Class-M planet Alanthal
The native Alanthalians of this continent favored sweeping, palatial architecture, not completely dissimilar to Terran French Baroque or the Green Period of Efrosian construction. It was into this mélange of blocky but garishly ornate buildings and buttresses that Lar’ragos materialized.
It took him less than a second to feel the presence of others nearby, entirely too close for comfort. He spun around, reaching for the phaser sidearm he’d requisitioned in the transporter room. With the weapon not yet halfway out of its holster, Lar’ragos came face-to-face with a chagrined looking Lieutenant Leone, decked out in an unfastened tactical vest hastily thrown on over his uniform and cradling a phaser rifle. Two of Europa’s
Starfleet Marine contingent flanked the young officer.
“XO’s orders, sir,” Leone launched preemptively.
“Where the hell from?” Lar’ragos asked hotly.
“Simultaneous beam-in from transporter room three, Captain.”
Lar’ragos grunted sardonically. “Well, in that case, welcome to the party.” With that he turned and walked away, his three-man security detail trailing behind him.
The locale appeared to be a central government complex, with ostentatious bureaucratic buildings interspersed with meticulously cultivated gardens and park areas. If the planet had been subject of an attack by either or both of the intruder species, it certainly hadn’t happened here. The only things that appeared out of place were mobile Klingon surface-to-orbit torpedo batteries and disruptor cannons that had been stationed in courtyards and some of the park grounds.
The complete absence of people did trigger Lar’ragos’ suspicion, however. “Take a scan. Is there anyone around or is this all for show?”
One of the Marines tapped at the combat tricorder built into his forearm gauntlet. “I’m reading both Alanthalian and Klingon lifesigns in the surrounding structures, sir.”
The Klingon security team that intercepted them was good, very good. Lar’ragos usually had a sixth-sense for knowing when he was being watched, but the stealth-suited commandos were on them in an instant without having registered on the Marine’s tricorder.
A dozen disruptor toting men became visible simultaneously as their mimetic armor deactivated.
Lar’ragos cast a suddenly mischievous glance over his shoulder at Leone and the Marines before looking towards what he assumed to be the commanding officer of the intercept cadre. In his most guttural Klingon, Lar’ragos proclaimed, “Take me to your leader!”
* * *
They and their Klingon escorts entered a cavernous audience chamber, now emblazoned with Klingon banners bearing the imperial trefoil.
The venue was conspicuously devoid of native Alanthalians, none of whom Lar’ragos had yet laid eyes on. Brigadier Gan’Louk was seated in a large, throne-like chair, surrounded by portable computer work-stations manned by Klingon technicians. Holographic screens projected onto the walls between the gaudy imperial banners denoted activity in orbit as well as on the planet’s surface.
Lar’ragos moved away from his escorts, making a beeline for Gan’Louk. A Klingon bodyguard who interceded crumpled to the floor so quickly Leone hadn’t the opportunity to see what his captain had done to the man.
Gan’Louk looked up from a padd, clearly unimpressed and seemingly unconcerned. “That was uncalled for, Commander,” he assessed gravely.
‘What is the meaning of this outrage?” Lar’ragos hissed, his whole frame vibrating with barely contained anger.
Gan’Louk fixed the El Aurian with an inscrutable expression. “Specify.”
“You’ve invaded and conquered a pre-warp civilization as well as started hostilities with two intruder formations!” Lar’ragos fairly shouted.
“Your ship went in to transwarp drive over a standard month ago and vanished, Commander,” Gan’Louk explained in an unaccountably reasonable tone. “Now you emerge from the ether, unaware of how events have unfolded in your absence, yet frothing at the mouth and making unwarranted accusations.”
Lar’ragos pointed a visibly shaking hand at the Klingon general. “You just couldn’t pass on a chance to try and show me up, could you?”
