In orbit of Khitomer
"Please state the nature of the medical emergency."
The tall, balding human who had just appeared out of thin air stared around at the engineering section, then focused on Kalara, Prin and Kane who were gathered in front of him. His eyes widened slightly at the sight of the Borg engineer, but he remained relatively imperturbable.
“Please state the –“
"I found it buried deep in the database," a disembodied voice interrupted from one of the nearby panels. Kalara glanced away from the hologram at the image of Ianto's face floating in front of a white background. She shook her head slightly – this is taking some getting used to
"What exactly is going on here?" the holographic doctor demanded, looking from one to the other. "Why have you activated me? Where is the medical--"
"Computer, mute hologram," Prin ordered. The holo doctor continued to talk though no sound came out. It took him a moment to realise what had happened and then he started to wave his hands about, pointing at his throat and shouting at the top of his - inexistant - voice.
"He seems to be malfunctioning," Kane said drily.
"Actually, they were all like this," Ianto responded.
"No wonder they were discontinued," Kalara said.
"Computer, standby medical hologram."
The holographic doctor paused in the middle of jumping up and down, his legs and arms spread in a star pattern, mouth wide open. Kalara heard Prin snort in laughter from behind her. Even she had to admit, it looked quite funny.
Kane walked around the floating hologram, studying it. "So this is the basic matrix you want to use?" he asked dubiously.
"Just as a template,” Ianto replied. “I’m more interested in the fact that his entire program was once able to fit within a mobile emitter, a transportal holographic device that allowed him total access to his ship and even to beam down to planets.” Ianto smiled. “I just so happen to have the schematics of that emitter stored in my cortical net."
Ianto looked over at Prin. "The hologram known as the Doctor - an advanced version of this one who grew to sentience around the same time as my father - was transmitted back to Federation space from the lost starship Voyager around the time that the Dominion overran the Federation. He was trapped in the Alpha Quadrant when the communication's array he used to travel back was destroyed. His ship was ordered never to return to the Federation. So the Doctor remained and joined my father in the Resistance. A few years later, they worked together to rebuild the holo emitter using the Doctor’s memories.”
"What happened to him?"
A look of discomfort passed over Ianto’s face, one that she had come to recognise whenever he was reminded of a painful memory. Best not to ask
, she thought and took a step forward, taking the attention away from him.
"And do you really think this will work?"
Ianto cast her a grateful glance as he nodded. "Yes. I think it should be possible to create a brand new matrix based on Starfleet Corps of Engineering scans of my former body and replicate it in a--"
"Bridge to Lieutenant-Commander Kalara."
Kalara frowned at the interruption. "Kalara here."
"Sorry to interrupt, Lieutenant-Commander. We have a priority four transmission incoming from the planet."
Kalara bit back a rather coarse Klingon curse. She had been expecting this ever since the ship arrived in Khitomer space. She looked over at Commander Ly’et, who smiled.
"Don't worry, we'll hold down the fort."
Nodding her thanks, though slightly confused by the reference, Kalara began to move towards a nearby panel. Before she could instruct the bridge to put the communique through, Kane spoke up.
"My office is available if you would be more comfortable there."
She stopped, surprised at the offer. She turned to look at the Borg engineer, whose pale skin had taken on a slightly pinker shade. Is he embarassed? A Borg?
She nodded. "That would be agreable."
He pointed towards the rear of the engineering space, where a small office had been set up near the Borg alcoves. Kalara nodded her thanks, then walked in the direction he had indicated.
"Bridge, please put the transmission through to Commander Kane's office."
"Will do, Lieutenant-Commander. Bridge out."
As she walked across the engineering room, she tried to distract herself by studying the Borg alcoves. Though they still made her skin crawl, concentrating on them seemed better than the alternative. Still, she tried not to seem as though she were hesitating or afraid. Walking as quickly as she could, she held her head up high. She didn't want anyone to know how nervous she was about this upcoming conversation.
Once inside the small office, she walked around the desk and settled into Kane's chair. The monitor was flashing, indicating the presence of a waiting transmission. Kalara took a moment to gather herself, then pressed her finger to the screen.
Almost immediately, a stately Klingon woman with long white hair appeared on the screen. Her ridges were prominent, but shapely, graceful without seeming weak. Her eyes flashed with the same heat as lightning fires on the Qo'sma plains, while her lips were already turned down in an angry frown.
"Greetings, my daughter."
Elyra, daughter of Qasi, mistress of the House of Maraka, squinted at Kalara, her frown deepening.
"I see the rumors are true," she said after a moment.
