Discussion in 'Fan Fiction' started by MasterArminas, Jun 7, 2012.
Next installment will be up tomorrow and then hopefully at least one a day thereafter.
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.
“Eight days? Lord Koram, I thought it would take at least eleven days to cross the Empire and Federation space for a K’mag-class cruiser.”
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-class ships!”
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.”
Cassandra Dahlgren smiled up at her classmate and shook her head. “No, Tom!” she said again. “I need to study for the literature exam tomorrow.”
He smiled. “Sausage and pepper pizza, the best in the Big Apple, Cass—and karaoke.”
Cass winced. “You know I have perfect pitch—karaoke clubs are a nightmare,” she shuddered.
“Not a karaoke club open to public—vocal arts students at Juilliard only, Cass,” he whispered as he leaned in close. Then he stood back a step and shook his head. “Don’t forget, Madame Dahlgren, you are supposed to be enjoying your freshman year as well as getting those excellent marks.”
She shook her head no again, but she smiled back at the sophomore. “I can’t; I really need to study tonight.”
“Okay . . . our loss is literature’s gain,” he said and then he trotted down the marble steps, before he stopped and turned around. “Lunch tomorrow?” he asked.
“That I can do,” Cass said with a grin.
The two waved goodbye, and Cass lifted her bag back to her shoulder and started walking down the sidewalk. She shivered against the cold wind and pulled her coat a little tighter across her body; the rehearsal had dragged on later than she thought and it was already growing dark on the streets. Luckily, her apartment was only a few blocks away.
She didn’t know exactly what triggered in her head, but something out of place alerted Cass a moment before the man lunged out of the alley-way towards her. But Cassandra Dahlgren was no mere freshman singer—she was the daughter of Matthew Dahlgren and had learned from an early age just how to defend herself.
She didn’t think, she just reacted—and her booted heel caught the assailant in the crotch, followed up by her elbow across his temple and a second kick to his ear as he sank to the ground. And then she turned to run . . . only to discover that her attacker had not been alone.
“Thought your daddy might have taught you some moves,” he said as he trained the hand phaser on her. Cass’s eyes grew wide and her second attacker smiled. “Don’t worry none, I’ll make it fast and painless,” he said as he began to move his thumb.
But at that exact moment, the third man walking down the street moved forward like lightning and he grabbed the attacker at the junction of the shoulder and neck . . . and the thug collapsed to the sidewalk unconscious.
“Wh-wh-who are you?” Cassie whispered as she began to shiver from more than the cold, as the man patted down the thug and pocketed the hand phaser. Her savior lowered his hood and she could see the pointed Vulcan ears and close-cropped hair style favored by that race.
“I am Sepak of Vulcan, and I know your father, child. Come—it is not safe to linger here,” he ordered, extending a hand towards her.
“If my father sent you, then you know the phrase,” Cass said, backing up two steps and getting ready to run.
Sepak stood and he lowered his arm. “Now is the winter of our discontent, this thing of darkness I acknowledge mine.”
Cass nodded. “Richard the Third and the Tempest—two quotes never put together by accident.”
“Come, Cassandra Dahlgren,” Sepak said quietly. “I fear there are more of them watching us. Can you run?”
“Can you keep up?”
Chapter Two (cont.)
“We need to get inside a public building and call the authorities,” Cass said as she kept looking over her shoulder at the rapidly darkening streets.
“No, Miss Dahlgren, your father has made an enemy of a powerful person—several actually. One with significant control over the local authorities,” Sepak answered as he continued walking. “Were you to be taken into custody you would shortly thereafter be dead.”
Cass jerked. “Wh-why-who is behind this?”
“A very powerful politician on the Federation Council—an Ambassador that stands a strong chance of becoming the next President of the United Federation of Planets, child. You cannot trust the authorities—you cannot trust anyone.”
She stopped and simply stared at the Vulcan, who sighed and turned around to face her once he no longer heard her footsteps. “It is not fair, it is not right, but this is the way it must be, Cassandra Dahlgren. Your father is en route back to earth—and until he finds a way to stop this . . . individual and those she commands, you, your sisters, and your mother must be kept safe.”
“Amy? Sarah? Mom? This woman is after them too?” she whispered in shock.
Sepak nodded gravely. “You are all in imminent danger—come, we cannot tarry any longer.”
Cass looked around one more time and then she began walking again, Sepak following behind her, giving directions as he watched over Matt’s daughter. “Why is she doing this?”
“Your father has made a habit of disrupting the plans of many decades—for the best of reasons, of course, with the intention of preserving the Federation. There are those behind these plans, however, that object to your father’s interference and want to hurt him as badly as he has hurt them. This woman is one of those individuals.”
“Why didn’t he contact me? Or Mother?”
“Your communications have been tapped and are being monitored, Cassandra Dahlgren. Had your father even attempted to make contact with you, you and your family would have been already killed,” the Vulcan answered in a calm, emotionless voice. “There, that door ahead on the right. The security code is four-one-seven, three-two-three, six-six-eight.”
Cass turned right at a non-descript door on the side of the one of the massive towers and she pressed the keypad in the sequence directed . . . the door popped open with a hiss and she passed over the threshold, Sepak behind her. She heard the door shut and sealed and then the Vulcan pressing in a new code on this side of the security lock. The room she stood in was empty, dark, and cold. But on the far wall, she could see faint illumination coming from an office.
“This is safe-house that I know of—one of many,” the Vulcan said as he walked forward. “You will be safe from those thugs here—do you drink coffee?”
“Yes, please,” Cass answered with a shiver as she reached the door to the office and passed from the darkness into light. The small office was well outfitted with a replicator, two desks, and a pair of computer work-stations. Sepak spoke to the replicator in Vulcan and it hummed. “Sugar? Cream?”
She heard a spoon clinking on the mug and then Sepak turned around and handed her the cup filled with the steaming caramel colored liquid. Cass sighed and she took a sip. “Thank you. For everything, Sepak.”
“Gratitude is not warranted, Miss Dahlgren,” the Vulcan answered. “Tell me, do you believe in God, Cassandra Dahlgren?”
She frowned. “I do,” she answered in a puzzled voice.
“And do you know the name of God?”
Cass set down the cup and she stood as alarm bells started ringing in her head, but the room began to spin and her vision blurred; she collapsed, but the Vulcan caught her and lowered her into a chair. He leaned over her and he smiled slightly. “The name of God is Ordan, Cassandra Dahlgren, blessed be her name. We shall discuss that and other matters at length . . . once you awaken. I did warn you not to trust anyone, did I not?”
The rest of Sepak’s words were unheard as Cassandra’s vision faded to black and her eyes rolled back into her head as she fell into a drug-induced state of unconsciousness.