“Have care, Commander. My patience with your theatrics wears thin,” Gan’Louk warned. “I allowed your unauthorized intrusion into what is now Klingon territory, and have thus far been a cordial host.” Gan’Louk rose to his feet unhurriedly, his eyes locked on Lar’ragos. “I am the commanding general of this theater, and I will tolerate no more insolence from you.”
Lar’ragos was unmoved. “I’ll give you twenty-four hours to gather your people and get off th—“
The crack of Gan’Louk’s back-handed strike reverberated throughout the largely stone chamber, followed by the echoing slap of Lar’ragos body hitting the floor and the surprised grunt the blow drew from him.
“Perhaps you did not hear me, Pava?” Gan’Louk stood his ground atop the dais, near the chair, looking down at where Lar’ragos lay sprawled on the ground. “You’re obviously not yourself, which is a pity. If we are going to settle our differences, I’d rather you be in full command of your inestimable abilities.”
Leone and the Marines stood by, their hands kept carefully away from their rifles as the Klingon commandos continued to hold them at disruptor-point.
Lar’ragos scrambled to his feet, his face a rictus of outrage, his eyes burning with an unnamed fury. “Get down here, and let’s do this,” he called out.
Gan’Louk threw off his outer cloak, revealing a powerful body moving beneath a thin fabric covering. Though his armor paid homage to traditional Klingon garb, it had obviously been designed to allow for ease of movement, with segmented plates that shifted fluidly with the brigadier’s frame. He spoke not another word, but stepped down to the level occupied by Lar’ragos.
Lar’ragos struck, but he seemed to be moving in slow motion in comparison to the brigadier. Gan’Louk blocked Pava’s blow and responded with a lightening-quick grab and throw that resulted in Lar’ragos rolling inelegantly across the cobblestone-like floor before finding his feet again. “You see that I did not blind you, nor tear out your throat as you taught me,” Gan’Louk spoke as if lecturing to a class of students.
Again, Lar’ragos rose to his feet, his gaze fixated on Gan’Louk. “You arrogant little shit,” he growled between clenched teeth. He moved forward with surprising speed from a dead stand-still as Gan’Louk stepped back to absorb the oncoming fury of his attack.
A flurry of blows followed, parried by equally fast defensive counters before the two men closed the gap between them and grappled furiously. Lar’ragos dropped to the ground, executing a leg-sweep that accomplished nothing more than eliciting a laugh from Gan’Louk as his leg absorbed the impact like the trunk of some great, unmoving tree.
In response, Gan’Louk reached down and snatched Lar’ragos up by the scruff of his uniform jacket before throwing him a full five meters across the chamber to collapse heavily to the floor. “Clumsy,” the brigadier assessed. “Clumsy and
slow. Today, it would seem, is not your day, Pava.”
Lar’ragos let loose a guttural cry as he charged headlong towards the general. Gan’Louk stepped to the side gracefully for someone of his size, delivering a crushing closed-fisted blow to Lar’ragos’ sternum that stopped the smaller man cold in mid-stride. The El Aurian’s whole body shuddered with the force of the impact, and he sank slowly to his knees as a soft groan escaped his lips.
“I did not stop your heart,” Gan’Louk continued, “nor did I break your neck.”
Lar’ragos shook his head, rallying his reserves as he attempted to rise.
Gan’Louk touched a hand to the nape of Pava’s neck, performing a textbook Vulcan nerve pinch that immediately rendered Lar’ragos unconscious. The brigadier lowered Lar’ragos gently to the floor before standing to address the other Starfleet personnel.
“Return your captain to your ship, and tell your first officer to beam down as soon as practical,” he commanded. “Inform your ship’s surgeon that Lar’ragos is likely suffering from the aftereffects of a temporal fugue, brought on by your transwarp displacement. An infusion of neutrally-charged chronometric particles directed at his hippocampus might theoretically correct his condition.”
Gan’Louk directed his grim visage at Leone. “Do you understand your orders, Lieutenant?”
Dominic licked his lips unconsciously before replying, “I do, sir.”
The brigadier turned his back on them, waving a hand dismissively in their direction. “Then be gone.”
* * *