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Old April 8 2010, 09:38 PM   #1
Garm Bel Iblis
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April Challenge: "The Death of Kings"

The Death of Kings

2258.87

“We must strike now!”

Chancellor Gorkon, leader of the Klingon High Council banged his staff against the tiled floors of the council chambers to silence the shouts and bellows. “Starfleet has suffered a disastrous defeat in the skies of Vulcan,” he continued. “That Romulan snake has taken the fight from their bellies.”

Councilor Porak laughed. “The Vulcan’s have no fight, My Lord. Since their Syranite Coup a century ago, they have become pacifist glob flies. They posed no threat to us, and now they are all dead!”

Gorkon pressed on. “But Starfleet and the Federation is still in shock over the attacks. They have no stomach for death! And Nero dealt it to them in numbers they have never felt. I say now is the time to march. We cross the pathetic Neutral Zone and lay claim to the rich worlds that our within our grasp.” He turned to his left, to his chief military officer and commander of the Defense Force. “General Chang, explain to these men how now is the time.”

From the shadow, General Chang, son of Chapok, stepped forward, the red lighting of the chamber reflecting off his bald head. “I am not sure the time is right, Chancellor. We suffered our own losses to Nero. Forty-seven ships and thousands of warriors. We are suffering our own setbacks with the loss of that fleet.”

Gorkon’s eyes narrowed and his voice went low and cold. “Explain to them how our battle fleets will march across the Federation laying waste to our enemies, General. Now.

Taking a deep breath, Chang reverted to his ‘academy lecture voice.’ He activated a small device in his hand and the large overhead viewscreen snapped to life. An isogrid of the Alpha and Beta quadrants appeared, showing a detailed representation of Klingon and Federation space. “Our first wave will launch from Mempa,” Chang said, regretting his words. “They will establish forward bases on Sherman’s Planet, Donatu V and Archanis IV. From their, our reserve force will relieve the forward elements and the destruction of the Federation starbases in the entire sector will commence. Once the sector is secured, we will establish our supply lines and push deeper into enemy space.”

For the next twenty minutes, he outlined the battle plans drawn up by a bunch of specialists, scientists and strategists somewhere in a bunker deep beneath Kronos. Weak little things that had never seen battle or glory. Chang, the survivor of many campaigns against ruthless foes, knew far to well that sending the Empire’s finest into battle with Starfleet could spell the end of the Klingon Empire. Unlike many on the council, Chang knew that the Federation was not weak. Terrans were a relatively young, but very violent race. They’d come out into space and within no time had found themselves in a bloody war with the Romulans.

Now they stood against the Empire’s expansion and for the past one hundred years had held the Empire in check. Gorkon was a fool to think he could just snap his fingers and order the destruction of the Federation.

When the council dismissed at the end of the day, Gorkon dressed him down. “You will represent my will and the will of the Defense Force,” he said to Chang when the room had emptied. “Not your own weak feelings on the matter. If I say you fight, you fight. If you are ordered to die, you die.”

Chang remained at attention and nodded his head curtly. “Understood, My Lord.”

The two men held each other’s gaze for long moments before Gorkon finally dismissed him and sent him on his way. As he exited the chamber, his old friend matched his stride.

“Dangerous times,” said Captain Kor as they made their way towards Chang’s office. “Gorkon thinks the Federation is a weak child that he can rob and conquer.”

“The chancellor doesn’t think all that much,” Chang said in disgust. “He sees only the short term benefits he would reap from the initial border attacks. To push into the very heart of the Federation? A group of planets that span ten thousand light-years? He’s either drunk with power or a fool.”

“Or both,” Kor said. “It’s happened before.”

They had entered Chang’s office and the general went to work at his desk, distributing messages to battle fleets, setting in motion in the plans that been drawn up. “We’re all loyal soldiers of the Empire,” Chang said. “We’re in no position to challenge him unless he’s acting dishonorably.”

“He will,” Kor said. “He will, old friend, mark my words. I am all for the expansion of the Klingon race as the masters of the quadrant, but to just charge into reckless assaults against Starfleet is foolish.”

Chang signed off his terminal and leaned back in his chair. Pouring two mugs of bloodwine, the two old friends hoisted them high. “Let us drink,” Chang said, “to the survival of our race and the glory to the Empire, not it’s present leader.”

“Long live the Empire,” Kor echoed.