Chapter Two (cont.)
The Klingon ignored the stares of the local residents as he trotted up the four flights of stairs and then turned into a long corridor. He made his way down the hall of the apartment complex, upon reaching a specific door, he came to a halt and pressed the admittance key—there was no answer. Looking both ways, he drew a small device from a pouch on his belt and fixed it to the security panel; there was a sudden click and the door hissed open.
Closing the door behind him, he quickly—but thoroughly—searched the small living residence. The coffee maker was cold, the electronic mail on Cassandra Dahlgren’s computer had not been checked since earlier this morning. He frowned as he drew out a communicator.
“She is not here,” he growled in Klingon. “It appears she has not returned from her classes.”
“We have reports that a woman meeting her description and a Vulcan male were accosted in public—the attackers are in local police custody, but she and the Vulcan have vanished,” a voice replied.
“Return to base.”
The Klingon closed the communicator and taking one final look around the small apartment, he left it behind him.
“SARAH!” Melody Dahlgren shouted as she nearly tripped over a collection of toys spread across the living room. “SARAH LINDSEY DAHLGREN!”
Her youngest daughter rushed down the stairs, trailed by Jinx the cat, even as the little girl’s older sister Amanda (who no longer liked to be called Amy) grinned from the seat in front of the piano where she was practicing.
“Yes, Momma?” her daughter asked with a broad smile.
Melody frowned down at her and then she pointed at the pile of toys in the middle of the floor. “Yours, I believe?”
Sarah frowned too. “I was coming back for them,” she protested.
“When? You went upstairs an hour ago.”
“Put them up if you aren’t playing with them, Sarah—I will not tell you again.”
The young girl began to protest, but then the doorbell rang. Melody walked over and opened it . . . and she jumped back in surprise at the two Klingons standing there.
“Melody Dahlgren?” one asked politely as he showed his identification—the Ambassador of the Klingon Empire to the United Federation of Planets asked.
“Yes,” she answered. “What can I do for you . . . Ambassador Cha’shin.”
“You could invite us in to speak, Madame Dahlgren—I am the nephew of Lord Koram, and therefore a relative of your former mate.”
“The operative word there being my former mate, Mister Ambassador. Matt isn’t here, he isn’t even on Earth—as usual. Good day, Sir,” she said flatly as she started to close the door, and looked up in surprise as Cha’shin wedged his boot in place to stop here.
“No, Madame Dahlgren, he is not here and he cannot protect his family—which is why I have been sent, to serve in his place,” the Klingon said quietly.
Melody’s face drained of color. “Protect . . . just what the hell has my ex done now that his family needs to be protected?”
Cha’shin shook his head. “That conversation needs to be held in a safer place—for you and your daughters.”
Her face turned white and she stepped away from the door. “Perhaps you had best come in and tell me then,” she said. “Welcome to my home, Ambassador—it is a mess at the moment, I warn you.”
Cha’shin snorted as he stepped inside—and then he turned to the second Klingon and barked a quick chain of orders in his native tongue. “He will remain outside on watch, Madam- . . .”
“My name is Melody, Ambassador. And I go by my maiden name now, Holder. Call me Madame Dahlgren again and I’ll skin you with your own knife.”
The Klingon laughed. “I see why Matthew married you—you have spirit, woman! I approve,” then the smile left his face. “Come, let me tell you of why your family is in danger, and then if you permit me to, I know of a place where you will be safe and secure.”
The thug shook his head and lowered the binoculars. “Klingons were not part of this deal,” he snarled softly.
“Then be grateful there are only two of them—Klingons die from phaser blasts as easily as humans after all.”
“What are they doing here anyway?” the first man asked with a frown.
“Who cares?” a third answered. “Control confirmed we get a bonus for them.”
“How much of bonus?” the fourth inquired.
“Enough to make it worth our while. Time to earn our pay, lads,” the second man—the leader—said. “Take out the outside sentry first and then we rush the house. There is just the one Klingon and the woman inside—plus her two kids.”
“Kill them all?”
The leader nodded. “That’s the word, gentlemen. Kill them all.”
Chapter Two (cont.)
Melody was shaking her head as Cha’shin quickly ran through the highlights. “Well, Matt always did know how to push people’s buttons—he certainly managed to push mine a time or two,” she whispered. “Girls!” she snapped. “Get your emergency bags from the basement; Sarah, put Jinx into the travel carrier while you are down there. Amanda, grab my bag. NOW!”
The two girls—quite obviously frightened—immediately scampered for the stairs going down.
The Klingon Ambassador nodded in appreciation at the strong woman before him. “Matthew chose you well, didn’t he?” he chuckled.
Melody glared at the Klingon for a moment, and then she sighed. “Actually,” she said with a ghost of a smile, “I picked him—he always did look dashing in uniform.”
Cha’shin started to answer, but then he suddenly snarled and cursed in the Klingon tongue. He pressed a stud on his belt and then drew his knife in one hand and a small disruptor in the other. “Get down there with your children now, my Lady,” he growled. “Our foes are here—they have just taken out my driver.”
Melody began to run for the stairs as the girls started to emerge. “Back to the basement! Both of y-. . .”
But before she could reach them or even finish her sentence, the bay windows on the eastern face of the house exploded inwards and men clad in black rushed inside. Cha’shin howled as he raised the disruptor and fired one green beam into the chest of the first man threw, while his knife flew through the air and dug deep into the second’s shoulder. The Klingon crouched and shifted his aim as three phaser beams burnt through the home and his second disruptor shot caught the third man in the stomach. And in the confusion, the cat struggled free of the youngest girl's arms and bounced in the center of the chaos as she ran for the nearest couch to hide under.
“JINX!” yelled Sarah and she rushed into the middle of the room after the cat.
“SARAH, NO!” screamed Melody as she rushed to grab her daughter—but Sarah passed close by the fourth man, who backhanded her across the living room; her little body going limp as she smashed into a glass-topped table which shattered beneath her weight.
Two more golden phaser beams criss-crossed the room and Cha’shin snarled as one slammed into his shoulder and spun him around to the ground . . . and then the assailant who had struck Sarah turned his attention back to Melody.
And he crumpled to the ground as the engaged ex-wife of a Star Fleet Captain swung the cast iron poker from the fireplace like a baseball bat and struck him right on the edge of his right eye.
The last of the attackers had his phaser aimed at Melody and he shook his head, even as the blood of the knife Cha’shin had thrown dripped from his shoulder wound; he had switched the phaser to his good hand. “Drop it,” he ordered, as he turned the phaser on the limp body of her daughter. “Or she dies. You too, Klingon—quit crawling for that weapon.”
Melody dropped the poker and her face went bleak and he nodded. “Wasn’t expecting you to have a disruptor, Klingon—but just means more money for me.”
