#5--Civil War (part four)

Location: (Quo’Nos) Bridge, IKS Valkyre

Turning around, Reggie addressed the communications officer, “Patch me through to the Axel,” he commanded.


“Yes, Sir,” the warrior replied, as he made the connection. “Coming on screen, now, Sir.”


Reggie turned to face the view screen, “Ready to make history, Captain?”


Korav looked at Reggie's face on the viewscreen in confusion. "What....are you talking about?" The captain apprehensively glanced at the massive blip on his sensors. 'Please don't tell me....' He thought to himself.

“It’s a simple plan, really,” Reggie started to explain. “That monstrosity may be a thousand times our size, but even elephants fear mice. Essentially, we’re going to run up it’s leg, and start clawing away at some of it’s most sensitive areas.”


Korav turned to the rest of the bridge.

"You're joking," Selvine deadpanned without a moment's hesitation. The ship was huge, and they had already exhausted a lot of their arsenal. "Elephants also eat their own shit," she pointed out skeptically. Seriously. Reggie needed to work on his metaphors. She didn't feel like dying today in the name of poetry. 


"Who's up for getting the hell out of here?" He asked the crew.

Selvine smirked in affirmation. 

Selvani smiled, he had a hundred plans from a dozen lifetimes and running away didn't fit with any of them. "Sir, I think we should stay." He said, voicing the opinion shared by the debatably suicidal worm in his side.


“Suit yourself,” Reggie said, “but if we fail, you won’t be able to get far enough, fast enough. What do you suppose they’ll do to the crew that killed General D’k tang, and blew up KLF headquarters?” Turning back to his younger brother, he said, “Max, why don’t you tell Captain Korav what he’s won.”


“Sure thing, Reggie.” Sounding every bit the game show host, Max said, “The Captain will be forced to watch his crew being beaten, raped, violated with foreign objects, and tortured. He’ll see the pleading, betrayed look in their eyes as they beg for death. He’ll hear them cry, scream and curse him for not allowing them to fight with dignity.”


“But wait, there’s more,” Reggie urged his brother on.


“Right, you are, Reggie,” Max continued. “After days, (possibly even weeks), of needles, drills, acid, hot coals, and probes; after broken bones, flayed skin and rats chewing on his bound and weakened body; he’ll receive a formal and televised execution. His body sliced, diced, and chopped up to feed the tarqs of the honorless Klingons aboard that ship. ”

Serious once more, Reggie turned back to the view screen, and told Korav, “You’ve just won the Klingon lotto, Captain. You will either live victorious, or die a heroic death, but you cannot turn back.”


"I hate your people." Korav growled, hand massaging the front of his face. "I just wanted to tell you guys that before we die...."

Reggie smiled, “I thought you’d say that.”


Down in the infirmary, Kim could hear the exchange on the bridge, through the intercom. She looked over at Ernie. The EMH seemed to have two, and only two, expressions: smug and perturbed. Right now, she thought he looked smug, and expectant--this is what he was created for, after all. She felt calmer with the hologram nearby, but did he even understand what death meant, she wondered.


Back on the Valkyre, Reggie nodded at the Communications officer, and he in turn, began transmitting data to the other ship. “Capt. K'Vara cut a gash over two miles long across their main Engineering section on Deck 1,” he said. “They’ve already re-routed power to shields across their forward hull to compensate for this.”


"That things' backup shields are putting out 50,000 more terrawatts than the Axel's primary shields." Korav noted. "Reggie, this sounds an awful lot like a suicide attack."

“Maybe, but it’s the only opening we’ve got,” Reggie answered. “We have to fly close enough to her hull, that they’ll have trouble shooting us, without hitting themselves. We’ll have to be fast, and random, because they’ll be expecting us there.”


“This is the target,” Reggie indicated an area smaller than the Valkyre, deep inside the Honor Blade’s Engineering department, on the design drawing he’d transmitted earlier. “Their primary inertial dampers.” He looked back up at Korav, “Hit them hard enough, and the walls will be covered with pink blood within five seconds, then the ship explodes a few seconds after that. So, be prepared to get out fast.”


"Korav?" Selvine interrupted.


Korav gave Selvine their 'Hold on, I'll talk with you later' gesture. He turned back to the viewscreen.

"Looks like we'll have to board them." He said, scrutinizing the diagram. "Target's too small and too well-armored for our weapons."


“I’ve got Kira and Kor’Nan heading up boarding parties,” Reggie said. “Just damaging the unit will cripple them. Depending on the skill of their engineers, and what kind of backup they’ve got, the Honor Blade could be a sitting duck for the Imperial fleet when it returns.”

I'll have my helmsman work up a flight path and coordinate it with your helm. We've got five minutes before the Honor Blade comes into range." Korav looked towards the sensor console, shaking his head. "I suggest we keep our heads down until it gets here. You got a cloak on that thing?"

“Are you kidding,” Reggie told him, “we can teleport and fire while under cloak, and I intend to.”

"Right then, see you there." Korav said, cutting the channel. "Mr. Torr...." He said.

Selvani was grinning like an idiot, knowing this was the reason he left home, so they could have adventure and face death on an hourly basis. "Sir?" he asked responding to a call he almost missed.

"Plot a course that will bring us closest to the Honor Blade without it spotting us, and

"Korav, this IS a suicide mission," Selvine finally broke in angrily. "I don't know about all of you, but throwing my neck on the line for some Klink civil war was NOT on my to-do list today, nor do I think it was on anyone else's! This started as a straight-up merc mission, remember? NOWHERE did we agree to this shit - why exactly are we not on the other side of the galaxy by now?" 

"Well, he's got a point, Sel." Korav sighed. "That thing's probably capable of shooting us from a lightyear away. We won't get far running. Might as well stick around near Qo'Nos and do SOMETHING."

"The thing about 'probably,'" pointed out Selvine snidely, lightning crackling irritatedly between her fingers, "Is that we've still got a chance. Flying INTO the Honor Blade leaves a lot less of one."

"We can argue about this later..." Korav was interrupted by a blip on the sensor screen. "Who's that shuttle heading for us?"

Turning angrily back to her console, Selvine ran as much of a scan of the shuttle as she could without being picked up by the Honor Blade's sensors. "I'm reading Calvin and Daius, and an unknown Terran female," she reported, forcing as much of the resentment out of her voice as possible. It wasn't much, though, 


Before the shuttle had even begun to dock, Calvin (D’eVo) spoke up; “Could you keep the channel open, Roq?” Without waiting for a response, he addressed his captain: “Korav! I sent a data packet out over an old PA satellite system I was able to hack. Did you get it?” Again, without pausing for an answer, D’eVo rambled on … “There’s a massive power supply at the engineering junction of that monster. If we can somehow hit that without being blasted into a bloody mess …” Before he could finish (and not aware that the Valkyrie and Axel were already planning what he was trying to explain), D’eVo’s briefing session was cut off by the gruff, perturbed voice of Korav …

"I'm not in the mood to hear it, Cal. Just dock that thing in the shuttle bay and meet me in transporter room 1," Korav said, getting up out of his chair.

Selvine jumped up in alarm as she saw him about to leave. "Where are you going?!" she half-demanded, half-shrieked. 

"My first job was as an infantryman, so I'm getting a piece of this boarding action. You're in charge up here until I get back." Korav said, patting her on the shoulder.

