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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 you 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'tarahkpu 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.


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