"What rumours would those be, mother?" Kalara asked, though she knew all too well what her mother was talking about.
"Those are the pips of a Lieutenant-Commander, aren't they?"
Kalara nodded. "Yes, mother."
"So you were
demoted for betraying your superior officer?"
Kalara's cheeks flushed and she opened her mouth with an angry retort, but she forcibly controlled herself. Her mother would no more respect her making excuses for what had happened than she would for being involved in the events in the first place. She probably already knew more about what had actually happened than Kalara could ever explain anyway. If there was one thing Kalara had learned about her mother, it was that she had formidable resources.
"I wear my shame with honor," she said finally.
Elyra seemed to mull over a reply, then settled for a sullen nod. "Your shame lies in your earlier choices, not your current mistakes."
Kalara suppressed a sign. She had never had a conversation with her mother that at one point or another did not return to this sore subject. Elyra had never accepted her daughter's decision to join Starfleet and Kalara doubted she ever would.
"Joining Starfleet was not a shame, mother," she said, her tone short. "It was a decision based in honor."
"Honor?" Elyra spat the word. "Honor would have led you back to those who needed you. Honor would have pushed you to take up your rightful place in your house. Honor..."
"Is what I decide it should be, mother,” Kalara said firmly. “Or have you decided to deny the teachings of Cleric Lyrsa now?"
As she had hoped, the words had the desired effect. Her mother snapped her jaw shut, though she continued to glare at her daughter across the gulf of space. Kalara had known reminding her mother of the teachings of Lyrsa would force her to back down - it always did. The teachings of starv’a’kai were the only things that had held Elyra back from chaining Kalara to a rock in the basement of their family home when she learned that her daughter planned on joining Starfleet.
Her mother wasn't a woman to give up so easily, though. "Your honor is your own, daughter. But your shame is shared by your entire family. A family that would have liked to see you considering you are in system."
"I've been busy." Even she could hear how sullen and defensive she sounded. Dammit, mother, I'm not a child anymore!
"Indeed. Too busy to make time to spend with your elderly mother, who is all alone in her old age."
Kalara held back a bitter bark of laughter. Elderly? Old age? Her mother would probably bury all of them, Kalara included. Besides... "What about Kolos? He's there to keep you company."
Elyra's eyes flared, telling Kalara she had just made a big mistake. "Your brother... has decided to join the Khitomer Defence Force and fly out to the border as part of this foolish war. He believes that to regain his own honor he must become some kind of vengeful warrior and show the renegade imperial Klingons the error of their ways."
... Her younger brother had always been impulsive, full of fire born from hearing too many old stories from their grandfather when he was a boy. He had dreamed of fighting Jem'hadar, and when he learned at the age of six that there were none left to fight, he had vowed to become a warrior anyway. It looks like you got your wish, little wolf.
"He must seek his honor as he sees fit," she said. She would be the worse person to judge her little brother's choices.
Elyra shook her head violently. "He is a child. And now I have no more children."
Kalara shook her head. "Mother, please- -“
"Why do you persist in this, daughter! You have nothing. You have lost your ship, you have lost your career." She glared at her daughter. "This Federation... It is a useful tool, and these humans, and Romulans, and Ferengi, and all the others, are worthy allies. But they are not us. They are not Klingons. They cannot regain our honor for us - they do not understand why we strive so hard to regain our own. You do not belong amongst them. Not when your family needs you." Not when I need you
Her mother's words struck a cord in Kalara's core. Part of her knew that honor did require her to live up to the requirements of her family. And yet...
Her father had once taken her to see Cleric Qui'dagh, one of Lyrsa's disciples. He had left her there, in the caves beneath Boroth, alone with this old man who seemed as though he were about to turn to stone like the statues she could see wavering in the firelight behind him. She had been terrified, and yet she had knelt there before him, trying not to shiver from fear and cold, because she wanted her father to be proud of her.
After about ten minutes, the cleric had opened his eyes. Kalara had stifled a gasp at the sight of those blind-white globes. And yet she would have sworn that the cleric was staring straight at her.
"Why do you fight the cold, little one?" the cleric had asked, his voice cracked and broken like year-old bone.
She hadn't known what to say, so she had remained silent. The cleric, though, had pressed her, repeating the question three or four more times until finally she had been forced to answer.
"So that my father will be proud of me."
The cleric had nodded. "And will he give you your honor?"
Kalara could remember sitting there for a long moment, thinking about the answer to that question. She had known the clerical answer - according to the teachings of Lyrsa, every Klingon was responsible for their own honor. And yet... "My father is a great man," she had said after a moment.