"Korav!" protested the XO angrily. "How the fuck am I supposed to get you out of there? What if they've shielded against a transporter lock? And you're gonna be outnumbered like a thousand to one and we won't have any way to provide you with backup! If we've got to do something this stupid, at least stay as safe as you can - let Reggie's guys focus on the boarding party."

"I don't trust their boys. They're too idealistic, too green, and too damned suicidal. If anyone's getting the job done, it'll be our crew." Korav replied. "Also, you see these things?" He pointed at the hull of the Honor Blade. "They're escape pods. We'll take those to get back to the Axel. We'll be carrying transponders, so you can pick us up."

Goddamnit, he wasn't listening to her at all today. "Fucking moron!" she protested vehemently. Once Korav had made up his mind, though, she knew it couldn't be change. In vain, she threatened, "I swear to God, Korav, if you get yourself killed I am going to take this ship and hack it up into little bits and sell the metal to be made into fucking Barbie Dolls just to spite your goddamn ghost!"

Korav snorted, choking down a bout of laughter. "Just....just keep our shields up and keep the Axel in one piece. We'll be back before you know it."

"Aye Sir." He spouted and began coordination with tactical. He watched the screen ready to take evasive action and just waited for something solid.

Calvin (D’eVo) merely sighed in exhausted annoyance at the Captain’s blunt dismissal. He turned off the comm. link, folded the device up in his lap, and began ambling out of his seat like a weary business traveler. He was exhausted – both mentally and physically; his almost-endless supply of healthy Klingon rage was dwindling down to nothing … he found that if he focused on one thing at a time, he was able to avoid either: a dizzying, nauseating panic attack; an uncontrollable urge to storm the AXEL’s bridge and fly her directly at the hulking monster overhead; or a long, undisturbed nap …


D’eVo burst onto the bridge, still looking a bit worse for wear, and completely oblivious to the current discussion. He stopped in his tracks, pausing to listen in on the meeting (before volunteering any more ‘helpful’ information) …

“I’m going to modulate our own shields, and breach their defenses where they’re weakest,” Reggie told the Captain. “After placing both diversionary and mission-oriented teams in their Engineering section, I plan on flying as close to her hull as possible, and taking out a few weapons systems at random. Hopefully, I’ll be beaming back my people, and staying ahead of the debris as the Blade goes down. If not..,” Reggie paused, “if not, then suicide is a viable venture when you’re protecting your people and way of life.”


"The key word being YOUR people," muttered Selvine rebelliously. Louder, she asked Reggie, "You situated to take Korav with you?"

“Absolutely,” Reggie replied, “and on a personal note, I’d like to say that while Klingon women are beautiful when they’re angry, you just look angry--really, very angry.”

Korav didn't hear the rest of the argument. He was already off the bridge and headed to the armory to grab Alton and some weapons.


D’eVo (Calvin) immediately straightened up, grabbed his goodie box, and began marching, briskly, down the corridor after Korav. He transformed from a sweaty, roughed-up, panic-ridden goon to a professional, all-business soldier and spy within strides. D’eVo knew he needed to bend the Captain’s ear for a few seconds, away from the rest of the crew “Whether he wants to hear it or not” he fretted, concerned for his beloved adoptive homeworld, his family, his friends, as well as more … practical concerns: “Number 1, covering my own ASS!” he thought, straining to catch up to the nimbler, leaner man still darting ahead of him.




“Hey,” Reggie smiled, as he motioned for the Valkyre’s bridge crew to go back to their duties, “you want a piece of me, you’re going to have to meet me AFTER this is over. That is IF you can fly that thing. Maybe you should let a man take the helm, sweetie.”




The Valkyre’s XO wanted to laugh. The Ornaran woman wasn’t bad looking, (not at all), and so easily riled. This could be fun, if they lived through the next 20 minutes. “Prove it,” he challenged her, then had the communications officer cut the connection.


“Why have you got to be that way?” Max asked his older brother, as he blew up a battery of disruptor canons mounted on the Honor Blade’s starboard wing, and the tactical officer took evasive action.


“What do you mean?” Reggie asked, “And, pay attention to what you’re doing. You missed an opportunity to take out that photon torpedo tube.”


“Do you want me to go back?” the tactical officer wanted to know, as he deftly flew the bird of prey--practically skimming the surface of the much larger ship.


“No!” everyone one the bridge said in unison.


“What I mean is, why is it, that whenever you meet an attractive, intelligent woman,” Max sucked in air and held it, as he took aim at another disruptor array, “it’s almost as if you think about what would piss her off the most, and then do it.”


“I do not,” Reggie insisted, as he grabbed the rail that separated the crew consoles from the captain’s area of the bridge. The ship swung to port, then swooped up and away to keep from being detected, before diving in to attack another cluster of external weaponry.

“Actually, you do, Sir,” the communications officer cut in.


“Who asked you?” Reggie snapped back. “Besides, maybe I’m looking for a woman of a particular temperament. Someone who’s my intellectual equal, but sweet and forgiving.”

Max and the tactical officer exchanged glances, and said, “Bullshit,” at the same time.

“Maybe he has commitment issues,” the communications officer offered, but only half serious.


“That does it,” Reggie shouted, his face turning a dark shade of red. “No more daytime talk shows in the break room--ever!”


“Or, maybe he’s just an asshole,” Max suggested.


“You know, this is the least Klingon ship I’ve ever been on,” the tactical officer said. “If we live through this, I’d like to stay on.”


Location: IKS Valkyre, transporter room

Kira checked that all her weapons were functional and within easy reach. She double-checked that the transponder hastily stuck to the back of her neck would hold. Kor’Nan lifted her hair to one side and double checked this. They would fight their way to the target, place explosives, if possible, or fire on it with disruptors, if necessary. The Honor Blade had to be stopped. They had less than five seconds to beam out once the dampers were blown.


Kor’Nan’s team was a diversionary force. They would head toward the heavily guarded warp core, using traditional Klingon weapons, plus grenades and smoke. Kira’s team would beam as close to the inertial dampers as possible. With any luck at all, the majority of warriors stationed in Engineering would be fighting, or watching, Kor’Nan’s team.

=/\=Kira, Kor’Nan=/\= Reggie’s voice came over the intercom, =/\=Everything ready?=/\=


“Aye, aye,” Kira replied.


“Qapla,” Kor’Nan lips curled into a half smile, half snarl. The warrior had been idle too long, and longed to fight. Mounting the steps to the transporter pads, he said, “A-team, follow me.” After his team assembled, but before they teleported, Kor’Nan said, “I love it, when a plan comes together.”


Kira’s communicator beeped. She opened it, and held it close to her ear. Max’s voice came through loud enough for everyone in the room to hear, “Be careful out there.”

Kira blushed, as the men on her team tried not to laugh. “I always am,” she replied. “Try to keep the ship in one piece,” she said. “You know how upset Diana will be, if you scratch it.”


“I can’t guarantee that there won’t be scratches,” Max said, “but this ship will be there for you, when you need it. Qapla.”


“Qapla,” Kira said quietly, as she replaced the communicator on her uniform. Looking up at the warriors already assembled on the transporter pads, smirking and trying not to laugh, she walked up the steps and to the youngest man there. “Something funny?” she asked.


“No, ma’am!” he replied.