Chapter:

The burning buildings and the sounds of screaming children were what angered Chang the most. He stood atop a mound of rubble, the flag of the trefoil whipping in the wind behind him. The battle for Sherman’s Planet had been swift, violent and ultimately unsatisfying. A handful of freighters and one light cruiser were all that defended the Federation farming colony on the border. Chang’s battle group had obliterated the orbiting defenders in minutes after they dropped out of warp.

Order from the High Council had discouraged the landing of large ground forces in order to pacify the civilian populations. Instead, Chang had been ordered to destroy their target’s from orbit.

In his mind’s eye he saw the women and children running and shrieking in terror as death fell from the sky. He’d stood on the bridge of his flagship, the Klothos, and ordered the gunners to target the towns and the farms, reducing them to charred ash. Kor, captain of the Klothos, had bristled. “This is no way to fight a war,” the captain had whispered.

Chang sympathized. Destroying civilians from a distance was cowardly. When the battle was over, the troops had beamed down and secured the settlements and killed those that had survived the bombardment. Chang had watched as a young girl, no more than a toddler was disemboweled and beheaded with a bat’leth as the soldiers pressed on.

“The planet is ours,” Kor said, as he made his way towards the general. The sun was just going down over the horizon. “A victory, but a hollow one,” Kor said.

“It is indeed,” Chang said. “Archanis IV is our next target, will it be more honorable?”

Kor didn’t speak for a long moment. “Starfleet is spread thin in this sector. Archanis will be much the same as this sad world.”

Cursing under his breath, Chang looked to the destruction. “Kahless save us.”

<><><>

The battles at Archanis and Donatu were much the same as Sherman’s Planet. Chang was forced to destroy a weak network of defenses in the outer systems but then marched unopposed into orbit and obliterated civilians. It was on the seventh day of their incursion that Starfleet finally mustered a response.

Three Federation ships, concealed within the nebula surround the Donatu system had pounced like saber bears upon Chang’s fleet. The battle was swift and vicious. Chang lost all but two of his ships, the Klothos was barely able to make warp two. But the Federation ships had been reduced to antimatter dust.

“They fight well,” Chang said in amazement.

“They are the ones we should be fighting,” Kor snapped. “Not their wives and children.”

Chang found that he couldn’t argue with that, but the fleet pressed on. When the beachheads had been secured and the Defense Force had established a supply line into Federation space, the fighting resumed.

As Chang predicted, it proved to be a disaster.

The Starfleet forces would route them again and again. During a raid against Trill, a Starfleet ship ejected it’s antimatter storage pods, equipped with polaric resonators. The pods had pierced the Klingon deflector shields and exploded on contact.

A four day battle in the skies of Tellar Prime resulted in the loss of twenty-nine Kling warships and their entire crew.

Six weeks into the war, Starfleet gathered it’s second wind and returned to the favor.


2358.91

“Shields have collapsed, weapon batteries are exhausted, life support systems have been destroyed.”

Listening to the litany of damage reports and casualties, Captain Kang of the IKS Devisor roared until his throat was dry. “Open a channel to the fleet,” he commanded. When the young bekk working the com board nodded, Kang bellowed into the audio pickup. “Warriors of the Empire, we stand today on the field of battle and face the gates of Sto-Vo-Kor. We give up our lives not for power or conquest, but for honor to our people and our families. The Federation stands in the way of our ultimate honor. Set your courses and send these petaqpu to face Fekhlar on the shores of Grethor.” He turned to the helmsman. “Ramming speed!”

<><><>


Chang found himself once gain in the Great Hall before the chancellor and the council.

“Your defeats are mounting,” Gorkon said over the din of jeers and curses lobbed towards the general. “Our forces have stood down foes for centuries, and we are halted now by Terrans? You sicken me.”

Before Gorkon could continue, Chang felt something snap inside him. “Chancellor, you are leading us all to ruin. Our Empire has withstood countless foes since the Hurq decimated our world a millennia ago. We have withstood them because we defended our homes and our way of life. We did not charge across a superior foes territory lashing out in ignorance, weapons blazing in stupidity. We fought with honor and courage. What you have ordered is the destruction of our ways, Chancellor.” He shed his baldric, the metal sash dropping to the floor with a dramatic crash. “It is you who have led our people to their doom. You are unworthy to lead the council and you are a coward who hides in the shadows while brave warriors fight and die at your whim.”

Chang stood on the balls of his feet, ready to defend himself. He’d thrown down the gauntlet, challenged a sitting chancellor during the time of war. There could only be one answer for that. His hand hovered over his daktag, but Gorkon managed to surprise him.

