. It shattered into splinters at the kick of his boot. He stepped inside, a half-eaten meal still sat on the table. He poked at the scraps of meat and crusts of bread with the edge of his sword.
“Somebody was here just a few minutes ago…where could they have all gone?” He returned outside. Kentok, Cholmek, and the other two squads returned.
“I can smell them, Sir,” Kentok said sniffing the air. “But they seem to have vanished.”
“Baktag!” Torlek shouted again. “I will not be outsmarted by a bunch of filthy, space thieves who live by stealing from honorable…”
Torlek’s words were cut short by a disruptor blast. It sliced into Commander Kentok’s shoulder, sending him crashing to the ground. Weapons fire erupted from every direction. Seven other bekks around them were cut down. They were trapped in the middle of an ambush, and there was nowhere to run…
In orbit, Tigranian cursed as he saw the sensor feed.
“Where are they coming from?” K’vresh shouted.
“The ground is full of dolemite,” Daniel said. It blocks our sensors. There are probably tunnels and bunkers hidden over that entire encampment! They’ve activated some kind of jamming signal. We can beam down, but I can’t get a lock to beam them back up! They’re trapped…” He watched in horror as several dozen Kreel lifesigns appeared around the entire landing party. Sensors indicated that they were all heavily armed. Most of the Sk’oh’s soldiers and bridge crew were about to annihilated right in front of his eyes.
Tigranian immediately turned to leave the bridge.
“Where are you going?” K’vresh screamed at Tigranian.
“To fight at my captain’s side.”
“He ordered you to stay here!”
“Things have changed…” Tigranian didn’t stop moving.
“I AM IN COMMAND AND I SAY STOP WHERE YOU ARE!”
Daniel slowly turned back around to face the lieutenant. He was holding a disruptor pointed directly at him.
“Are you really going to stop me from trying to help the captain?”
“What help could you give, human?” K’vresh said angrily. “The last thing he commanded was for you to stay off that planet and I will not fail in my duty to see that it stays that way.”
Tigranian slowly stepped toward K’vresh.
“I know what you think of me, and I don’t care. If my choices are to stay here and watch like a BiHnuch while my captain fights for his life, or have you shoot in me in the back while I try to help him, the right decision seems very simple to me.” Tigranian turned his back on K’vresh and walked away. He half expected to be turned into a cloud of ionized vapor after his first step, but somehow, he made it to the doors and walked off the bridge.
Back on the surface, the battle did not go well. Ten more brave warriors had joined the Black Fleet in the last five minutes. Though the Klingons had made the enemy pay dearly, twenty more Kreel continued to fight hand and hand from every direction. All that was left, were the three officers and one five man squad.
Torlek turned to Cholmek. “Fall back to those cargo containers to regroup! I will cover you and then carry Commander Kentok!”
“Sir, no! You’ll be cut to pieces,” Cholmek exclaimed. Torlek reached over and held his bat’leth to Cholmek’s throat.
“I said go…” Cholmek nodded and retreated back with the other warriors. Torlek drew his disruptor and fired wildly at the Kreel as fast he could push the trigger. Four pirates fell to the ground during the barrage, but the rest managed to dive behind cover before the weapons’s power cell emptied.
With the enemy momentarily suppressed, Torlek grabbed Kentok, threw him over his shoulders, and started moving back himself. Kentok whispered through his pain.
“Leave me! I’m bound for Sto’Vo’Kor this day…”
“No, my old friend, Today is not your day to die!” Just as he finished his words, he felt a massive impact to his knee. He dropped to the ground. Kentok went one direction and Torlek’s bat’leth went the other. He managed to turn around in time to see a Kreel towering over him with a battle-ax raised over his head. Time slowed down, and a quiet disappointment passed over the captain. This was how he would meet his end: on his knees at the ends of an honor-less thief in terrible defeat. It would be many years before his house would recover from his shame…Torlek closed his eyes and waited for death. Then he sensed a transporter beam rematerialize someone directly next to him.
A bat’leth stabbed into the Kreel’s chest before its wielder slashed sideways and cut off the petaQ’s head.