“You imbecile, you will never live to collect it . . . I am the Ambassador of the Klingon Empire to the Federation—you will be given to my people and torn limb from limb.”
The man’s face went white, but then he nodded. “Best to finish it then,” he said as he raised the phaser and centered it on Cha’shin’s chest.
At that moment, he heard a voice to one side of him, from the stair-way heading towards the basement. “Except Daddy taught me how to hunt,” followed by two clicks. He wheeled around training the pistol towards Amanda, and his eyes grew wide as he saw the double-barreled shotgun she was holding—and then the flash of both barrels erupting in flame was the last thing he ever saw.
Chapter Two (cont.)
“Security personnel and peacekeepers arrived on the scene in minutes—but the family was gone, along with at least two wounded Klingons . . . one of which the forensics have identified as the Ambassador of the Klingon Empire to the Federation,” Jas Cruikshank reported to a wide-eyed Delena Mar. He shook his head. “Dahlgren did not stint on his house security—the moment phasers and disruptors were fired, alarms went off in Star Fleet Command as well as the local law enforcement headquarters in Hinton. Two hundred and eleven seconds after the first exchange, the officers beamed on scene—but they were too late except to secure the site and collect the four dead assailants.”
He paused and shook his head. “And his eldest daughter is missing in New York, madame Ambassador. She was seen being accosted by two criminals and a Vulcan came to her aid; both she and the Vulcan have since disappeared.”
Mar closed his mouth and she shook herself in disbelief. “HOW did this happen? I gave NO orders for this!”
The sibilant voice of the Lorsham priest hissed from the dark corner of the room. “Do you forget your place, thrall? I gave the order—Dahlgren’s family must pay for the sins of their husband and father—Ordan commands it.”
“Blessed be Ordan,” Mar replied as she bowed her head, but then she raised her eyes defiantly. “But this is not Hak’ta-thor, Prascius, this is Earth. Murder is rare here, and they will find out who was behind it!”
The priest stood and he shook his head. “They will discover a member of the Orion syndicate arranged for this assassination attempt—and that the said Orion is no longer available to answer any questions . . . indeed he is past communicating with anyone, ever again. There is no chance of them tracing this attempt to us,” he paused and looked at Mar’s aide. “A Vulcan aided the daughter, thrall? Would this be the Vulcan?” he asked as he held up an image of Sepak.
Jas nodded slowly. “That matches the surveillance video, your Grace.”
“Ah,” Prascius hissed and he bared his teeth. “Forget the family—for now. Concentrate all efforts on finding this Vulcan—unharmed if you value your own lives!”
Mar shook her head. “We need to lie low for now, Security will be absolutely out of their minds that this was ev-. . .”
“DO NOT QUESTION ME, THRALL!” the Lorsham bellowed.
And then he collected himself. “This Vulcan is the repository of Ordan—the living Avatar of Ordan and She is alone; she must be returned so that She can be served and worshipped by the Host.”
Both Mar and her aide jerked in surprise. “They cured Sepak!” the Ambassador sputtered. “The Gift failed!”
“There was an . . . unfortunate resistance to the Gift of Ordan, something in the Vulcan physiology which prevented a full conversion to the Faith,” the priest admitted. “Enough that Ordan was forced to turn her attention to breaking down the will of the Vulcan—and then Her relics were destroyed and she chose to inhabit his body. Their ‘cure’ removed the Gift, but not the presence of Ordan Herself. She possesses his knowledge, his memories, his physical body at Her command. The Vulcan is merely a shell for Ordan, for Her Knowledge and Her Wisdom—recovering Her is paramount to our task.”
Mar just stood there and then she knelt. “Then we will focus our efforts on finding this Avatar of Ordan, your Grace. Blessed be Ordan.”
“Blessed be Ordan,” the Lorsham replied with bared fangs.
Chapter Two (cont.)
Mar and Jas stood until the doors hissed shut behind the Lorsham priest and then the aide shook his head. “It is a pity that Ordan was revealed to them; they do not understand anything other than force and vengeance, my Lady,” he said quietly.
“Truth, but the Gift makes it impossible to throttle him as I so desire to do,” Mar snapped. Then she say the look on her aide’s face. “What more bad news have you for me, Jas?”
“We have heard from Lord Mak’vegh . . . his ships engaged Republic ahead of schedule,” and here he frowned, “and were defeated.”
Mar sat down and she put her face in her hands. “Dahlgren will react—he will see this as our opening salvo on him and he will return to Earth. Still, he is a month out . . .” and her voice trailed off as she saw the aide shaking his head.
“Mak’vegh did not bother to tell us at the time he engaged Republic; it was fourteen days ago.”
Mar simply sat back in her chair and sighed. “We have two weeks then to finish the job—has Dahlgren communicated with Star Fleet Command?”
“One message, direct to the office of the Chief of Star Fleet Operations . . . with a code who decryption key we lack; he transmitted fourteen days ago and has since gone silent.”
“So he knows about Balao and he knows that someone gave the Klingons the command codes for his ship . . . how the devil did Mak’vegh manage to screw THAT up?” she asked sourly.
“He was . . . unwilling to go into details, my Lady.”
Mar snorted. “I bet he was,” and she sat up and began to pull up a file. “He cannot get to Earth—Republic must be stopped. Is our agent in place aboard the Constellation?”
Jas simply stared at Mar. “We have one dose of the Gift—one! Dare we risk it now, on a ship that has not even been completed?”
“She will be ready for trials in eight days—have our agent infect her core just before Star Fleet starts the trials . . . and see to it that our newest member of the Host knows that Dahlgren and Republic must be stopped.”
Jas swallowed and he nodded. “I will see to it, my Lady.”
Mar nodded at him and she waved her handed as she opened a computer monitor on her desk. If the House of Mak’vegh could not stop this Star Fleet Captain, Mar thought as her aide bowed low and left her office, then she would. Even if it meant that the Gift must be used prematurely to awaken and convert the computer core of Star Fleet’s newest Sovereign-class Starship.
Quite a lot going on here, and very little of it good for Dahlgren’s family.
Matt owes the Klingons a lot, and they acquitted themselves honorably in his family’s defense against what appears to be a conspiracy revolving around a hegemonizing religio-mind virus of sorts.
I’ll be curious to see how Dahlgren handles all those things that have transpired on Earth beyond the reach of his immediate control. It’s one thing when you’re commanding a starship against the enemy, and quite another when they come for you in your family’s home.
Fantastic stuff, and I'm delighted to see you back writing again!
Martok, Chancellor of the Klingon Empire, sat upon his throne in the dimly lit Chamber of the High Council on the Klingon Homeworld. His left eye was scarred and sealed shut—a legacy of his injuries at the hands of the Dominion. But his right eye was wary and watchful, and he showed his teeth as one of the many Lords of the Houses gathered before him stepped forward.