“I didn’t think so,” Kira said as she stepped onto the pad. Turning to the officer at the teleporter console, she gave the command, “Energize.”


Location: Axel transporter room

The lights in the dank transporter room flickered as the Axel took another hit on approach to the Honor Blade. Korav winced slightly. 'Every time I get this rust bucket fixed, we get into ANOTHER fight!' He thought to himself.

The Captain wore a simple all-black suit with a reflective vest and elbow and knee pads. He had a weapon slung on his shoulder, and several sonic grenades on his belt. Those things were designed to pulverize organs while preserving hull integrity. Just the kind of weapon for this kind of scenario.

Calvin (D’eVo) shuffled casually into the transporter room, his expression looking like someone on their morning commute, instead of a battle-ready killer ready to take care of business. The black body armor he wore reflected eerily in the dim light of the transporter room as he glanced around the tiny space …

"Ah, man of the hour." Korav remarked sarcastically.

Choking back the urge to tell Korav to fuck off, D’eVo only unslung the Cardassian disruptor rifle from his shoulder, and began a last minute field inspection of the weapon.

As he checked the charge, action, etc., on the rifle, D’eVo sidled up next to his Captain. After strapping the rifle back around his shoulder, D’eVo pulled one of the phase pistols off his hip, and began a thorough inspection of the sidearm (similar to his once-over on the disruptor rifle). In the middle of his inspection, D’eVo lifted the blast shield on his helmet, and announced: “I’ve modulated the targeting sensors to recognize organic material only – just so I don’t accidentally blow out a system we might want to salvage later …” After breaking the awkward silence with his clumsy attempt at humor, D’eVo drew a short breath, and said: “About the situation on-world, Korav …” After a brief pause (considering the strategic deployment of a Terran-style apology, and then promptly deciding against it) I might be able to pull some strings, and get you and the crew extradited to Fed space – don’t ask me how – just in case this doesn’t work. Of course, chances are we’re all going to die during the boarding mission, so it probably won’t matter anyway!”

"Don't bother. We'll get things sorted out AFTER the fight." Korav turned to see Alton enter the room. The older man wore a refractive vest and carried a rucksack on his back, obviously loaded with explosives.

"Sorry I'm late, skipper." The old man said, pulling out an illegal phaser carbine and slapping in a magazine.

"Don't worry...." Korav said, gesturing for the old man to turn around. Alton complied, and Korav took out several explosives, checking to make sure they were the type they needed. "And you've got the claymore trap mines in there too, right?" He asked Alton.

"Yeah, damn near cleared out the armory to find 'em." Alton said, tightening the shoulder straps on the rucksack.

“Nice rig” D’eVo said, nodding at Alton’s rifle (“I might have to rummage through the armory stock before this is all over.” he thought, well aware of how his earlier street-fighting excursion left him with an almost-empty goodie box).

"We're gonna board the Honor Blade. Reggie's teams will be covering us while we set the charges near the inertial dampeners. Then we're hijacking some escape pods to get the hell outta there." Korav said, pulling out a shotgun-like weapon and chambering a shell.

D’eVo (Calvin) couldn’t help but react – although he had a ‘pretty good’ idea of what they were planning, but hearing out loud … well, it sounded like the worst plan ever conceived!

He flipped the blast shield on his helmet up, exclaiming: “YOU DO REALIZE, of course, that THAT thing is staffed with some of the best professional soldiers money can buy – and General Dk’tahg wasn’t exactly a poor man; you realize that, right?!”

"You got us into this mess, it's only fitting you come along as we shoot our way out of it." Korav smiled. "Besides, this is your chance at glory. We disable the big bad Honor Blade, you get to be big hero with your people, we get paid, everyone wins."

Calvin (D’eVo) slapped down the visor – signaling his agreement and covering the sudden, broad smile plastered across his mug – and nodded solemnly. “Charming …” he said, dryly “err…Q’pla!” he finished, hastily punching a fist to his chest and then shooting it out in front of him (in a mock imitation of a Klingon salute).

--------- meanwhile on the Valkyre---------

The Valkyre could teleport, maintain shields and even fire under cloak. The only signs of her existence were destruction and faint neutron radiation. Reggie flew back and forth under the Honor Blade, so the bigger ship would have difficulty getting a lock on their neutrino signature. He allowed Helm to pick out targets and strike at will.


The Communications officer turned toward the XO, and said, “Both boarding parties are in place, Sir.”


Reggie nodded, and said, “Open a channel to Axel.”


Within moments, Selvine’s face filled the view screen. “Where’s Korav?” Reggie wanted to know.


Motioning for Selvani to keep running his maneuvers, Selvine sputtered indignantly at the man. "He said he was going with you. Selvine to transporter room, has Korav departed yet?"

"Negative," came the reply.

Selvine could quickly feel a headache coming on. "Korav, I can't believe you didn't alert Reggie of your plans," she sighed into her communicator.

=/\= oops =/\= came the Captain's reply.

=/\= No problem, darlin’ =/\= Reggie was now deliberately irritating. =/\= Korav, if the escape pods are too far away, grab a hold of one of our guys. We’ll be teleporting the diversionary team out any time now, and the mission team immediately after our ship sensors indicate that the target is about to blow. =/\=

Rubbing her temple, Selvine wanted nothing more than to be on the other side of the galaxy from this mess, sound asleep, perhaps on a beach somewhere. How had things become so chaotic here? "Korav, send your mark when you're ready," she requested. "Reggie, unless you needed something else, just hang in there."

=/\= Are you always this dem…, I mean commanding? =/\=


“Hey Sel”, Calvin chimed in “I need you to relay my earlier message to any ship within range. We’re gonna need all the help we can get!”


"Done," she replied, doing so.


------back in the transporter room-----

"Everyone lock and load, weapons red." Korav ordered, stepping onto the transporter pad.

"Time to GIT SOME!!" Alton whooped as he followed the Captain.

Cal said nothing, and instead only marched onto the transporter platform - fully armed and armored; his rifle out and ready.

"Selvine, this is Korav. Ready to roll." Korav said into his communicator.

"Roger, Ghost Eyes," the Ornaran woman confirmed. 

"Now, remember the plan. We're using the escape pods to get off of that ship." Korav spoke in a calm, even voice. He was in his zone, and the adrenaline pumping though his veins right now soothed him, gave him the feeling of being in total control.

"And I'll beam you out of those once you're in range," she acknowledged. "Be safe, guys."

As the transporter effect started tingling through him, Calvin muttered; “I have a bad feeling about this …”

Korav's grip on his shotgun tightened as he felt the familiar grip of the transporter beam take him. 'Party time' He thought to himself.

The last thing Calvin felt - before he dissolved into a stream of energy – was his trigger finger tightening against the firing button, while switching the safety off with his free hand (already preparing for a wave of armored, amped-up shock troopers) …


Location: Honor Blade, Engineering

Kira and her team started fighting as soon as they materialized. Most of the warriors guarding the inertia dampers were watching the action by the warp core. Some of them were already wounded after fighting the Molar’s highly trained crew. All of them stood between Kira and her goal. The element of surprise helped to drop the first couple of guards, but after that, she had to fight for every inch of space between her and the most vulnerable part of the monstrous ship.


Korav's team teleported into a nice secluded supply room, allowing for them to get their bearings first.