“HoD peQan!” The Son of Tigranian screamed back toward the other Klingons. He stood over Torlek, placing himself between the captain and the other pirates long enough for Torlek to shake off the amazement of his rescue and pick-up his own sword.
Once he knew his captain was safe, Tigranian charged straight into the Kreel, swinging his bat’leth with the fury of a Tarkazian Razor-beast. The words of qeS’a’s Fourth Dictum ringing through his ears…. “It calls the warrior to run into the whirlwind, for this is where glory dwells.” Kreel shrieked in agony as bellies were slashed and limbs went flying. Torlek screamed to Cholmek who was already leading the rest of the squad forward:
“Attack! The Son of Tigranian leads the way to glory!” With that exhultation, Torlek dashed to Daniel’s side, and the two of them began fighting as one. By the time that Cholmek and the rest of the bekks arrived, momentum had completely shifted against the Kreel. The remaining half dozen or so threw down their weapons to the ground in a gesture of surrender. To them, a lifetime of agony in Rura Penthe was better than falling here at the hands of these demons…
In a few minutes, one of the bekks located the source of the jamming signal and the surviving Kreel were beamed to the Sk’oh’s brig. A medic arrived and was able to stabilize Commander Kentok. He opened his eyes to see Tigranian standing over him with a bloody bat’leth his tattered Starfleet uniform covered in spatters of Kreel blood.
“By Kahless’ hand….I am in Gre’thor. It’s the only explanation of why you are here.” He whispered.
“Afraid not, Sir,” Tigranian said. You are still stuck with me a while longer.” At that moment, Kentok and the medic disappeared in a transporter beam.
Tigranian allowed himself a smile.
“You know the qeS’a’?” Torlek asked walking up from behind him. “You quoted it very well on the bridge.”
“It was a very important book to me, Sir. In many ways it’s why I’m here.” Torlek placed a firm hand on Daniel’s shoulder.
“Who taught you how to fight with a bat’leth like that?” Torlek said grinning.
“A great warrior…” Tigranian replied.
“Ha!” Torlek said spitting in the dirt. “Not that great a warrior. He would be dead in disgrace right now if it weren’t for the hand of a foolish ensign who disobeyed his captain’s orders…”
* * * *
The next day, the Sk’oh proceeded back to the heart of the Klingon Empire at maximum warp to deliver the prisoners to authorities. Though he wished to celebrate, Daniel had pulled the duty officer’s shift that night. It would be a long lonely evening on the bridge while the rest of the primary crew continued reveling in their victory of the Kreel. He sat in the mess hall alone for an early dinner.
Just as he wrapped a piece of Pipius Claw in a gladst leaf, the ship’s intercom came to life.
“Ensign Daniel, Son of Tigranian, report to the Sparring Room immediately!”
“What now?” he asked, leaving the rest of his meal in front of him. He proceeded down the corridor. Captain Torlek stood in front of the doors to the sparring room.
“Hello, Daniel,” Torlek said with a grin.
“Sir?” he replied confused. “I’m due on the bridge in ten minutes, but do you need me for someth…”
“I’ve instructed Lieutenant K’vrash to cover your shift tonight. It’s the least he can do for sitting out the battle yesterday. Follow me.” He stepped into the sparring room and Daniel followed. He froze as soon as he saw what was inside.
Two raised platforms stood in the middle of the darkened room with an aisle in between. Four warriors stood on each platform, each carrying a meter long metal staff capped with an electrical prod…painsticks. The rest of the Sk’oh’s bridge crew stood on the other end of the aisle. Even Kentok was there, his arm in a sling.
A brazier burned like a small furnace directly next to the door lighting Torlek’s face in the shadows.
“Yesterday, you fought as a warrior. You saved my life, and I am in your debt. Perhaps, I can pay back some of that debt by giving you something you desire…that is, if you still want it.”
“Yes…” was all Tigranian replied.
“I cannot guarantee you will survive.”
“Then I die a warrior.”
