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Old September 8 2012, 11:10 AM   #2
Count Zero
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Re: August 2012 Challenge - Number One

***

It had only taken them three weeks of some old-fashioned relentless investigative journalism to make Martok agree to an interview. At first glance, that fact might have seemed disappointing if looked at as a measure of his endurance. But after Newsnight's first week of taking a good, hard look at the corruption pervading the Empire, accompanied by asking the tough questions, one of his nephews had resigned, and several other well-connected people had found themselves out of a job. It had not been enough to appease a small but persistent protest movement which had first appeared by the end of the second week and whose members were still camping outside the Great Hall.
What did Brivan or even Tamaris matter now? Will was still riding on the longest wave of euphoria he had ever experienced in his life as he prepared for the interview that would begin in a few minutes, going through his notes once again.

Martok appeared in the studio, as disgruntled as ever. Will rose to greet him.

“Welcome to Newsnight, sir. It's an honour.”

“I wish I could say the same.” the former general grumbled and sat down.

“Don't worry,” Will said in a confidential voice, leaning slightly towards the mighty man. “I won't ask you any of the personal stuff that has come up lately, you know, like whether your ties with Worf mean you're a Federation puppet.”

In the control room, Mekh and Doran exchanged slightly panicked looks. What the hell is he doing? Mekh wondered. But before she could voice her concerns, the countdown to the live broadcast began, the title specifically designed for this special broadcast rolled and Will welcomed the viewers.

“Chancellor Martok, right now, there are 200 people camping in front of the Great Hall in protest against corruption and nepotism and for more particpation by the citizens. What would you want to say to them?”

For several seconds, Martok stared at him silently, visibly angry. Apparently, he did not appreciate the philosophy of addressing the giant targ in the room first.

“I would like to say to them that I intend to keep my promise of purging our great Empire of corruption.”

“I'm sorry, sir, but that's a non-answer. What measures have you actually taken to fight corruption? What are your...”

“Are you accusing me of being a liar?” Martok interrupted him. But before he could answer, the fearsome warrior was already lifting him out of his chair. “Who the hell do you think you are? I'll make you pay for your insolence.” the Chancellor bellowed, hit him in the face three times and threw him to the ground.

Will did not even fully grasp what was happening because it was all happening so fast. One moment he was still trying to figure out what had set the politician off, the next he already found himself on the floor, bleeding from his nose. How could this big guy be so fast?

“I'm going to kill you.” Will heard Martok say from somewhere above him, and the tone of his voice told him that he meant it. His survival instinct kicked in, making him get up on his feet in an instant. In the meantime, Martok had drawn his d'k tahg.

“You're really going to kill an unarmed man?” Will asked him with a shaky voice, his eyes fixed on the blade in the Chancellor's hand.

“Why not? You don't deserve any better. You have no qualms about ruining the honour of good men, loyal men. What gives you the right? A thief who thinks he can lecture others about honour.”

Mekh burst into the studio and threw a mek'leth on the desk. Her intentions had been good and a part of Will loved her for trying to give him a chance in a fight he could only lose. But with that simple act she had unintentionallly condemned him to his death. Despite his blustering Martok was not the man to kill someone who was not armed, Will had figured. But now that he had access to a weapon he could only chose between not taking it which would mark him as a coward for the rest of his life or take it and thus become a legitimate target for Martok. He took the blade.

“You think it was tough growing up in the Ketha Lowlands?” Will answered back. Why not? He figured. “You have no idea. Growing up on the streets here, what options did I have?”

Martok looked at him as if he had lost his mind. “A convenient excuse. When crime didn't work out for you, you turned to prostitution. And you dare lectures us about ethical behaviour?”

“It's an honest job. 'A prostitute lies only half as often as a politician' and all that. Really, that's it? Tell me, who has been in charge of the Empire for centuries without making an end of poverty? Who was responsible for the Praxis explosion and all the other environmental disasters that have turned the Homeworld and many other planets into a hellhole? It weren't prostitutes. It was you, the warrior caste!”

He tried to surprise Martok by attacking him on his left side, the side where he was blind. Martok grabbed his hand before he had gotten very far, then he felt agonising pain explode in his left side. As he looked down he saw Martok twist the knife in the wound and collapsed to the ground. The warrior kneeled above him, eager for the kill now.
Panicked, Will realised that he planned to pull out the knife for the killing blow. Of course - he couldn't even get a decent death. Killed by a knife like an idiot or the victim of an assassination. Remembering the mek'leth still in his hand he turned it around in a surprisingly elegant move he did not even know he was capable of and handed it to Martok who took it.
While he raised his right arm for the final blow, time slowed for Will and he had a few moments to appreciate the surreality of the scene – the Chancellor hovering over him, about to kill him with his father's own mek'leth. He wondered why he had even kept it around.

“Sentimentality always kills you.” It was something his father used to say. There was some irony in his last thought being of his father, the man he had despised so much all his life. With his luck, the old fairytale of the Barge of the Dead would turn out to be true and he would spend the rest of eternity listening to the old scumbag's collected useless wisdoms.

Martok's arm halted in mid-air.

“Do you have any children?”

“Why?”

“To continue the line.”

“What line?” Will said weakly.

“Never mind.”

Martok swung the blade back again. A second later, Will heard the blade crash into the floor where it stuck, just inches from his face. As quickly as Martok had been upon him he was gone, grumbling something to himself.

Mekh and Doran were beside him an instant later.

“Well,” Will croaked, “If that doesn't put us at number one, I don't know what will.”
__________________
"Now and then we had a hope that if we lived and were good, God would permit us to be pirates." Mark Twain, Life on the Mississippi

Last edited by Count Zero; September 8 2012 at 07:12 PM. Reason: Corrected a typo and some formatting
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