The Captain made a shushing gesture, indicating that the team should go to hand signals. He pulled out a tricorder and scanned the immediate area for life signs.

Calvin (D’eVo) pointed his rifle at the armored ODN conduit plates adorning the wall at the rear of the room, attempting a brash, non-verbal suggestion. He knew (from the technical schematics he hacked from the General’s office) that the Engineering section was dangerously overpowered; either from the massive energy surges from it’s quantum drive, or the staggering resources needed to operate it’s elaborate weapons systems – or both.

Korav showe Calvin and Alton the screen. It showed a large patrol moving down the corridor to the outside, passing by the door to the supply closet. Korav gestured for Calvin to follow his lead, and then for Alton to watch their backs.

Alton nodded silently, taking up his position on one side of the door.

Calvin looked at Korav blankly; his black-visored blast helmet completely obscuring any expression. The only visible affirmation of the plan came from a slight nod, and a lowering of his disruptor rifle. After this inscrutable gesture, he dodged forward, opened the doors, and burst into the corridor, letting his rifle lead the way … A quick turn to his left revealing a safely empty corridor – and that’s just when he heard the stomping boots behind him! Cal turned rapidly on one metallic heel, drawing his weapon out, and shrieking “Time to kill!!!”

Korav took up his position. Readying his weapon, he made the 'go go go' gesture and both he and Alton burst through the doorway. Korav took aim at the group, making sure to have his shotgun at center of mass. He fired several thunderous blasts from his weapon, shredding the bunch with a hail of solid duranium pellets.

After watching a number of the soldiers drop in a hail of high-powered buckshot, Cal took care of clean-up duty in the corridor. He made sure to fire the powerful energy weapon in short, controlled bursts – and into the center of the charging mass of soldiers. Calvin took his time, and took advantage of the confusion, slowly marching forward as his rifle mowed down any resistance. The weapon’s relatively heavier weight and slower-rate of fire allowed him to pick off the soldiers without accidentally hitting a power line, or anything else that might slow down the mission. “This ship is a giant, flying bomb” he reminded himself, lining up a shot at a scrambling, floored warrior also taking aim (at Calvin); “take your time …” He sheared the Klingon’s gun hand off at the wrist, following it up with a kill shot to the skull.

Once the corridor was clear, Korav made a rallying gesture. "Come on! Down this way! We've got to meet up with Kira and her teams!"

D’eVo (Calvin) stumbled slightly over the pile of bodies scattered on the floor. He was attempting to shoulder the rifle while trotting forward in the bulky body armor - and detaching a pistol from a hip holster– all at once.

They found the To'Var boarding party by following the trail of corpses. Korav just opened a door leading to engineering when a Klingon warrior flew by the doorway, propelled by a particularly explosive phaser blast. He turned to see Kira and her team finish off a security detail.


“Nice you could make it,” Kira smiled at the Axel’s Captain, even as she backhanded a young Klingon warrior, breaking his nose in the process.


"Can't believe you freakin people allowed this crisis to happen!" Korav shouted as he sent a storm of shotgun pellets at a nearby enemy position.

“Crisis? What crisis?” Kira teased. “This is Quo’nos, and this is what we do for fun.”


"Whatever!!" Korav ducked behind a console to reload. "Where's this inertial dampener system??!!"

“Over there,” Kira nodded to twin grey cylinders that resembled trash receptacles. One had a square blue light next to a key pad, and the other a red light next to it’s key pad. They were not nearly as well protected as the warp core, but once disabled, the ship could no longer compensate for the speed at which the ship traveled. Even at one quarter impulse power, if there were no counter-balance, the beings on board would be turned to jelly against whatever chair they were sitting in, and the ship explode shortly thereafter.

"Hear that old man? Plant the charges!! Take it out!!" Korav ordered.

"Got it, skipper!!" Came Alton's reply from halfway across the room.

"CALVIN!!!!" Korav roared.

D’eVo ran forward, one pistol out in front, while his free hand skimmed the contours of the thick metallic walls (feeling for the telltale square of a power junction box).

"COVER HIS ASS!" The Axel's Captain rolled out of his cover and laid down some more suppressive fire from his shotgun. The loud report as well as the violent spray of metal kept the enemies' heads down long enough for Calvin to take up position.

D’eVo (Calvin) was the perfect picture of calm, in the center of the battle. Dropping the pistol back to its hip holster, he released the junction-box’s hydraulic latch with his free hand. As the control panel’s monitor flashed to life, D’eVo reached back and slid out the data chip taped under the hardsuit’s built-in backpack. He slid the memory card into the access panel (while a hail of flying shrapnel pinged harmlessly against his body armor), scanning the menu for what he needed. After the built-in hack on his card broke into the system, D’eVo selected the emergency power routing override. He slid the virtual sliders to each system on the screen to FULL power, causing the meters to slip into the red. After a brief warning, the system started flashing a loud warning, the monitor screaming a violent flash of black, red and orange alerts.

Kira believed that you should get off the first shot quickly, and while the enemy was rattled, take careful aim to make the second shot count. As Calvin, [strange name for a Klingon], came in from one side, she dove in and slid to the other side--the huge grey tube with the red light. She placed the explosives she was carrying and turned to ‘Calvin’ to see, if he was good to go.


Calvin (D’eVo) smiled behind his helmet – at hearing the muted alarm klaxons blaring out behind one junction box after another. He paused before giving Kira the ‘thumbs up’ sign – pausing to blast a charging, lone warrior in the face – and turned to check on Alton’s progress …


"TEN MINUTES, SKIPPER!!" Alton shouted over the din of the phaser fire.


“Time delay?” Kira couldn’t believe this. Shaking her head, she said, “Get to the escape pods. I’ll stay here and make sure they don’t get disarmed.”


Korav looked up from his prone position on the ground. "WHAT?? You're kidding me! FUCK NO!!" He struggled to get up.

“No time to argue. Get going,” Kira yelled, as she shot at yet another guard. More warriors were coming through the door. The only thing in her favor was the fact that they had to enter through a narrow opening. The bad part was that three of them could run in at a time.

Teeth gritted in frustration, Korav grabbed Kira by the collar of her body armor and pulled her back into cover (albeit with a little more force than was necessary). He slung his shotgun and pulled the pin on one of his sonic grenades. "GRENADE OUT!!!" He roared as he chucked the sonic explosive right into the path of the oncoming attackers and ducked back behind cover, forcing Kira's head down as well.

Calvin looked up from his work (checking the overloading power levels on the nearest junction panel), and turned to his left; just in time to see the latest security detail bearing down from the opposite direction. Instinctively, his rifle was out and in front of him. That’s when he heard the clanking of a sonic grenade rattling on the floor at his feet. Cal began to step backwards, rapidly pedaling his legs back, until he started falling. He rolled with the fall, the clunky body armor thudding against the floor. He rolled into a fetal position, just before …

“Enough foreplay, Captain,” Kira couldn’t believe. “It’s time for you to go.”

The explosion felt like a sledgehammer slamming into the deck as the shockwave liquefied the enemy security details' organs. Screens cracked and control panels flickered in response to the force of the explosion. The unfortunate victims in the killing radius all dropped with wet, gurgling noises issuing from their pulverized throats.

