Chapter One (cont.)
“Captains Log, USS Republic
, Stardate 53758.2. I have left Commander Shrak in command of Republic
with orders to return to at his best speed to Earth. In the meantime, I, Doctor Talbot, Lieutenants Turovik and Roberts, and Marine Corporal Thiesman are aboard the gig Banner
in tow by the Romulan Warbird Nei’rrhael
. Commander Borahn is well aware that time is of the essence—and he has provided us with hard data that Starfleet’s latest estimates on the performance of the Valdore
-class are sub-optimal. For the past three days, the Warbird, with us in tow, has maintained a speed of Warp 9.7; although I cannot tell without active sensors how long her engines can maintain this velocity. Regardless, it is a higher speed than we expected. High enough, in fact, that we shall enter Klingon space within the next hour.”
“There should be a Klingon fast cruiser waiting for us; Chancellor Martok believes that he owes me a debt due to my actions in the Cauldron—and I find that I am not above calling in that favor to hasten the return to my family. The Chancellor is well aware that Lord Mak’vegh is responsible for the attack on Republic
, and he has warned Command Shrak to expect more. Although technically in exile, Lord Mak’vegh commands a powerful House in the Empire, with scores of ships answering only to him—and he desires the power of the Chancellorship.”
“It could be coincidence, this attack on my ship and crew by Mak’vegh at the same time that Balao
was destroyed by forces loyal to Mar. It could be . . . but I fear that it is not. If Mar and Mak’vegh are working in collusion, one with the goal of becoming Federation President, and the second seeking the Klingon Chancellorship, my problem with Delena Mar has escalated from a personal one to one that threatens the entire structure of the Federation. If she is willing to use the Klingons to eliminate loyal Starfleet officers—and she has already shown a willingness to threaten civilians—she must be stopped. I intend to get to the bottom of this matter—no matter what the consequences.”
“Computer, save log,” Matt said quietly as Banner
continued to coast in tow through space.
“The Romulans have disengaged their tractor, Captain,” Lieutenant Roberts reported from the operations station. “They have turned back and are reentering Romulan space.”
“Thank you, Mister Roberts. Bring sensors on-line and power-up the nacelles. Lieutenant Turovik, hail the Klingons.”
The Vulcan frowned. “There are no Klingon vessels on sensor, Captain Dahlgren.”
“They are out there, Mister Turovik, hail them.”
Matt watched his instruments as the warp drives finished spinning up, and he eased the throttle forward, quickly crossing the Neutral Zone that marked the Klingon/Romulan border and entered into Klingon space. As he did so, he keyed a new sequence into the controls and the deflector shield grid activated.
Ahead of the gig, the stars shimmered momentarily and then a ship began to appear as it dropped out of cloak. Smaller than a Vor’cha
, smaller even than a Bat’leth
, the ship was still long, lean, and her horned command pod promised lethality.
“Klingon ship decloaking dead ahead, Captain!” Chris called out. “K’mag
-class scout cruiser!”
“I see her, Mister Roberts,” Matt answered. “Hail her again, Mister Turovik.”
“She’s asking for you by name, Captain Dahlgren,” the Vulcan replied.
“On monitor, Mister Turovik.”
The small monitor screen to Matt’s right sprang to life, revealing a Klingon Captain seated upon his throne-like command chair. “We are prepared to receive you—stand by for tractor beam!”
And the screen cut off.
“Not all that friendly,” Chris whispered.
Matt chuckled. “Just wait until they serve us lunch, Mister Roberts.”