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Eight Years Prior

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

Stardate: 44246.9

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

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

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

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

Tigranian stepped up on the transporter pad and turned around.

“You really chose this as your first assignment?”

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

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

“What wrong with Klingons?”

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

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

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

“Of course.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Yes, Sir.”

“So you know our ways?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“We shall see, Daniel, Son of Tigranian.”

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