“I see you, Laramm, son of Mak’vegh. Do you wish to address this Council today, in the absence of your father, the head of your House?”
“I do,” growled the stout Klingon Warrior. “The Federation has lied to us! They have deceived us! All, in an effort to keep the power of their quantum warheads for themselves, ignoring our Alliance and the treaties between our peoples! They told us all that such weapons were designed to fight the Borg . . . and then they were used against the Dominion! They told us that such weapons required a specialized launcher and were not compatible with our Klingon torpedoes! That such launchers were only available on the newest and most powerful Federation battleships!”
Laramm glared at the Chancellor, who returned his two eyes with one. “Lord Mak’vegh has proof of their perfidy!”
“Ah, Mak’vegh, who has been exiled to his estates on Sho-do-rii, has this proof you say?” the Chancellor mused. “Then let us summon him forth to this Council to present it!” Martok said as he stood.
The younger Klingon shook his head. “Lord Mak’vegh was exiled from the Homeworld, from this Council, from your presence, but you never ordered him to remain on Sho-do-rii, Martok!”
“Ah,” Martok said again as he sat. “And what part of ‘get thee hence, p’tahk, to your estates on Sho-do-rii and remain in exile until you are summoned’ did he fail to understand?”
Laramm did not answer, and Martok chuckled. “But that is for another day, son of Mak’vegh. Summon forth the Federation Ambassador to answer these charges!” he commanded.
The Klingon Lords whispered among themselves, but then the blast doors slid open with sharp hiss and a dull thud, and a line of Klingon Warriors of the House of Martok escorted the Federation Ambassador into the chamber.
“Laramm, son of Mak’vegh charges that the Federation has lied to the Klingon Empire, Ambassador. He has accused you of false statements regarding your quantum torpedoes—and he claims proof of his accusations? What does the Federation say in response to these . . . claims?”
The Ambassador lowered his hood, and Worf, son of Mogh, glared at Laramm. “The Federation has told no lies to the High Council! I dispute this claim as a falsehood!”
Laramm stepped forward and he stared at Worf. “Yet, I have proof of your misdeeds! Proof that the starship Republic, equipped with torpedo launchers equal to Klingon weapons, fired upon two Klingon cruisers with quantum torpedoes! How is it that the Federation can claim such weapons cannot be fired from lesser launchers when we have the evidence before us?”
Worf laughed, and whispers rose from the assembled Lords of the Houses. “You cite this as evidence, baktag? When did Republic fire quantum torpedoes into Klingon cruisers? Where did this take place? And if true, why did she fire in the first place? And does this mean that the House of Mak’vegh has now lost three cruisers to this one Federation Starship?”
“Yes,” hissed Martok. “These questions should be answered, Laramm, son of Mak’vegh. Do so.”
Laramm looked down at the floor, and then he spat. “I have the sensor logs from a third ship, one that escaped, that confirm your starship attacking our vessels.”
“Complete sensor logs?” asked Worf. “That I doubt, knowing of the ill-association of the House of Mak’vegh with the truth!” And the whispers rose in volume, as Worf smiled. “But I have the unedited logs of Republic in this matter and will make them available to any Warrior who wishes to see them.”
“You do not deny that Republic destroyed our cruisers?”
Worf bared his teeth in a ferocious grin. “Pakleds could destroy a ship of the House of Mak’vegh!”
The younger Klingon growled and he jumped forward, but four of Martok’s guards held him back.
“Warriors!” Worf said, as he turned to address the Council. The commander of Republic stole a number of quantum warheads, he took them without authorization; he then . . . modified his torpedoes and launchers in order to fire them, losing range and some damage potential in the process. No lies have been told by the Federation; there has been no deceit practiced upon you. He has been officially reprimanded for his actions by Starfleet.”
More whispers and few raised voices emerged, but then silence hung over the Council Chamber as every Klingon turned to the sound of Martok laughing upon his throne. “And what Warrior among you would do no less? Truth, Klingons! Given a weapon such as this, if the Defense Force told you that you could not have it, would you not have done the same? Ah, this Dahlgren has the soul of a Klingon . . . and do not forget he has taken blood-oath with the House of Koram. Besides, Warriors,” Martok said as he turned serious once more, “the Federation has shared with me the secrets of the quantum warhead and soon enough our foundries will be producing a torpedo capable of being used in our launchers. The launchers will require a refit, as it takes significantly more power to arm the weapon than our photons—but it will be available to the Fleets of the Lords of the Houses, as well as the Defense Force.”
Growls of approval rose from the floor and Martok leaned forward in his throne and he rested his elbows upon his knees. “And now, Laramm, we shall discuss exactly what your p’tahk of a father is doing in leading an attack upon our Federation allies. We will discuss this now in . . . detail.”
Chapter Three (cont.)
Martok smiled at Worf as the Chancellor entered his private office. Outside, the agonizing screams of Laramm suddenly ended in the whine of a high-powered disruptor—and the Federation officer and Ambassador winced.
The older Klingon laughed. “Worf, you are the consummate Klingon in many things—but in others you are as squeamish as a new-born babe,” he said as he sat down a PADD on his desk and poured a chalice of blood-wine. He sat down and took a deep drink of the liquid, and then he smacked in lips in appreciation. “I believe that your Federation will that information to be of . . . interest.”
“They will not approve of the means through which this information was collected, Chancellor,” growled Worf as he picked up the PADD and began to scroll through the data—but then his facial expression changed. “He has sent THAT many ships of his personal Fleet into Federation space? In pursuit of Republic? What has he left to protect his holdings?”
The Chancellor laughed again. “Very little—less than even the most minor of Noble Houses can field. A fact which I made certain my very ambitious and greedy House Lords were made aware of,” and the old man bared his fangs. “I have declared the House of Mak’vegh as traitors to the Empire—and proclaimed that any House which can seize one of his eleven system may add that system to their own domain.”
Worf nodded. “Whereas, if you used to the Defense Force to crush him, you would be seen as a tyrant; now you have made the enemies and former allies of his House alike eager to carve him up in your stead. And they say you do not appreciate politics, Chancellor.”
“I want them to say I do not appreciate politics—for it is a war by a different name, Worf. And as with all wars, I fight to win.”
Worf inclined his head slightly and then he turned back to the PADD and shook his head.
“She cannot survive against so many ships of House Mak’vegh,” he said sadly, but then looked up in surprise as Martok began to laugh again.
