He was certain he would be on his way to Sto-Vo-Kor
soldier who had just overpowered Worf was about to land the killing blow with his mek’leth
when a green phaser beam felled him. Worf sat up, looking in the direction of the phaser. He now knew with complete certainty that a Romulan weapon had saved him as Romulan soldiers were now shooting at the Klingon assassins. This sight still did not seem possible to Worf. From recent history, Romulans were usually on the side of Klingons who opposed any alliance with the Federation.
Rodek and his team used the distraction to get an edge on their opponents. The Ku-Vok-leth
soldiers could not believe their eyes either. They had not expected Romulans to be on the side of every Klingon traditionalists’ favorite target. On the other hand, they had also been taught that Romulans were notorious for switching allegiances whenever that suited their goals. Rodek jammed his d’k’tag
into the back of the man who had deserted him for a different target. He hardly had time to gloat when another Klingon charged him with a mek’leth
from the right. In that brief moment, he had a flash of a memory that he was certain was not his own.
“He is my brother,”
this other person whose life Rodek was remembering said. “I will not betray him.”
“Then you will
die for him,”
a Klingon who called himself Duras replied.
This other Klingon whose memories Rodek was reliving-- Worf’s brother Kurn-- was then ambushed by two assassins from both directions. Kurn put up a valiant struggle, but he was quickly stabbed in the abdomen.
The tip of the blade grazed Rodek’s right arm. He was spared further injury when Worf swooped in jamming a mek’leth
into the assassin’s chest.
“Brother,” Rodek gasped.
Worf did not let that appellation distract him from two Klingons charging at him from both sides. He was able to deflect both swords with his mek’leth
. He delivered a kick to the abdomen of the man on his right and then stabled the man on the left in the chest.
The remaining two Klingons who had ambushed Worf and Rodek were in combat with Romulans. Bat’leths
and Romulan combat pikes clanged against each other. That was until Worf and Rodek intercepted, landing blows to both enemy soldiers with the bat’leths
of fallen warriors.
The two Klingons and three Romulans exchanged awkward stares for a brief moment. From the corner of his eye, Worf noticed two additional Romulans, one male and one female sauntering towards them. The female commander was a woman of average height and with a lithe figure. She looked relatively young for someone of her rank compared to the tall man on her right with graying hair.
“Ambassador Worf,” the youthful woman said, “Commander Donatra of the IRW Valdore
“Commander,” Worf replied, still at a loss for words.
“You must not have expected Romulans to do Klingons these kinds of favors without asking anything in return,” the commander continued. “It has been a rarity even during the Dominion War, or when our peoples were allies against the Federation.”
“No,” Worf deadpanned hoping to avoid offending the unusually heroic Romulan. He had often had a tendency to stereotype alien races from Ferengi to Romulans. As a diplomat, he had tried harder to hold his tongue. But here, he was also careful not to be deceived by her charming nature. “Can I assume you are asking something in return?” he asked skeptically.
“You are the Federation ambassador to Qo’Nos. I know of your distrust of my people since Khitomer Massacre. But I do not ask anything in return. I am here as a gesture of good will.”
Worf nodded silently, needing a moment to let Donatra’s charitable act to sink in. As he understood, Romulans did adhere to a code of honor similar to that of the Klingons, but only as long as it beneficial to themselves, their extended families, or for the glory of the Empire. While achieving such ends was commendable, such an honor code was invoked to rationalize cowardly acts during Worf’s lifetime from the sneak attack on the Narendra Three outpost to the Khitomer Massacre to secretly supporting political enemies of the last two Klingon chancellors. “But at great risk to yourself,” he offered. “Your superiors may be displeased with what you have done here.”
“You needn’t worry,” Donatra replied. “I have friends in ‘high places’ to quote a human expression. Do you or your ships require further assistance.”
“No, but thank you. You have acted… honorably here today, Commander.”
“’Honor’ is a term to which many of my people have forgotten the meaning. Qa’Pla
Nog strode across the Defiant
bridge from the starboard tactical station to the port forward engineering station making sure all tactical sensors were in perfect working order. After all, the area could have been swarming with cloaked ships on the side of the Ku-Vok-leth
whose crews were trying to penetrate the cloaking shields of the Defiant
, the Sword of Kahless
, and the Gorkon
. He had matured considerably in the last three years on his way becoming chief engineer of DS9 and the Defiant. He didn’t worry so much about saying the wrong thing to a superior or pressing the wrong button. The rest of the bridge crew could see he was still visibly nervous being in the proximity of someone as tall as Ardolis Muren’Thol. He was manning the science station, and Nog caught a brief glimpse of the Martoisan exchange officer, whose cold stare was even more chilling than the scowls of Worf or Martok.
“No sign of any ships cloaked or otherwise,” Nog reported to Kira, who was looking over Prynn Tenmei’s shoulder at the conn. He took notice of Julian Bashir entering the bridge from the port egress. “If the Romulans are providing assistance to these Klingons, why isn’t in the form of their most advanced warbirds?”