Korav held onto the console for support as he poked his head out to observe the damage. The shooting had ceased temporarily, with the remaining enemies falling back to put their brains back together. Luckily for the Axel and Valkyrie crew, they were far enough back to avoid the disorienting effects of the blast.

Cal heard the blast; deafening at first, then muted to a dull roar by the hardsuit’s built-in sonic filters. He got up slowly, finding it hard to get upright from his protective position.

Kira looked back at the timer, before getting up from the floor. Turning to Korav, she said, “Six minutes to detonation, Captain, and you’re going to need at least four of those to get clear of here. I’ll make sure no one disables them. Now, go!”

"NO ONE'S STAYING BEHIND!!" The Captain barked. "You see those damned things my man's setting up???" Korav said, pointing to the claymore mines Alton was setting up around the inertial dampeners. "THOSE are MINES!! They'll buy us enough time to get to the escape pods and get OFF this dump!! They'll have their deflector fields up by now, and the transporter signals in the area have probably been jammed!! So unless you wanna beam back to the Valkyrie in a damned SOUP BOWL, you'll follow me to the escape pods! Got it?"

“Your escape route is riskier than mine,” Kira tried to explain. “The Valkyre is under this ship’s shields. I can still teleport out.” Kira paused, “Did you say, ‘soup bowl’?”

"Hey, this is your fight. I'm just making sure you guys stay alive so that I can kill you myself later." Korav said with a wry smile. 

[There was no point arguing], Kira thought. The important thing now, was to wreck the ship, and get away. “Later then, Captain,” the Valkyre’s second officer agreed, licking her upper lip, and flashing the other ship’s CO a mischievous grin--it made her look intimidating, wicked and sexy in a Klingon sort of way.

Alton gave the all-clear, and the team picked up and began moving towards the escape pod access way. "Been doing this kind of thing for 'most thirty years now." Korav told Kira. "I'm not interested in heroics. I'm just interested in getting everyone out alive, and it pisses me off when damned fools wanna throw their lives away for stupid shit like that."

“Why won’t you accept ‘yes’ for an answer?” Kira asked, as she followed Korav and Alton, while Calvin brought up the rear. “Stop making speeches, and get us out of here.”

Location: Honor Blade

The trip to the escape pod bay took longer than expected, and could be summed up as a running firefight the entire way. The chaos that the boarding party had caused in engineering had successfully prevented any concerted attempt to stop them, but Korav knew that wouldn't last for long. 

"Left!!" He shouted at the next intersection. The team madly dashed in that direction, Korav providing rear security.

Calvin plodded on, running on pure adrenaline. The combined mass of the hardsuit (even with it’s own built-in inertial dampeners and bionics), along with the exhaustion from a day spent running and fighting, was starting to take it’s toll. “G’damn! I’m out of shape!!!” he thought, huffing and puffing, unaware of the frazzled nerves and screaming muscles that awaited him in the morning (or unwilling to think about it) …


Kira pressed the button that opened the escape pod door, and activated the launch sequence. Once in space, either the Valkyre, or Axel, would locate her bio signs and teleport her to safety.

Korav stopped at the entrance to his own escape pod to prime his entire belt of grenades. He adjusted the harmonic frequency with trembling fingers as disruptor bolts flew all around him. The goal was to collapse the entire section with the explosives.

A stray bolt caught his reflective vest at the shoulder, knocking him off his feet. Korav cried out in pain as the energy of the blast rippled through his arm.

"FAAACK!!!!" He shouted as he attempted to get himself off the ground with only one good arm.

Almost instinctively, Cal leapt forward to aid his Captain (years of training and experience overriding extreme physical and emotional fatigue).

Korav waved off Calvin's attempts to help him. "THROW THIS!!" Korav roared, pressing the final priming button on the grenade belt and tossing it to Calvin.

Calvin (D’eVo) wound up and swung the grenade belt as far and as fast as he could – and was rewarded by a stinging, throbbing ache in his shoulder as soon as the grenades clunked against the floor.


Kira heard Korav yell in pain, and leaned out the door of her pod. The Captain was hunched over, cradling one arm against his chest. “Do you need help?” she asked.

"NO TIME!!" Korav shouted. "GET ONBOARD!! NOW!! NOW!!!" He limped onboard the escape pod, clearing the threshold just as the doors slammed at his feet.

The pod launched, slamming Korav against the rear exit hatch. He cursed as his injured side hit a protruding lock mechanism, sending a wave of pain down his arm. Trying his best to ignore it, Korav pulled out his communicator and called Kira.

=/\= Hey, minimum safe distance is 100 meters. Repeat, 100 meters. That should clear us from any of their disruption fields. We should be clear to beam out at that point. =/\=

Kira touched here comm badge, =/\= You got that, Reg? =/\=


=/\= Affirmative =/\= came the cracked and static filled response.

There was an explosion behind the pod, undoubtedly the grenade belt collapsing the escape pod bay. It was quickly followed by a much louder explosion, the shockwaves from that explosion rocked the escape pods, making Korav's eyes blur for a moment.

D’eVo (Calvin) closed his eyes and silenced his mind; feeling the rocking thumps of multiple explosions jar his already battle-battered body. He was determined to continue his meditation, for he knew – just as well, if not MORE so – what was at risk … and the impossibly slim chance any one of them had of making it out of this alive.

"God DAYM Alton, what did you pack in there???" Korav chuckled, looking to the former marine.

"Anti-Anti-matter charges, and- and a quantum warhead." Alton said between gasped breaths. "Man....I'm getting too old for this....or too fat....either way this sucks....."

Even as the explosions blasting through the Honor Blade’s outer hull rocked the escape pod violently, D’eVo felt himself start to drift off …


D’eVo’s eyelids began fluttering, and soon after his neck dropped forward, and he was … out. His armored body slumped forward against the safety belts, and a slight snore started wheezing out through the helmet’s audio system.


Suddenly, a harsh, rocking blast pumelled the tiny vessel, causing his head to snap back, and D’eVo (Calvin) awoke violently; gasping “Wha?” into his helmet – as the hardsuit’s built-in security system also snapped to life.

The escape pod shook once more as a torpedo flew by. At that point, Korav realized that they were still too far from the minimum safe distance, and were very vulnerable targets.

"Shit....Calvin, do you know how to squeeze some more juice outta this thing?" Korav got up from his seat on the ground and made his way to the front of the pod. He still clutched at his right arm, still unable to get feeling into his fingers.

Suddenly feeling very claustrophobic, Calvin (D’eVo) unhooked his helmet, - detaching it from the rest of the hardsuit - and tossed it to the floor of the escape pod.


“Possibly …” he responded (his first spoken words since the mission began) “The power supply on these should have a fairly simple routing system …” Without a further word, he began unstrapping the safety belts, and stood up. Calvin then detached the torso carapace of his hardsuit, which opened with a hiss, before clunking to the floor next to the helmet. He bent down – half clad in a rumpled T-shirt, with his legs still encased in the thick armor – and collapsed the helmet and upper body section as best as possible. Next, the metallic leggings unhooked and slid off. After collapsing and assembling the entire hardsuit into a small, boxy square of metal, he beamed the entire assemblage into the pattern recorder of his commcorder’s cargo storage memory.