“Your Republic is full of surprises, Worf. Not only did she destroy two K’vorts at Camulus, she has turned back and is running for Earth,” Martok smiled broadly. “Mak’vegh had set his ambush ahead of Dahlgren’s ship—and now he is having to pursue while remaining cloaked to avoid detection in Federation space. A stern chase is a long chase, my friend. He has ordered all of his ships positioned between Republic and Earth to engage—a vain effort to make her slow down due to damage,” the Chancellor stood and he raised his chalice in salute. “She has already destroyed another K’vort, two K’tinga-class cruisers, and no fewer than five B’rel-class scouts! Eleven ships belonging to the House of Mak’vegh destroyed in detail—magnificent,” he said as he downed another swallow of blood-wine. And then he sighed. “But her journey is drawing to end—for the main body led by Lord Mak’vegh himself draws nigh unto your starship, Worf. And no Korolev-class cruiser, even one as well-handled as this one, can survive against the firepower that will be unleashed.”
Martok grinned at his adopted son. “Unless, Republic is given assistance that is . . . do you agree?”
“I do,” said Worf. “Admiral Hansen has already left his station and is rendezvousing with Republic—and there are other ships that have been diverted as well.”
“Yes, but I am thinking that since Mak’vegh is a rogue Klingon that it would be for the best if a loyal Klingon ship were there to assist as well. You are scheduled to return to Earth this week, yes?”
“Enterprise will be completing her repairs soon, and I must return to my duties aboard her,” Worf answered proudly.
And Martok smiled. “Then I release you from your service early, Worf, son of Mogh. Go, return to your Federation space—have you a Federation ship available?”
“There is a runabout on stand-by, Chancellor.”
“A runabout? For the Ambassador of the Federation? While Mak’vegh disrupts the internal affairs of the Klingon Empire and interferes with the Federation? I shall not hear of it! No, I will assign to you the K’mpec. To fufill my obligations under the treaty and ensure that you reach Earth safely, Mister Ambassador.”
Worf smiled. “And if I should happen to encounter Mak’vegh along the way?”
“Kill him. I have already informed the vessel’s commander that YOU are in command of this voyage, Worf. Qapla’!”
Okay, I'm finally caught up. *pant, pant, pant*
You sure don't do anything half way, do ya?
What a ride! I'm enjoying the intrigue, and the continuation of the Odan saga began in your last tale.
And, I have to say, I particularly liked this last scene you posted, both for the detailed mechanations you've laid out, and the interaction between Martok and Worf, which I thought was very well done.
Looking forward to seeing where you take us next.
Chapter Three (cont.)
Republic shuddered and the bridge lighting flickered as the disruptor bolts slammed into her portside shields, quickly followed by the hammer-blow impact of the torpedo.
“Port shields at 22%!” Grace called out from Operations. “Sectors 150-270 of the dorsal array are off-line!”
“Long-range sensors inoperative,” reported Amanda from the Science station.
“Roll ship, Miss Montoya—put them on our starboard side,” ordered Chan from the captain’s chair, with a grimace. The attacks were coming too fast, the crew were exhausted beyond all belief, and the constant stream of hostile Klingons had left the ship unable to effect all but the most basic of repairs. He glanced down at the repeater display of the damage control board, and he shook his head.
“They are coming about, Sir!” barked Pavel from Tactical, and Chan suddenly smiled as he recognized the maneuver.
“Miss Biddle! Prepare to lock the forward tractor on the lead ship—on my orders hold her in place! Mister Roshenko, hold fire to my command—then give me everything you have!”
“Aye, aye, sir,” both officers answered.
“Mister Malik,” Chan continued as the two Klingon bird of prey cruisers finished their turn and started a new attack run, “reinforce the forward shields.”
“Bowen here, Sir,” a voice came over the speaker, “Commander Malik is in surgery—reinforcing forward shields; it’s a mess down here, Commander, but the engines are still on-line!”
“Understood, Mister Bowen,” the Andorian answered. “Give me as much power as you can to the shields and forward tractor.”
The two cruisers on the screen parted course and then swept back into towards the Republic in an intricate maneuver that required perfect timing—and would cause their weapons to impact almost simultaneously on the same shield location.
“Now, Miss Biddle!” he barked.
The tractor beam caught the Klingon and Republic heaved as the hostile vessel slammed to a sudden halt, both ships spinning around their common center of mass despite the best efforts of the stabilizers—the bird of prey captured by the tractor sliding directly in front of her sister ship as the second vessel opened fire!
“Finish her, Mister Roshenko!” Chan ordered crisply, and a volley of four torpedoes streaked away from the Republic, even as a golden phaser beam burned into the tractored ship’s shields. It was too much for the old K’vort-class ship, the combination of Klingon disruptors and torpedoes on her belly and Federation weapons on her back—and she exploded as the second cruiser raced by over the back of Republic.
Pavel did not wait for an order, but golden beams lanced out from the stern arrays and the rear tube spat another torpedo and the Klingon ship staggered; that did not keep her commander from firing his rear torpedo and Republic shook violently again.
“Starboard shields down to 17%, forward tractor off-line,” Grace reported. “Emitters are burnt out, Commander.”
“Get us facing her, Miss Montoya,” Chan ordered. “Understood, Miss Biddle,” but then the emergency lighting dimmed and half of the bridge stations went dark. “Engineering, report!”
There was no answer.
“Engineering! Lieutenant Bowen!”
“Grissom, Sir. Warp core is in emergency shut-down—we had a coolant breach. We have impulse and battery power only.”
“Can you restore the mains, Mister Grissom?”
“Working on that, Sir.”
“She’s coming back in!” reported Amanda from the science station.
“Divert all power to forward shields, Miss Biddle, get our nose to her, Miss Montoya!” Chan snapped, but he looked at the strength levels of the forward shields and he knew that this time the Klingon would slice straight through them.
At that moment, a new starship came out of warp and interposed itself between the Klingon and Republic, and Chan sat back in his chair and he let out a deep breath of relief, as Admiral Hansen’s Blackhawk—her shields intact—absorbed the fury of the Klingon attack. The bird of prey broke off the attack and started to run—but she couldn’t outrun the salvo of eight photon torpedoes launch by the Akira-class starship and her shields flared against the first explosions, and failed, and the detonations ate into her hull and she erupted in massive fireball, leaving only debris in her wake.
The main viewer flickered and Sig Hansen, tall and blonde and immaculate in his Starfleet uniform stood there on the bridge of his flagship. “Captain Dahlgren, I hope you do not mind if we cut in.”
Chan unfastened the safety straps and he stood. “Admiral Hansen, we do not mind at all. Captain Dahlgren is not . . . available at the moment, Sir.”
Hansen nodded. “Looks like we arrived in the nick of time, Commander Shrak—I would like a full briefing, however. What exactly did Republic do this time?”
“I can beam aboard as soon as our damage control teams get the situation under control, Admiral and provide with that full report then.”