The chancellor turned to the two Yan-Isleth and said, “remove him from my sight and the Great Hall. Chang, son of Chapok, you are relieved of your duties and dismissed from the Defense Force.” Chang opened his mouth but Gorkon held up a hand, silencing him, “one word and you will die.” He clapped his hand together once, very loudly, and the two guards escorted Chang into his self-imposed exile.


<><><>

2261.55

The war raged for another three years. Billions died on both sides, entire worlds were contaminated by weapons and rendered uninhabitable.

Chang sat upon the grounds of his family’s estate on the outskirts of Kri’Stak. A small fire rippled and snapped before him. His prize, a targ that he had stalked across seven kellicams roasted on a spit above the fire. Suddenly his ears perked and his nostrils flared at the approach of someone out of the woods. He pulled the disruptor pistol from his belt and held it before him.

“Hold your fire, old friend,” a familiar voice said from the darkness.

Chang actually felt himself smile, something he had not done for a long time. “Kor,” he said, getting to his feet. The two men approached, grasping forearms in greeting. “It’s been a long time.”

“These are dark days,” Kor said at last. “We stand on the brink, Chang. Our entire civilization is on the verge of defeat.”

“I’ve read the reports,” Chang said. He’d had plenty of friends in the Defense Force that still passed along the dispatches of the continuing war with the Federation.

“This war was supposed to be over long ago,” Kor said, “and we would have stood on Earth itself, victorious and proud. But I fear that day will never come.”

“They have countered attacked then,” Chang surmised.

“The entire quadrant has allied against us on the side of the Federation. The Cardassians, the Gorn, even the cursed Romulans have joined he fight against us.”

Chang felt his stomachs wrench. Gorkon had made the biggest mistake in the history of the Empire. With a common enemy, enemies themselves became friends. “I can’t imagine that alliance is a friendly one.”

“Starfleet’s been holding them together and holding them back,” Kor said. “The Romulans wanted to set off supernovas and wipe out our entire worlds. The Gorn wanted to infect us with biogenic weapons. The Federation is holding them by the collar, demanding a cease-fire and a peace agreement.” He shook his head. “There’s this brash young devil leading the Starfleet forces. Kirk. He bested me at Organia, destroyed the Klothos and sent me home in disgrace. He’s become a curse throughout the Defense Force. Some say he’s the devil himself. But that is not why I have come.”

The two old friends lowered themselves to the ground and feasted upon the targ. “There are many on the council who would follow you,” Kor said. “They see Gorkon as a threat and a fool who needs to be dealt with but none of them is brave enough to step forward and do it.”

Chang laughed. “You want me, an outcast general and enemy of the chancellor to waltz into the Great Hall and challenge him for leadership of the Empire? He denied me once, this time he’ll just kill me on sight.”

Kor’s eyes went to the ground. “And that my friend, might just be the leverage that breaks his hold. If he refuses honorable combat the rest of the council will be unable to continue supporting him. He’ll be revealed to be the coward he is.” He smiled. “And you, old friend, will die with honor.”


<><><>

The First City of Kronos was a sight to behold. Educated and raised in its more affluent neighborhoods, Chang had come to think of it as his home away from home.
He followed Kor along the broad walkway to the base of the steps of the Council Chamber, passing the security checkpoints. Kor, coming from a powerful family merely marched through the security checkpoints, vouching for Chang as they passed one guard after another.

“How’s it feel to be back?” Kor asked, once they’d made through the security nets and were freely walking the interior corridors.

“It smells the same,” Chang said, chuckling. “Fresh targ from the galley, the scent of Var’Hama candles. It feels good.”

They came to the main double doors of the council chamber. Two guards stood with bat’leth’s drawn across their chest. “Council’s in session,” the taller of the two said.

“Stand aside,” Kor demanded. “We have important information for the council.”

“Chang?” the other guard asked. He cracked a smile and saluted. “General, welcome back. You honor us.” He punched his companion in the face. “Stand aside, fool, let the general pass.”

Chang laughed and returned the salute. “Your service honors us,” he said.

<><><>

In the center of the council chambers, General Korrd was giving his report on the ongoing conflict when the doors were dramatically thrown open.

“What is going on!” Gorkon demanded as the two figures emerged from the shadows. Then he scowled. “Captain Kor, that petak has no place here among real Klingons! Explain yourself.”

Chang pushed forward. “I will speak for myself, Gorkon. Three years ago I stood before this council and called you a coward and the rest of you fools for following him. I am here today to repeat the challenge you dismissed back then.” He took a slow step forward. “You are a coward and have driven our Empire to ruin against enemies on all sides. You are a spineless habidah and I challenge you in honorable combat!”

