Chapter 1 <cont'd>
Klingon Colony Ke’VangTi
Klingon/Romulan Border, Alpha Quadrant
Massive bolts of energy emerged from nothingness to slam into a Bird-of-Prey, two-dozen defense satellites and the colony’s single orbital station with unexpected fury. Even as martially-minded a species as the Klingons couldn’t keep their shields up all the time, and as they hadn’t detected the approach of any hostile or unidentified craft, there had been no reason to do so. In less than ten seconds the planet’s orbital defenses had been completely neutralized. Only two of the targets remained sufficiently intact to warrant a follow-on strike.
Seconds later, a massive warship emerged from what appeared to be a brilliant tear in the very fabric of space/time. Nearly seventy kilometers long, the dark cylinder was studded with inelegant protrusions, like barnacles marring the hull of a seaborne vessel. As soon as the behemoth had extruded through into normal space, the subspace spectrum was overwhelmed by a cacophonous dirge that jammed every conceivable channel and disrupted the power systems of everything in orbit and on the surface.
More than fifty drone craft spilled forth from the invader, each thrusting away from the cylinder on an independent trajectory. Weapons emplacements studding the blemished surface of the great cylinder opened fire, sending streamers and pulses of energy screaming into the atmosphere of Kitumbra II. They struck surface disruptor batteries and spaceports, military infrastructure and supply depots.
Thousands were dead within the first minute of the assault, and tens-of-thousands more perished in the minutes that followed. The attack was precise and methodical, and unfolded with an exactitude that those on the receiving end could not help but appreciate, from a purely predatory standpoint.
Before their primary computer network failed completely, the Klingons identified a ninety-four percent probability that the immense craft was, at its core, an exact match for an alien probe that had transitioned imperial territory on its way to Earth some ninety years earlier, neutralizing two Klingon battle cruisers in the process. Layered upon its surface was a veritable city of artificial habitats, buildings and pressurized domes protruding from the neutronium skin of the interstellar juggernaut.
It drifted into orbit, coming to a slow stop directly above the largest settlement. The drones it had released on its approach each unfolded into large, dish-like arrays that moved into geo-synchronous positions around the planet.
In the cities and townships below, Klingon men and women having heard the cry of battle rose to collect disruptor weapons and ancient chemical slug-throwers. They took all manner of edged weapons down from mantle displays, drawing them across whetstones in preparation to meet whatever invaders were foolish enough to provoke the Klingon Empire.
When their attackers finally saw fit to show their faces, they came by the thousands in waves, materializing in a blinding storm of energy that left the Klingon defenders squinting and dazed.
They wore battle armor that dazzled the senses with flowing colors and patterns, and were armed with staffs that served as both pole-arms and energy weapons. They were daunting to look upon, and many species would have been cowed at the sight of them.
The Klingons were unimpressed, and battle was joined.
Even those Klingons grown old and arthritic struck with a power and speed that few would have believed possible, so strong was their love of both homeland and battle. Many felt they had missed their last chance for an honorable death with the end of the Dominion War, and thus charged to meet the enemy with joyous cries upon their lips.
But where the Klingons were strong, the enemy was stronger. Where the Klingons were fast, their attackers were faster still.
Disruptors blazed, firearms crackled and staffs parried bat’leths
in swirling ballets of violence that surged and ebbed through urban streets and rural fields. The Klingons fought well, and indeed some of their enemies fell in battle, but they were too few to tip the scales in the Empire’s favor.
Within hours, the streets ran red with Klingon blood, and the fields drank their fill from the veins of the dead and dying. The cities burned and crumbled, and those who had tried to avoid battle found themselves trapped in the smoldering rubble. Unable to flee and unwilling to fight, they died a coward’s death with no one to mark their passing into the afterlife.
All the while the satellite arrays in orbit supped on the death throes of the colony and its inhabitants. Energies unknown to Klingon science were drawn in from the anarchy that raged below, filling the attackers’ coffers with a fuel available from no other source.
When the battle cruiser Yowd
arrived hours later to investigate the colony's sudden silence, only a handful of the planet’s population of seven-hundred thousand remained alive. Whoever had devastated a Klingon world had done so at their leisure and then escaped without a trace.
Though the Klingons would not know the exact identity of the intruders for some time, the message had been delivered with crystal clarity.
There was a new power in play with the ability to reach deep into the Alpha Quadrant and make its presence felt.