Now dressed in only a T-shirt, loose-fitting sweatpants and sneakers, D’eVo picked up his field ‘sabotage’ kit (wishing silently for the help of someone with better engineering knowledge), and started working. “Of course” he announced with his back turned to the group. As he began removing the faceplate of the escape pod’s emergency controls, he continued “These things aren’t designed for long-range travel: I should be able to give us a bit more speed, but we could just as easily blast straight through the planet’s atmosphere. And find out we don’t have any thrust to break our fall – it’s a long way down, folks. Also, we don’t want to wind up burning through our fuel and float off, either. These things have no manual nav systems to speak of, either.” Finished with his morale boosting pep-talk, Calvin (D’eVo) was now deep into his task; programming the simple menu with one hand, while a mini-spanner ran a sensor sweep over some exposed circuitry with his other. “Damn, I wish Daius was here” he thought, desperate for her engineering knowledge, if not her company.

From her position beneath the Honor Blade, Roquel watched the escape pods exiting the huge ship. Some were decoys (whoever thought of that was good!), but others carried valuable cargo in the form of the Axel boarding party members. Their trajectories were all different, she had to keep them close. She had been sent the decryption code for the groups communications by Selvine, so she quickly filled the group in. "Hang on captain. I've got your juice. I'm activating a tractor beam. I am increasing to 3/4 impulse and will target each pod for a few seconds with the beam. That will pull you all free of the disruption field. And, at the same time it will keep you close enough to me to use sensor jammers to keep the Honor Blade from getting a target lock." Then she addressed the Axel.


"Selvine..... In 30 seconds start beaming. Korav's pod will be clear first."


As she hit the impulse drive, the tractor beam tagged one...then another... then a third escape pod. Once the cycle was complete, it went back to the first pod and so on. The group of pods trailed closely behind the Bee. Disruptor fire and torpedos leapt from the Honor Blade. It was only a matter of time before they adapted for her jammers. "Once the pods are evacuated, I'm going to warp to keep them from nailing me. That'll give you time to get things finished. See you in a few." Then she added a common Risian parting phrase. "LIVE FOR THE MOMENT! -- Roquel out."


"Good luck!" Selvine wished them fervently from the bridge, hating watching the action helplessly but knowing that at this point she could only get in the way. She anxiously awaited their return in silence.


Location: Space near Axel

Towing the escape pods was easy for the Bee. Each had lo more mass than her shuttle and Roquel was only tractoring one at a time. It seemed like this would be a cake-walk. Then she felt the first disruptor blast.


A Klingon combat shuttle had dropped out of one of the bays on the Honor Blade and was racing in hard. Apparently the pilot had rightly decided that crippling her ship would be the key to recovering the P'Tach's who set off explosive in their glorious ship.


"Computer return fire on the shuttle behind us." Roquel ordered.


"Weapons are still off line. No offensive capabilities for returning fire exist at this time."

"Damn!" Roquel had forgotten that the Klingon's had crippled her weapons systems.

'Rookie move.' She chastised herself as she started taking evasive action. Now she needed a way to get rid of the tail she'd picked up. Her concentration was broke by another blast on her aft quarter that rocked her shuttle. "That tears it! Now I'm pissed!"

The tractor beam pulled one of the pods closer. Instantly a burst of disruptor fire tore the thing apart. "Ok, Roquel thought that didn't work." 


One of the other pods behind her was empty. The other two were not. Again her tractor beam grabbed a pod and launched it away from the pursuing ship. The person inside would be spared for a few more seconds. 

Another pod had three occupants. This one was her prize possession and nobody was taking it from her. She let it drift.


Instead she grabbed the empty one with the beam. This time she reversed the beam and hurled the pod at the shuttle behind her. The pilot hadn't apparently anticipated that tactic. He was coming straight on as fast as he could and flew straight into the pod being forced into him. Both shuttle and pod erupted in brilliant flash and were gone. 

Roquel targeted the occupied pod again and made a decision. Hopefully, Selvine wouldn't mind the minor alteration of the plan. She tapped out a command to put the Bee on auto-pilot and operated the transporter controls. The air started to coalesce in the back of the cabin into the form of three people. She knew Calvin, but she recognized another of them instantly. The eyes were....creepy. "Captain Korav, I presume." She said amusedly. "It's time you got back to your ship."

Korav was disoriented to say the least, as well as instantly suspicious at the new face. "Who the hell are you?" He asked. His next action was yet to be determined. They obviously weren't in any danger. The woman had a Risan accent, one that he'd recognized from the bridge as the pilot of the shuttle that brought Calvin and Daius back from the planet.

She returned her attention to the controls and hit the warp drive briefly. The micro jump put the Bee on the far side of the Axel. Now, Korav's ship was between them and the Honor Blade. She came to a dead stop and spun the shuttle so that she could return to the shuttlebay. It didn't take long before all of them were safely inside once again.

"Pilot," Korav called again, getting her attention. "I ah... appreciate the lift, but really, who are you?"

"I'm the little girl who saved your bacon today." Roquel retorted. "Roquel Atrell, formerly of Risa.

"I'm Korav." He said, shaking her hand. "We owe you one. Thanks." The admission was reluctant, and the thanks were about as gruff as they came, and just as brief.

"That's your thank you? Not good enough." She said smilling mischievously. "I'll find a proper way for you to thank me later."

"What about the pods containing the Valkyrie teams?" He said, taking a look at her sensor panels. "I'm not gonna leave them behind. Those assholes owe me money."

"I think they've headed off toward the...Valkyrie?...did you say? Well, there was one I think I snagged and pulled along with you. I let it go a few seconds ago and it's single occupant was beamed out right after. You may have to collect that debt, later. Or, did you want me to go grab them again?" She asked half-worriedly.


Korav shook his head, satisfied that the Valkyrie crew had made it out safe. "I'll get to that later. Right now, we need to get the hell outta....." The shuttle was rocked as a cluster of quantum torpedoes roared by and struck the Honor Blade's shields.


<< Roquel >>


"WHERE the HELL?!!" Korav growled as the shuttle pulled into the Axel's docking bay.


<< Roquel- it's the Khitomer fleet >>


"Ok, you guys buckle down and try not to get hurt. I'm needed on the bridge." Korav hopped out the back of the shuttle and bolted for the nearest turbo lift, leaving Alton, Roquel, and Calvin behind.


Location: IKS Khitomer, after the boarding action

"ETA five minutes, General." The helmsman reported.

"Sensors show that the Honor Blade is in orbit above the homeworld." The tactical officer snarled. "Still no sign of Captain K'Vara's forces. There is a debris field on the edge of the system matching the composition of the homeworld fleet."

General Mekh'Tar closed his eyes, feeling the old rage well up inside him. It was the same rage that had welled up through his heart during his days as a young private serving in the ground forces. The same rage that came to his heart whenever an honorless dog dared to challenge the might of his beloved Empire. The General's eyes opened, seeing for the first time the battle that was to be. The Honor Blade was indeed as formidable as it was intimidating. Poor K'Vara never stood a chance with the ships he'd been given. But like all foes, the Honor Blade had her weaknesses, and Mekh'Tar was going to exploit them as much as he could. There could be no other outcome but victory.

"Alert the fleet." He ordered. "All ships to condition red. Prep fighters for launch when we drop out of warp. I want strategic analyses ready as quickly as possible."