Gorkon gestured towards his guards. “Take this man away.”

The two Yan-Isleth remained at their posts. “Sir,” one of them said, “you have been challenged in honorable combat. Our job is to defend you from enemies and assassins. General Chang has every right to challenge you.”

Gorkon sneered at them. “I’ll deal with you later,” he growled. Standing, he threw off the cumbersome cloak of office and drew his bat’leth. “Very well, Chang. Let it be done!”

Chang drew a long dagger from a sheet on his booth.

Without another word he charged.

Gorkon deflected the first series of attacks with a twist of his blade. He side stepped and swung the bat’leth towards Chang. “So Kor found you wandering in the forest,” Gorkon said. “There are people who would pay a great deal to see your head upon a spike in the Imperial Court.”

“It is always a good day to die,” Chang said. He dodged another blow.

Gorkon growled deep in his throat.

Chang smiled. He jumped back as the bat’leth neared his throat. In that moment he saw it. He flicked his dagger up and got under Gorkon’s arm, severing the tendons on both of the Klingons wrists.

Gorkon howled in agony, his blade dropped to the ground, his hands fell limp. Chang flipped the dagger around and punched Gorkon several times in the face. Gorkon staggered, falling back towards safety. Chang kicked the bat’leth with his foot, flinging it into the air and into his grip. Holding the two-handed weapon in defensive formation he swept Gorkon’s legs out from under him.

Gorkon fell hard, the wind knocked out of him. Chang stood over him, holding the bat’leth over his shoulder, ready for the killing blow. “Be done with!” Gorkon rasped.

Chang swung the blade, beheading the chancellor in one swift stroke.

The crowd of councilors stared on in shock.

Kor cheered. “All hail, Chang! Leader of the Empire!”

The hall erupted in the cheering of Chang’s name, over and over again. The general waved them off. “I do not seek to rule. Only to preserve our race. Contact the fleets, advise them to stand down. Victory today will be won through peace not through endless war.” He took his dak’tag and sliced open his palm. Pink vibrant blood dripped onto the marble floor. “I swear my allegiance to the Klingon people. We will revive in peace what we have lost in war!”

<><><>
”Ladies and gentlemen, a new day has dawned on the Alpha Quadrant. The Federation and the Klingon Empire now stand shoulder to shoulder as allies.”

The raucous roar of applause and cheers made Chancellor Chang’s ears ring. It’d been a difficult transition from warrior to politician, but his reforms had led the way for a lasting peace that would propel the empire into the next millennium as a power to be reckoned with. With the Federation no longer an enemy at the gates his people could expand to enrich their culture and their ideals.

As he stood in the main chamber on the planet Khitomer listening to Federation President Hiram Roth proclaim the end of the war and the birth of peace, Chang felt immense pride. He only wished it hadn’t taken three years and countless dead to achieve this lasting peace.

After too much celebration and drink, he boarded his flagship and headed home. Upon returning to Kronos he dismissed his personal guards and wandered the corridors of the Great Hall alone, drinking in the vast history of the Empire, and the history that would be made because of him. He stood before a large window that offered a magnificent view of the First City and the countryside beyond. Smiling, Chang thought of Gorkon, a man driven by war and destruction, who had betrayed the ideals of the Klingon people yet had been killed in one honorable combat. He knew that leading the Empire into the future would present great risks to him and his family. But to preserve them and chart the path forward he would stand proudly and without fear. The literal weight of the world was upon his shoulders. Drawing from his favorite author, he recited:

“Be not afraid of greatness: some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon them.”
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Old April 13 2010, 08:44 PM   #2
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Re: April Challenge: "The Death of Kings"

A re-imagined Chang(and Gorkon) indeed! This is a very strong entry and I enjoyed it thoroughly.
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Old April 13 2010, 08:55 PM   #3
Garm Bel Iblis
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Re: April Challenge: "The Death of Kings"

After the contest, I've got the "unabridged" tale in my head, that encompasses the events in a much bigger way than the word limit allows. I'm really quite proud of it.
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Old April 21 2010, 04:40 PM   #4
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Re: April Challenge: "The Death of Kings"

This may well be the best contest entry I have ever read. Excellent work.
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Old May 5 2010, 12:25 PM   #5
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Re: April Challenge: "The Death of Kings"

Very nice. Chang is an honorable warrior in any reality it seems.

One little nit-pick, and i'd probably find more if I really took the time to look since I'm just a smidge obsessed with Klingon's... It is Ha'DIbaH

Anyway, very nice work.
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