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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.

"RRRRRRAHHHHHHH!"

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."

"jIyaj."

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?"

"Miral."

"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."


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