The Khitomer fleet was the pride of the Klingon Navy, commanded by one of the most feared warriors and most respected leaders in the Empire. Ten Negh'Var's and five K'Tinga battleships served as the backbone of the fleet, supported by dozens of squadrons of Vor'Cha cruisers and B'Rel destroyers. The entire fleet was commanded by leaders that Mekh'Tar had hand-picked, and each vessel was inspected on a regular basis to ensure nothing but perfect combat readiness.

The Khitomer herself, flagship of the fleet bearing her name, was a refitted Negh'Var painted completely black instead of the traditional olive-green of the Klingon Navy. She was slightly larger than the average Negh'Var, but packed twice as much firepower, as well as several prototype weapon designs.

"Dropping out of warp now, General." The helmsman said, fingers instantly taking control of the thrusters and impulse drives.

"Broadcast a message." Mekh'Tar said, turning to the comm officer. "All frequencies, no encryption."

"Yes, General." The officer replied, hitting a few buttons before giving Mekh'Tar a nod.

=/\= Attention Honor Blade, and all rebel forces in the capitol. =/\= Mekh'Tar said, standing up. His height was imposing, and even in his advanced age, he looked every inch the fierce warrior he was. =/\= This is General Mekh'Tar, commander of the Khitomer Fleet, and senior military commander of the Klingon Defense Forces. Under the authority given to me by the High Council, I am hereby sentencing every last one of you honorless targs to death. There will be no quarter. There will be no negotiation. Prepare to meet Gre'Thor's cold embrace. =/\=

G’rok Rag’naRok bolted out of the captain’s chair, and rushed forward - apparently planning to attack the forward viewscreen – snarling with rage. He deftly hopped over the smoldering remains of one of his bridge officers, stopping short of tumbling over the command center’s outer rail, before leering up at the screen. “FOOLS!!!” he bellowed. “YOU HAVE SEEN NOTHING OF WHAT THIS VESSEL CAN DO!! I WILL SLAUGHTER YOU TO THE LAST, AND THEN I WILL TAKE YOUR WOMEN AND CHILDREN AND” 

“They’ve stopped listening, Ves’tai” hearing the startling, soft-spoken voice of Commander Lla’asha Dk’tahg over the din of the embattled bridge. The tall, nimble woman leaned in close, her voice breaking into a barely controlled, growling whisper. “I suggest you reclaim your command, NOW, before I slay you where you stand and do it myself.” 

"Ignore any communication from the Honor Blade." The General said, waving off his comm officer. "Launch all fighters, have them take evasive trajectories and begin bombing runs on the Honor Blade. Order our long-range vessels to hang back and begin bombardment. All ships will move in and fire for effect. Throw everything we have at them!" Mekh'Tar took his seat at the command chair, watching as the first volleys were fired at the monstrosity hovering over the homeworld.

G’rok turned slowly on one boot-heel, a deep, throaty growl building in his chest. He was ready to smack the ‘traitorous kuvekhestat’ halfway across his bridge – when he was stopped in his tracks by the defiant, challenging posture of the female commander … along with the forward movement of two of her bridge officers towards him.


Deciding it was better to wait – and ‘make an example of these treacherous targs later.’ Reclaiming the Empire was his first priority, not chastising the disloyal Dk’tahg faction onboard his warship. “Besides” he reasoned, strolling past the bemused Commander Lla’asha with a slight snarl “revenge is a dish best served cold.” 

"Enemy shield strength has been reduced by 12%." The tactical officer reported. "Our analysis of the ship's condition is complete, General. It appears that the Honor Blade's hull integrity is at 87%. There are numerous breaches from what appear to be warp core detonations. Their primary inertial dampeners are offline, and there appears to be massive internal deck damage in their engineering section. Looks like someone set off a high-grade explosive in that section."

"Then we shall use that to our advantage." The General said, hand over his chin. "Split the fleet. Group A will flank to her starboard side, group B will take port." He designated the targets on his own tactical display. "The Khitomer will proceed up the middle, full impulse. Prepare our mark II armor and corbomite reflectors."

"That will mean a 40% reduction in our weapons' effectiveness, General." The tactical officer replied.

"I'm aware of that." General Mekh'Tar nodded. "Do it."

G’rok sat back down in the Captain’s chair, temporarily subdued and morose as the grim news feeding into his station from all over the massive ship. The engineering section had suffered two massive explosions within the past hour, several of the disruptor relays had been burnt out, and an assortment of mercs from a – cargo ship, no less! – had managed to wipe out several of his best security teams. To make matters worse, the two Birds-of-Prey that were escorting him had broken off radio communication and gone into cloak as soon as the Honor Blade began taking damage. The hull had several breaches, and their shields were down to a mere 87%. “More than enough to finish this” he thought, his resolve growing as serious as his deadly intentions.


He knew what needed to be done. “Helm!” G’rok barked. “Prepare to take us into the upper atmosphere.” After a few seconds, he punched in the channel to Main Engineering (what was left of it) and ordered: “Have the transwarp engines online immediately. Prepare to engage on my mark.” 

The fleet surged forward like an angry sandstorm of duranium and superheated plasma. The smaller, faster fighters roared outward while the two attack groups split up, launching everything they had at the monstrosity. Several ships hung back and provided cover fire for the fighters as they moved in to point-blank range to engage their targets.


Captain Rag’naRok took the blitzkrieg in stride, not so much as batting an eyelash in response. He held on to his captain’s chair, ignoring the rumbling explosions that jolted every living soul on his ship. The fleet was attacking, unexpectedly sending hordes of smaller fighter ships to barrage the ‘Blade’s already weakened shields, while the larger ships provided cover fire. The fixed-wing fighters were already exploiting the numerous hull fractures with small arms fire, causing his already overworked and undermanned disruptor and torpedo crews to busy themselves with helping the Engineering teams seal any tears and perform any other emergency repairs.


“No matter” he thought, his dark intentions consuming him like the eternal flame of Kahless. The Imperial fleet’s clever attempt to swarm the Honor Blade into oblivion was the final insult; the Klinzhai people, far from greeting the KLF [Klingon Liberation Front – KC] forces as honored liberators, had instead decided to attack them with everything they had, on the ground and in the air. He would take the Honor Blade into the skies above the traitorous capital, vent the massive engines’ plasma into the air, and ignite the atmosphere as the ship went to warp. It would scorch the surface, searing everything, down to the last single blade of grass.


The intense heat and the blast from a full antimatter detonation would kill thousands, instantly, with millions dying from radiation poisoning and the effects of a full environmental collapse in the months and years to come. “A fitting punishment for their disloyalty” he gloated to himself. “If the Klingon people have become so weak and corrupt that they refuse my gifts … Then I will send them all burning to the fires of Gre’Thor.” Deep in his deadly reverie (and unnoticed by his busy crew) G’rok smiled briefly at his next realization; “and take what’s left of the fleet with them.” He knew that the resulting shockwave would destroy most of the ships within its radius, while the Honor Blade would remain safely tucked away in it’s ’87 percent’ metaphasic shell.