Finally, the cleric had smiled. "You must find your own path, child. Your father is a great man. And yet when he reaches the gates of Stovokor, will his greatness grant him access to the fabled halls? More importantly, will his greatness grant you access?"
Young Kalara had wanted to tell the old man that her father could do anything. And when later that day he had told her that he was proud of her for not being afraid, she had even believed it was true.
Now, though, she knew better. And that cleric's words had remained with her through all the years since. Find your own path
. That path had led her far from her mother's concept of honor. It led her to the Resistance, and to Starfleet, and to Damien. It was her path and she had to walk it.
She shook her head. "No, mother. My place is here. For now."
Elyra's face froze in an angry glower. "You would abandon me, abandon your House?"
"No mother I just..."
"Don't you realise what is happening? Our race is being pulled apart. Ever since the Schism, we have been a people torn asunder. Now we are at one another's throats. What happens when battle is met? What will happen to our race when blood has been spilt? How will we ever go back to the way things used to be?”
Kalara realised suddenly that her mother wasn't talking about the Klingon race anymore. She had something more specific, more personal, in mind. "Have you heard from Molor?"
Elyra closed her eyes tight, her face drawn with pain. For the first time, Kalara truly saw how old her mother was becoming. "He has vanished even from me."
Molor, Kalara's older brother, had left the family estate on Khitomer soon after their father died. He had prepared everything months, even years in advance. All Kalara had ever been able to find out was that he had fled to the Empire and joined the Imperial Defence Force. Elyra, though, had managed to track his progress. Apparently, he had been made Captain of his own cruiser. Kalara had often wondered whether her mother wasn't actually prouder of her rebel son than she was of her daughter.
Now though... "You are afraid that they will meet in battle?"
Her mother's eyes narrowed. "I am not afraid."
Of course not. Elyra would no more admit to fear than she would to being a Ferengi. Kalara sighed.
"Mother, Kolos and Molor have followed their starv’a’kai as best they could. They do right according to their honor. If one of them falls in battle, they will do so with their honor intact."
"And leave the House of Maraka without an heir."
And so we get down to it.
Kalara closed her eyes. She had wondered how long it would take her mother to remind her of this shame.
"Neither of us are too old to have heirs, mother."
"Heirs? You speak to me of heirs? You who would pollute the house of Maraka with the blood of aliens?"
"Damien is my husband, mother. Any child I have will be a child of his."
"You would see a half-blood represent us with the Council of Elders?"
"It would not be the first time."
Elyra waved a hand dismissively. "I would rather see our house extinguished."
Kalara growled. "Do not presume upon my patience too much, mother."
Elyra growled back. "I will say what I see fit."
"But I have no need to hear it."
Before her mother could say another word, Kalara reached up and ended the transmission. A Starfleet waiting screen appeared, the twin symbols of the Federation and the Corps of Engineers spinning beside one another in the dark. Kalara stared at them, trying not to rehash the conversation and failing miserably.
, she thought after a moment. Elyra had always been a difficult woman, but she had become even more so since the death of her husband. A proud scion, she was also a famed warrior in her own right - she had fought with as much honor and bravery as her husband against the Dominion. Now, though, the only fight that remained to her was a fight to keep a hold of her home and her family, a fight she did not have the weapons to win.
Kalara's thoughts turned to her brothers. She could still see them as they had been the last time she had seen them - her elder brother, Molor, the picture of her mother's father, so stern and stormy and full of fire, and dear Koloss, who looked so much like their father, but with the calm, dreaming disposition of their uncle Mogh.
What was going to happen to them? How many other families were about to be torn apart by this war with the Empire? Kalara had not allowed herself to dwell too closely on the war currently raging along the border. She couldn't, because when she did, she began to wonder why she was here on Redemption rather than serving aboard a Klingon warship like her brother. Her ancestors' blood seemed to call out for it, but her heart returned again and again to the words of the priest.
My own path. But where is it leading me?
Shaking her head, Kalara tried to empty herself of all the fears and worries, questions and doubts her mother's words had birthed in her. She walked her own path, and the only way to gain the honor she strived for was by setting one foot in front of the other. Even if her path led her towards what she had seen in her vision.
Now wasn't the time to think about that either, though. Standing, she berated herself for a fool. You have a job to do, Kalara, daughter of Elyra. Now get on with it.
As she returned to Ianto, Kane and Prin, though, she couldn't help saying a little prayer to her father, safe in Stovokor.
Watch over your sons, father. Keep them safe.
Keep all of us safe.