Chapter One (cont.)
“You should challenge and kill her, in the Klingon way, Matthew,” growled Koram, after he spat on the floor of his quarters. “This Mar is . . . without honor.”
Matt shook his head. “That is not the Federation way, Koram—although it may well come to that, my career be damned.”
The Klingon laughed bitterly. “My House is no Great House, Matthew, but we are no Lesser House, either. If it comes to that, I can offer you asylum. But now I see why Martok himself requested that I meet with you. Were you aware that our nephew Cha’shin is serving as the Ambassador to the Federation at this very moment? That he—and the Warriors responsible for his security—are on Earth today?”
“I was not.”
The Klingon bared his fangs in a grin. “I shall contact him immediately—do not fear, Matthew; your family will not see his Warriors, but they will be there watching. Cha’shin values . . . subtlety rather than brash action, but he knows honor!”
And Matt bared his teeth in response. “Qapla’
! I owe you, Koram.”
The Klingon snorted and then he took another deep pull of his blood-wine. “It is merely part of the debt that I already owe you, Matthew. Think nothing of it. Besides, we shall be in Earth orbit in eight days,” he said with another smile as Matt frowned.
? Lord Koram, I thought it would take at least eleven
days to cross the Empire and Federation space for a K’mag
His host laughed. “As originally constructed, Amar
would have taken twelve days to reach Earth from here. Luckily for you, Klingon spies are still the best at our trade,” he chuckled as he tossed Matt a PADD containing engine schematics.
Matt whistled. “That’s the LF-45 warp drive from the Intrepid
- and Andromeda
Koram shrugged. “Originally . . . but now it is the STN-11A engine of the Imperial Klingon Navy! You will notice that we made some . . . alterations
to avoid being accused of duplicating the design exactly.”
The captain of Republic
snorted. “You changed the Bussard collectors—hardly essential proprietary information!”
“The collectors are part of the warp drive, though, are they not, my brother in blood? Amar
has the honor of being the first ship refitted with the new nacelles—and she has proven capable of achieving twice her old speed for brief periods of time! She is the fastest ship in the entire Klingon Fleet—at least until her sisters begin to emerge from dock.”
“I will have to report this to Starfleet, you know that,” Matt said as he sat down the PADD, but Koram shook his head and laughed again.
“It is all part of the Great Game, Matthew. Your Intelligence people will spend their time hunting for our spies that uncovered this—while in the meantime, we are free to work upon another project entirely. One that I hope will include your Ambassador Mar and a dozen warriors with pain-sticks,” he grinned and then barked out another laugh. “Besides, the Chancellor authorized you to see that information—who am I, the Lord of a House, to question the wisdom of the Chancellor?”
“He wants Intelligence hunting for his mole,” Matt said sourly, “a mole who has probably moved on to other tasks.”
The Klingon laughed and he slapped one hand against his knee. “You know the Game well, Matthew. But for now, we should speak about how you wish to handle this . . . dishonorable female.”
Matt smiled. “Beside Cha’shin, I have another friend on Terra—several actually who should be watching out for my family until I can arrive. As to what I intend . . . that will be based on what I find once I return home.”
Koram nodded. “I understand, and I think that I shall request of the Federation a berth to allow my crew rest and relaxation once we arrive at Earth. I have two hundred Warriors aboard this ship, Matthew—they are at your command if you have need of them.”
“I thank you, brother—but you could find yourself outnumbered and outgunned by Mak’vegh if he is working with Mar. It was his ships that ambushed me—and probably his ships that took out Sam and the Balao
Koram poured more blood-wine into his chalice and grinned broadly. “If that p’tahk
comes after me and my ship, then he will discover for himself if that
day is a good day to die!” And Koram raised his chalice high.
Matt raised his as well and the two tapped their drinks together, then both men—the human and the Klingon—drained them and slammed them down on the table. Koram stood. “Come, the chef will have finished burning the tarq in your honor—and your crew will probably be grateful if you divert my Warriors attention from them.”