“My engineering and medical teams are standing by to assist, Republic. Blackhawk out.”
The screen returned to its view of local space and Chan nodded. “Miss Biddle,” he said softly, “you have the conn. Send the ship to yellow alert and coordinate with Admiral Hansen’s engineers.” He opened the communicator again. “Engineering, inform the bridge when warp power has been restored.”
And then Chan left the bridge for transporter room 2.
Chapter Three (cont.)
“This is all supposition, you realize, Commander,” Hansen said with a frown after Chan finished briefing him fully. “True or not, you have zero concrete evidence of Mar’s involvement.”
“Yes, sir,” Chan said with a quick nod. “Gaining that evidence is one of the reasons that Captain Dahlgren went ahead to Earth—he should arrive tomorrow, in fact. And once he does so, then we can have her brought to justice.”
Hansen shook his head and he swore softly. “This is so far above my pay-grade,” he whispered. “You are claiming that the Argellian Ambassador to the Federation Council is murdering people left and right! In an alliance with a rogue Klingon House . . . so that she can gain the Presidency?”
“Sounds like bad fiction, does it not, Admiral?” Chan answered lightly, but then a serious look came over his face. “That does not stop the matter from being quite real, however. How else can we explain that the Klingons had Republic’s command codes? The ambush that killed Sam Carmichael and the Balao? As they were carrying messages back to Admiral Parker at Starfleet Command? That our own communications with Earth and Starfleet Command are being blocked from the sub-space network?”
Hansen sighed and he sat back in his chair. “We haven’t been able to raise Command either—not since Parker commed me with orders to come to your aid. And before you ask, Commander, I have already changed the command codes aboard Blackhawk.” He shook his head. “This will tear the Federation apart if it becomes public knowledge—especially after the infiltration of our government by the Founders during the War.”
“That rather depends on how it is spun—and whether or not we can find evidence that will stick to Mar. And whether or not Matt simply kills her for threatening his family,” the Andorian finished quietly.
Hansen looked up and he just stared at Chan for several moments. “Will he go that far, Commander Shrak? You know the man far better than I.”
“Yes. If she has tried to make good on her threat, he will kill her, damn the consequences. He will not try, he will find a way and she will die.”
Both men were silent for a moment, and then the admiral nodded once again. “Well, that is a matter that we will have to deal with when we arrive at Earth. What is the condition of Republic?”
“Lieutenant Grissom has warp power restored—we can be underway in fifteen minutes,” and Chan shrugged. “We have damage throughout the ship, however. Shields are capable of only fifty-percent strength, the ablative armor is in tatters, a third of our phaser emitters are damaged and off-line, the forward tractor is a write-off, and we have lost all long-range sensors. We also have thirty-two dead and a large number of wounded—and our torpedo magazines are below half.”
He shook his head. “On the good side, neither impulse engine has been damaged. The starboard nacelle took a direct hit yesterday from a decloaking K’tinga, but the secondary systems are on-line and holding. In short, we are half-blind, and lost a lot of our punch, but we aren’t lame—not yet.”
“Admiral Parker said that other ships were en route to provide you with assistance, Commander. When and where they will appear, I have no clue—but I do know that word from the Klingon Empire is that Mak’vegh is charging after you with half of his House Fleet. So how about we get back in warp on a heading for Earth before he charges up our backside with more firepower than either of us can deal with?”
“Aye, aye, Sir,” the Andorian answered as he stood.
Chapter Three (cont.)
“Miss Madsen? Are you still with us?”
Lara jerked upright, and she shook her head. “Sorry, Dr. Woolsey,” she stammered. “It won’t happen again.”
The hologram stared at her for a moment. “How long has it been since you slept, Nurse?”
She thought for a moment and frowned. “Day before yesterday?” she guessed.
Woolsey clucked his tongue and now he frowned. “Well, Blackhawk is sending personnel across to assist,” he looked out of the Sick Bay and he cleared his throat to get everyone’s attention. “Once they arrive, I want everyone assigned to Medical to report your quarters and get at least four hours of sleep—six would be better. NO EXCEPTIONS. Now, then,” he said turning back to the young nurse. “What is the condition of the symbiote?”
“It is not responding, Doctor,” Lara answered softly. “Mister Malik remains in a coma—the host body should recover, but the symbiote remains in critical condition.”
The EMH frowned again. “It should have responded to the treatment—if the diagnosis is correct,” he took the PADD from Lara and scrolled through the data again. “I want another cellular scan of the symbiote and the host—let’s see if we missed anything the first time around, Miss Madsen.”
“I will prep the Commander, Doctor.”
“Keep me informed,” Woolsey said as he walked over to another patient. The doors to sickbay slid open before he reached the bio-bed, however, and fresh, rested medical personnel from the Admiral’s ship began to enter—and the Doctor smiled.
“Wonderful—glad you could join us. I am Doctor Woolsey, acting Chief Medical Officer Republic. My people will brief you before they catch some shuteye.”
One of the newcomers came to a halt and he stared at the hologram. “Where is Doctor Talbot?” he asked.
“Doctor Talbot is with the Captain, Doctor . . . ?” Robert answered and asked.
“Halloway. Who is in charge here?”
Robert Woolsey frowned again. “I am, Doctor Halloway. This is my sickbay.”
“Not anymore—I want a briefing on the condition of all patients before each of you Republics go off-shift.”
“Pardon me, Doctor Halloway, but this is my sickbay—you are here to assist me.”
“Computer, end EMH,” the doctor from Blackhawk ordered.
“Unable to comply without command override authorization,” the computer broadcast.
“The Captain of this ship values me as a Starfleet officer, not merely a hologram, Doctor Halloway,” Woolsey said in a cold voice. “My program has been altered to prevent anyone from ending my program on a whim. Now, if you will join me in my office, I will brief you on the patients and we can assign your personnel to their duties.”
“I don’t take orders from a hologram!”
“In this sickbay, you will either follow my instructions or you will be removed from the ship!”
Halloway smiled. “You haven’t the authority.”
Woolsey tapped his holographic comm badge. “Sick-bay to Security. Escort Doctor Halloway to Transporter Room 3 and return him to Blackhawk; inform Commander Shrak my full report will be forthcoming.”
“On our way, Doctor Woolsey,” a voice answered—and Halloway’s smile slowly faded.
“Holograms do not give orders on Starfleet vessels!” he insisted. “Not when properly relieved by actual medical personnel!”
“Doctor, you have not relieved me. And you are not here to relieve me. You were assigned to Republic to assist me. And you will either do that while obeying my orders, or I will have you clapped in irons and removed from this ship!”
The doors slid open again and two burly Marines entered the Sickbay. The senior nodded at Doctor Woolsey. “Is there a problem, Doc?” he asked.