“Very well,” Torlek said turning toward the rest of the assembly. “A Klingon’s Ascension Ceremony is one of the most important days in his entire life. Traditionally, the ceremony is conducted with his closest friends and family present. No one should go through this trial without their house standing with them…and today, Daniel, your house will stand with you.”
Torlek drew his dk’tagh and sliced open his right palm.
“SoS jIH batlh SoH…” He said before handing the bloody dagger to Tigranian.
“SoS jIH batlh SoH.” Daniel repeated as he cut open his own hand. He passed the dk’tagh back to Torlek. The captain wiped the blade clean on his sleeve and put it back into its sheath. He raised his bloody hand and Daniel grabbed it. The blood of the house of Torlek flowed into his own veins.
Torlek released his grip and grabbed Daniel’s left sleeve. He ripped it off effortlessly. Without a word, he reached for the brazier and pulled out a red hot branding iron. He pushed the glowing end into Tigranian’s flesh. It sizzled as Daniel gritted his teeth against the pain. When Torlek pulled it away, two downward facing talons were forever burned into his flesh.
“Welcome to the House of Torlek, Qapla’.”
He placed the iron back into the fire and walked to other end of the room. Daniel now stood alone.
“Begin…” Torlek commanded. Daniel stepped forward between the first two warriors.
“Today I am a warrior,” Daniel said facing the group. “I must show you my heart. I travel the River of Blood!” At that moment, the first two warriors thrust their painsticks into his side. The electrical shock was so strong, every muscle in his body clenched tight. Fire ripped through his innards. After what seemed like eternity, they pulled back. Tigranian tasted a warm, metallic ooze in the back of his throat. He spit a stream of blood across the room and almost passed out, but somehow managed to stay on his feet. Kentok moved forward with genuine concern, but Torlek held him back.
“No, he must complete this or die in the attempt…” The captain whispered.
Daniel took two steps forward, caught his breath, and shouted as loud as he could.
“The battle is mine! I crave only the blood of the enemy!”
The next two warriors shoved their painsticks into his ribs. The fire caused his vision to darken and blur. His legs waivered and he could barely steady himself to take the next steps forward. He took two massive breaths and screamed so loudly it echoed around the room.
“THE BILE OF THE VANQUISHED FLOWS OVER MY HANDS!”
The next two painsticks came. Daniel’s legs finally gave out. He collapsed to the ground on the verge of death. With every bit of his will, he pulled himself to his feet and took one more step forward.
The last two painsticks sent him back to the deck. Blood poured from his nose, mouth, and eyes. He put his still bleeding hand forward, gripped the ground, and pulled toward Torlek, not sure if he was alive or dead. However, it didn’t matter to him anymore. He was a warrior.
Torlek rushed forward and reached down to help him up.
“Ghobe’!” Tigranian shouted, refusing any help. He pulled one leg under him and pushed himself into a standing position. He saw his blood drip down from his face and splatter against the ground. As he was still trying to catch his breath, Torlek addressed the rest of the crew.
“The human, Daniel Tigranian, died here today,” he said with steel resolve in his voice. “From this moment onward, when you look at him, you will only see a Klingon warrior: Daniel, Son of Tigranian of the House of Torlek…my brother.”
* * * *
The next morning, the bridge doors opened. Despite his bloodshot eyes and gaunt face, Daniel confidently stepped forward. The rest of the crew looked at him and paused. He was wearing full Klingon armor, a dk’tagh and disruptor on his hip. The crest of the House of Torlek gleamed from his fur-covered left arm.
Torlek turned around as Commander Kentok stepped towards the newly minted SuvwI’. He stood before Daniel who raised his chin to look him in the eyes. Kentok reached up with his good arm and grabbed Daniel’s armor. He shook it to make sure it was adjusted correctly. When he was satisfied, he nodded.
“Take your station.”
“Yes, Sir,” Daniel said moving to the weapons console.
“Son of Tigranian,” Kentok said after a few moments.
“If you are going to wear that armor, grow a beard. With that clean-shaven face, you look like a newborn LIngta’ still nursing at its mother’s teat.”
The entire bridge crew laughed…including Daniel.