“It’s gamesmanship, Nog,” Bashir answered, seating himself at the sensor station on Nog’s left. “They want plausible deniability and to say that we
violated neutral space first.”
“So they appear to be defending themselves against invasion,” Nog added with a dismissive snort. After a brief pause, he said with a slight stutter, “But what if you’re wrong? What if a whole armada is lying in wait now?”
“Relax, Lieutenant,” Kira chimed in, sauntering towards the command chair upon hearing the comm chime.
Defiant: a cargo shuttle carrying some kind of magnetic resonance chamber has just launched. Vaughn and Ro just beamed aboard the runabout and are in pursuit.”
“Understood,” Kira replied. “Get the away team back aboard, Mister Nog. Take us to battle stations. Mister Muren’Thol, status of the sensor modifications?”
“The shuttle’s hull is composed of an alloy our sensors can’t penetrate,” Ardolis plainly replied, “I am attempting to compensate, as well as increasing the range by at least a light year.”
“Do what you can,” Kira replied, while entering commands at the control panel on her left, to assure that any sudden detection of Omega did not lock out the main computer. “Prynn, give him a hand.”
“I prefer to work alone,” Ardolis calmly insisted as he saw Prynn ascend from her seat at the helm. “I have a better understanding of the technological specifications.”
“And my crew has a better understanding of this ship’s
technological specifications,” Kira shot back. “The work will proceed a lot faster if it’s done properly.”
“Understood,” Ardolis relented. To Prynn he added, “Provide whatever assistance to which you are able, Lieutenant Tenmei.”
“No problem,” Prynn muttered, walking over to the science station.
Vaughn had not yet fully materialized when he ordered the Delphi’s computer to skip through pre-flight and activate the ascent thrusters. He then headed for the transporter control station to retrieve the emergency medkit stowed in a bottom drawer to tend to Ro’s wound while flipping open his tricorder.
“Where the hell is Zeyner?” Ro wondered aloud, having quickly noticed their traveling companion’s absence.
“That’s not important now,” Vaughn replied, holding the medkit in one hand and coaxing Ro towards the piloting stations with the other. “Computer, extrapolate the course of any vessels departing the coordinates uploaded from my tricorder and lay in a pursuit course. Full impulse.”
the computer’s feminine voice responded.
“It’s not as bad as it looks,” Ro lied, as Vaughn applied a cloth tourniquet to her wound. “We knew that bastard would pull this kind of crap and he still got away.”
“Looks like you’ll have to wait another day to finally settle the score with ‘Doctor’ Zeyner,” Vaughn retorted, while applying a dermal regenerator to the lieutenant’s wound.
Defiant to Commander Vaughn,”
Kira called over the comm chime.
“We’re on its tail, Captain,” Vaughn replied. “Recommend you move into a lower orbit to intercept that shuttle should it escape the planet’s atmosphere.”
Kira replied. “Good luck, Commander.”
the computer warned. “Two thousand kilometers ahead, bearing…”
“I see it, computer,” Vaughn interrupted, noticing a shuttle emerging from the clouds. He quickly took over the main piloting controls in order to more precisely maneuver the runabout.
Three green bolts emerged from the aft of the cargo shuttle and struck the nose of the runabout. Those hits rocked the cockpit and sent sparks flying. “Romulan plasma torpedoes,” Vaughn remarked aloud.
“On a civilian freighter?” Ro asked.
“Don’t tell me the Bajorans didn’t try to reverse engineer Cardassian weapons onto those sub-impulse ships of yours.”
“It got very messy, though. Turned out to be more trouble than it was worth.”
“Tell them that,” Vaughn quipped. “Do you have phaser lock?”
“Locked onto its port thruster. Firing!”
Two phaser beams erupted from the dorsal emitter, the first grazed part of the hull and the second was deflected by the shuttle’s shielding.
“Those are Romulan shields, all right,” Ro commented of the new sensor readings on her console’s readout screen. “I’m reading a weak point on starboard ventral. If you can get us below them.”
“I’m pouring everything we’ve got into the engines,” Vaughn replied, “even any residual ions from the sonic showers.”
“What sonic showers?” Ro snapped, reminding herself she hadn’t showered in days since departing Deep Space Nine on this fool’s errand, especially not with a hated ex-lover aboard the runabout.
Vaughn just gave devilish smirk while trying to maneuver the vessel below the target and dodge enemy weapon’s fire at the same time.
The runabout swooped in below the cargo shuttle. A swath of phaser knocked out the ventral shielding. A volley of photon torpedoes erupted blowing apart the shuttle’s aft. The runabout cleared the explosion’s shockwave as quickly as it could while what remained of the shuttle spiraled down towards the surface.
With the shuttle’s hull heavily compromised, the Delphi’s sensors now could scan its interior. Vaughn’s right eyebrow twitched when he noticed a peculiar reading. “Vaughn to Defiant,” he called, opening a ship-to-ship communications channel. “It was a dummy bomb. The real one is on a ship that might have already left the system. Damn it!