“That depends if next words out of the mouth of Blackhawk’s junior surgeon are ‘aye, aye, sir’ or not.” Woolsey said in a somber voice. “And if the words are not ‘aye, aye, sir’, then you will remove him from my Sickbay and from this ship, and I will write a formal complaint into his permanent file. A compliant that Commander Shrak will endorse, I might add.”
The Marine shook his head and chuckled. “Don’t think he’s joking, Sir. He’s not, and the XO will back him.”
Halloway’s shoulders slumped and he whispered, “Aye, aye, Sir,” through gritted teeth.
“Excellent!” said Robert Woolsey with a grin. “Thank you, Corporal Danforth—I think that will be all.”
“Anytime, Doc, anytime,” the Marine answered as he turned to leave.
“And now, Doctor Halloway, if you will join me in my office, we can discuss the conditions of my patients and the duties I expect your people to carry out. Shall we?” he asked with a wave of his hand.
“Qapla’, Matthew!” Koram barked at Matt, Quincy Talbot, Chris Roberts, and Alvin Thiesman as the four Starfleet officers stood on the warship’s transporter pads—all dressed in civilian clothing. Banner, under the command of Lieutenant Turovik, assisted by two members of the crew, had been dropped off twenty-four hours before and was now approaching Vulcan. With that part of their cover intact, Matt and his small band had travelled to Earth aboard Amar. “We will remain here in orbit . . . ostensibly to give my crew a chance to experience the many cultures of Earth and enjoy a few days of rest and recreation. Should you need us, we will be prepared my brother.”
Matt nodded briskly. “I have no doubt of that, Lord Koram. Have you managed to contact Cha’shin?”
The Klingon shook his head. “No . . . and that worries me, Matthew Dahlgren. Are you certain you trust this officer you hope will aid you?”
“Ben Maxwell? Koram, I trust him as much as I trust you.”
“Ah. I hope then that you find success, Matthew—and that your enemies will deliver themselves into your grasp.”
Koram turned to the crewman standing at the transporter controls and the barked out a series of command in the Klingon tongue. Matt raised his hand to his chest and he nodded at Koram as the device began to hum; then he and his companions dissolved within a curtain of light.
The quiet night was broken as a transporter beam emerged from nothing and then the forms of the four men solidified, the curtain of light surrounding them fading away into darkness once more. Although momentarily distraught by the sudden burst of light, the crickets and frogs once again began to chirp and croak.
“Right in the middle of nowhere,” grumbled Quincy. “And Starfleet Security will probably be beaming in right behind us to find out who is beaming down here in the middle of the damn night!”
“Relax, Doctor Talbot,” Matt said as he started walking. “Koram beamed down, and then right back up again, seventy-two Klingons from his ship—calibrating his systems, he is telling Security right now. Of course, he didn’t realize that Security frowns on such activity and will shut down the transporter units—at least that is what he is going to tell them. Security does respond to unauthorized beam-downs—but they are going to be hard-pressed to get to us immediately since more than a dozen took place before the Klingons energized our transport.”
Matt stepped onto a gravel road running through the fields and took a left. “And if they do beam in? We are four humans out for a stroll on autumn eve—not Klingons.”
The doctor snorted. “And won’t they ask us why we are out and about for the night? And query our IDs?”
“Certainly,” Matt answered. And except for the chirping of the crickets and the croaking of the frogs and the crunch of the gravel beneath their boots, the night grew quiet once more.
Finally, Quincy sighed. “And what, O Great and Powerful Oz, will we do when they discover that all four of us are supposed to be aboard a Federation Starship heading towards the borders of the Federation?”
“Mister Thiesman, would you care to answer that?”
“Aye, aye, Sir. Doctor Talbot, I changed everyone’s ID back aboard ship.”
“You hacked the ID? I was under the impression that is impossible!”
“Nothing is impossible, Sir. I may be a Marine—and enlisted at that—but I know a few tricks. They won’t pass muster for a full security examination, but a cursory reading, in the field, in the early hours of the night? The overlay will show us as local residents, with only a few minor infractions against our records.”
“Minor infractions?” asked Chris as he kept scanning the woods to either side of the road with his eyes. “Why on earth would you give any of us a criminal record?”
“Because in the real world, Mister Roberts,” the Marine answered, “very few people are fine, upstanding citizens that volunteer for Starfleet. People get in altercations; they drink too much real alcohol; they drive too fast; they do dumb things—and nothing in the universe sets off alarm bells in a Security officer’s head like someone with an immaculate past.”
In the distance behind them, there was a distant hum of a transporter beam.
“Eyes front, gentlemen,” Matt said, as he continued to walk. “You were saying, Mister Thiesman?”
“Yes, sir. Mister Roberts, once the Security officer looks at your ID, sees that you are from this area, a local who has never left home, sees that you have been detained four times in the past ten years for brawling and intoxication, he is going to mentally slot you into ‘harmless, local, yokel’. The Security beaming in now, they aren’t local—they don’t know you and they don’t expect to know you—but they certainly know people like the ones with your record.”
Ahead of them on the road, another transporter trace suddenly appeared, and two Security officers in armor and helmets suddenly appeared.
Matt stopped and he nodded. “Evening,” he said calmly. “You here about the Klingons who beamed down a few minutes ago? Back that way?” he said pointing towards the fields on the far side of the woods.
One of the Security officers frowned. “How did you know they were Klingons?”
Matt chuckled. “Because they beamed down in that field and we could see them from the road. Beamed down and beamed right back up again—is the Starfleet running an exercise tonight?”
“Identification,” the guard demanded. Matt shrugged and pulled out his card, passed it over. One by one, the others did the same.
“Why are you folks out this time of night?”
“Our wives are throwing a baby shower for that young man’s missus. We got out before the estrogen levels began to peak. Old Bill Maddox has a pub right down this lane . . . about another kilometer and a half ahead.” Matt smiled again and he leaned close to the Security officer. “Thought we might toast him starting up a family—you boys want a drink?” He asked as he pulled out a silver flask from his jacket pocket, the sharp smell of real whiskey rising in the night air as unscrewed the top.
The officer frowned, but the second one handed back the IDs and nodded. “Clean,” he said.
“Be on your way then,” the first said. “But don’t even think about driving if you are drinking real whiskey.”
“Why the hell do you think we are walking, officer? For our health? My old lady will skin me alive I get in trouble with the law again,” Matt thundered.
“Just you watch yourselves—the local constabulary will be at that pub in force if any of you start something,” the second officer warned, frowning at Chris.
Matt shook his head sadly. “We never start anything, officer—but we have finished it a time or two.”
The officers gave him a dirty look again as Matt raised the flask in salute and took a deep pull, then one of them spoke into his communicator and the pair beamed away. “Care for a snort, gentlemen?” Matt asked.
“No, sir,” answered Alvin. “Thank you, no, Captain,” replied Chris.
But Quincy grabbed the silver flask and pulled down a long swallow. He sighed and sealed the top before passing it back over to Matt. “I thought you were never going to ask,” he complained. “And how far much farther is it? My feet are already aching.”
“Bill lives in town not far from the pub. Just about fifteen hundred meters or so on down this road. As the crow flies,” he qualified his remark as the captain started forward again.
“As the crow flies? And how far, exactly, would that be as the doctor walks?”
“About three kilometers, give or take.”
“Well, we couldn’t beam in too close to town, Doctor Talbot.”
“Oh, my aching bunions.”
Chapter Four (cont.)
Benjamin Maxwell, Commodore in Starfleet, cursed as he stubbed his toe against a piece of furniture in the darkness of his home as the door-bell rang yet again and some fool imbecile banged on the wood! He gritted his teeth and shook the sleep from his head as he made his way down the stairs and turned on the foyer and exterior lights. The knocking on the door came to a halt and Ben tightened his robe around his body. He paused at a table near the entrance and slid open one drawer, extracting a civilian model stun-only phaser from within, which he placed in one of the robes pockets, cradled in one hand. And then he opened the door.
And he took a quick step backwards in surprised shock upon seeing the four men who were officially many light-years distant.
“Sorry to wake you, Commodore,” Matt Dahlgren said, “but I need your help.”
Ben shook his head in disbelief. “I did not need to hear this, Matt,” he said as he stood up from his chair, still shaking his head. “Delena Mar—Ambassador Mar of Argellius—the woman who is poised to become the next President of the Federation—is trying to kill you and your crew? You believe that she has already been behind the attack on Balao? And she is working hand-in-glove with a Klingon renegade?”
He walked over to the sideboard and poured himself a stiff drink, downed half of it in a single swallow, and then refilled the glass.
Matt nodded. “She is a threat to all that the Federation stands for, Commodore. I know it—now I just have to prove it.”
“I would suggest, Matt, that you not use my rank if you want my help. Christ, my counselor will think I have lost my mind,” he continued. But then he nodded. “Josiah authorized this?”
“He did, Ben. But until I know that he has found the person who leaked Republic’s command codes, I cannot make contact—if Security discovers I am on Earth, and Mar finds out . . . my family is in tremendous jeopardy.”
Benjamin Maxwell’s face fell. “Matt,” he said softly as he poured another glass and handed it to the Captain of Republic. “Your family has already been attacked,” he finished, but held up one hand as Matt jerked in his chair. “They are missing . . . not dead, Matt, but missing. Along with the Klingon ambassador. Security is livid—and there are four dead men in your ex-wife’s home. They want answers.”
Matt took a deep pull of the whiskey, restoring some—but not all—of the color to his face. “Cha’shin has them somewhere safe,” I hope, he thought, but did not say. “Cass?” he asked.
“She was attacked on the same day in New York, Matt. She disabled one of her assailants and a Vulcan—tentatively identified as Ambassador Sepak came to her aid and stopped the second. They have both vanished as well.”
Matt looked up. “Sepak? I was not able to get in touch with him—the Vulcan Science Academy said that he has taken a sabbatical and he is out of contact.”
“Really?” Ben whispered. “Then how did he know your daughter was in danger?” He paused and licked his lips. “How certain are you that your treatment of the Ordan virus was successful, Matt?”
“He appeared in full control of himself—the Science Academy gave him a clean bill of health, Ben.”
The Commodore groaned as he sat back down in his chair. “Matt, how much of a background check did you run on Mar?”
“Everything Republic had in the database. But there is a large of section of her records that are classified above my pay-grade.”
Ben nodded. “But not mine. Fifteen years ago, Mar was Lieutenant Mar, a science officer in Starfleet, where she was assigned to USS Hera as part of the crew that explored the Cauldron—and made First Contact with the Lorsham.”
“Oh shit,” Matt whispered.
“Exactly,” the commodore continued. “Her current staff all consists of former crewmen and officers from Hera—her aide, Jas Cruikshank, was Hera’s chief of security. All of their service records have been sealed—by an anonymous order from the Federation Council issued ten years, the same year that Mar became the Argellian Ambassador to the Council. But they didn’t manage to seal the records in Starfleet HQ . . . and I did some digging on my own after your court-martial and seeing what Mar was trying to do to you and Republic then. Did you know that the Lorsham sent a delegation to Earth?”
“They were here for six months before Hera returned them. Supposedly returned them,” Ben said with a sad smile. “They sent nine diplomats to Earth, but I can only confirm that eight were transported back to Hak’ta-thor.”
Matt slowly nodded. “Without the Ordan-artifacts, they cannot produce their bio-weapon, Ben. But this does explain why Mar seems to hate me so much.”
“Yes it does, Matt. But we have no proof—only a working hypothesis. So what do you need from me?”
“Clean IDs to get through Security and use the planetary transporters; phasers; communicators that cannot be traced. I’ll try and leave you as far away from the splatter as I can, Ben.”
“Too late for that, Matt. You know the old saying, in for a penny, in for a pound. Well, looks like I am in for a gold sovereign.”
“Don’t thank me yet, Matt,” Ben warned as he sat back. “We might not get anywhere with this, and if we do not find proof that she has been infected, she might wind up becoming President.”
“One way or the other, she will not, Ben,” Matt said coldly. “Even if it means I have to kill her myself—she will not become President.”
Ben Maxwell, a man who once took it upon himself to prove that the Cardassians were violating their treaty—a man who had killed to prove that to himself and others in Starfleet—just nodded.
“You have my word, Matt. If it comes to that, I will see to it that your family remains safe—once we recover them.”
Matt nodded and he took a sip of the whiskey. “Then shall we begin planning this forlorn hope?”
Unfortunately, all, real life has gotten in the way of my writing. And my muse has abandoned me. Right now, I think I need to take a little break and clear my head, so this story is officially now on haitus.
Sorry about that.
I'm sorry to hear this, and hope that both real life and your muse come to their senses in short order. And I'll be here waiting for more of this exciting story when they do.
I will be resuming this story sometime today. In the meantime, I have had some thoughts on a ship that we are going to see in the near future. You can see it (and the discussion) at this link: http://forums.spacebattles.com/threads/uss-republic-your-thoughts-star-trek-au.240411/
Be warned, there are spoilers in there, but I'd appreciate any feedback you might have to offer. The design is NOT mine, but is based off a drawing by Simon Toygall which I modified in paint. Let me know what you think, and the next snippet should be up in a few hours time.
Separate names with a comma.