But first, there was the small matter of the incoming fighter craft and larger warships currently on an intercept course with the Honor Blade. “Tactical” G’rok roared “Ignore the smaller vessels and concentrate your fire on the Birds of Prey and larger ships for now.” After a bark of agreement from one of the bridge stations, the order was carried out. Unfortunately, it was growing increasingly difficult to lock on to the destroyers with the massive frontal assault being dished out by the smaller fighters. Several combined small arms attacks on weakened shield points was causing the metaphasic bubble around the ship to fluctuate wildly. Many of the starfighters – as well as several of the larger assault vehicles – exploited the shield’s weaknesses; throwing everything they could fire at the monstrous warship, resulting in several fracture points in the ‘Blade’s outer hull. Within mere seconds, ‘Captain’ Rag’naRok’s strategy was evidently failing. As his inferiors rushed about the bridge, trying to compensate for the weakening shields, diminishing firepower and buckling hull (not to mention the growing casualties piling up), G’rok ordered a change in plans. “Target all remaining disruptors and torpedoes on the starfighters. Destroy these annoying insects NOW!” 

Meanwhile, unnoticed by the Honor Blade’s erstwhile Captain, Commander Dk’tahg passed a subtle nod to the two tactical officers standing on the upper bridge level behind her. Each one then passed each other a brief, conspiratorial glance, and then, inscrutably, returned to their duties. Lla’asha Dk’tahg watched her temporary superior with a growing mix of unease, distrust and a festering concern about G’rok’s questionable abilities as ship’s Captain.


G’rok, meanwhile, was monitoring several tactical displays at once, watching the Imperial fleet’s combined assault continue to exploit several of the Honor Blade’s design flaws simultaneously – when several of the monitors winked out into shifting visual static. “Tactical! Status Report!!” he bellowed (although fully aware of just how bad the news would be). “Short-range sensors are offline in several forward sectors” was the response from one of the bridge tactical stations. “Weapons status!” G’rok interrupted (growing increasingly agitated and impatient as the tide of the battle kept turning against them). “Several of our forward and aft disruptor relays are still burned-out, Captain. Also, several of our torpedo crews are reporting inventory shortages and destruction of the tubes by our enemies. Shall I have the department commanders executed, sir?”


“No.” came the Captain’s growled, terse response (knowing that as much as he would like to make an example of his failed officers, he just couldn’t spare the personnel). “Full power to shields! Helm!! Execute a wide-angle turn, full-impulse, starboard, position 1.15.” Before the navigational commander could respond, Cmdr. Dk’tahg interrupted: “A full impulse pass would only increase our casualties and damage to the ship! Our inertial dampeners were disabled during the boarding raid – remember, ‘Captain?!’” “Half-impulse!” G’rok hastily interrupted (increasingly agitated by the lack of available officers to carry out the mission, much less make an example of). “Fire at will!!!” 

Location: Bridge, IKS Valkyre

Kira dropped her gear almost as soon as she got off the teleporter pad. Looking around the room, and quickly checking the infirmary, she was now reasonably certain that all teams had made it back alive. Those with injuries were refusing treatment, of course, so she yelled at them to let the doctor do his job. She thought she saw relief in the eyes of a few of the younger warriors.


The door to the bridge swooshed aside to allow the 2O access. Glancing at the view screen, on the way to her console, Kira saw the Honor Blade--banged up a bit, but still intact. “Damn!” she said. Turning to the warrior that had been manning her station, she said, “Unless you’re planning on challenging me, I suggest you stand down.”


The male Klingon was half a foot taller than her, easily 25 pounds heavier, his reach was several inches longer than hers, and he had fists the size of New Jersey; but he stepped aside.


“What did I miss?” she asked, still a little breathless.


“We’ve used up our photon torpedoes, you tried to blow it up, and Reggie has a thing for the Axel’s XO,” Max told her.


“Have you guys forgotten that thing is still out there, and we’re facing almost certain death?” Reggie wanted to know.


Kira looked from Reggie--who seemed a lot more agitated than even certain death could account for--back to her husband, “He blew it, didn’t he.”


The tactical officer made the sound of a ship falling and crashing.


“Who’s the new guy?” she asked, nodding in the direction of tactical.


Before anyone could answer her, the communications officer said, “Sir, it’s the Khitomer. The fleet has arrived.”


“Let’s hear it,” Reggie ordered.


=/\= Attention Honor Blade, and all rebel forces in the capitol. =/\= Mekh'Tar said, standing up. His height was imposing, and even in his advanced age, he looked every inch the fierce warrior he was. =/\= This is General Mekh'Tar, commander of the Khitomer Fleet, and senior military commander of the Klingon Defense Forces. Under the authority given to me by the High Council, I am hereby sentencing every last one of you honorless targs to death. There will be no quarter. There will be no negotiation. Prepare to meet Gre'Thor's cold embrace. =/\=

“Okay, that doesn’t apply to us,” Reggie said, “but the old man’s going to notice us sooner, or later.” Turning to communications, he said, “Try to get through. If no clemency is to be given, they may be jamming all incoming messages; if not, request orders.”


“Yes, Sir!” the warrior said. He tried to contact the Klingon flagship, but was unable to do so. Turning to the Valkyre’s XO, he reported. “It’s as you said, Sir. No incoming messages are getting through at this time.”


“Then let’s back off, so they don’t mistake us for the enemy,” Reggie directed. “Has anyone heard from the Axel?” he asked.


The communications officer shook his head in the negative. “He’s really going to do it, isn’t he, Sir. All those warriors, that huge ship, …”


Reggie turned to look at the warrior. “I never wasted a single second of my life forming an opinion of General Mekh’Tar. I have, however, spent hundreds of hours in study, training and simulations so that the general might have a favorable opinion of me.”


Turning to address the rest of the bridge officers, Reggie said, “Alright, it won’t be long now. When Mekh’Tar does notice us, let’s be ready. Everybody look Klingon!”


Location: Bridge, IKS Khitomer

The General's gambit had succeeded. The Honor Blade, after several volleys, had given up on attacking the Khitomer, and was now concentrating on the flanking ships.

In order to utilize her deadly forward disruptor arrays, the Honor Blade had to turn and face one of the attack groups. She couldn't do so very quickly due to her disabled inertial dampeners, so she was completely vulnerable on her sides. Her commander obviously placed great faith in her shields.

The General was about to show him his error.

"General! They've disengaged and are turning towards group A!" The tactical officer shouted. He had to shout because sparks were flying out of several consoles on the bridge. The Khitomer was tough, but the Honor Blade had thrown the equivalent of an attack fleet's firepower at her.

"Drop shields and deflector screens!" Mekh'Tar ordered. "Deploy our solaris array! Target their engineering section from their starboard side!"

Outside, the Khitomer flashed brilliantly as her shields suddenly dropped. A deep, blood-red glow appeared at her nose.

Captain Rag’naRok’s gambit wasn’t paying the dividends he expected. The Honor Blade’s elaborate weaponry was able to dispatch several of the space-fighters attacking her starboard side, but there were simply … too many (“This is like killing a swarm of angry hornets with a pellet gun!” he thought, growing increasingly frustrated). “Tactical – concentrate all remaining weapons on the vessels clustered near the starboard Engineering section. Fire at will!” 

“Commander!” shouted one of the tactical officers, breaking his concentration. “The Khitomer is charging some sort of forward energy weapon …” Before the crewman could continue, G’rok yelled: “Divert power to the forward shield section, brace for impact. Can we disable that weapon?!” 

"Weapon charged, General." The tactical officer reported.

"Fire." Mekh'Tar ordered.

A brilliant beam of concentrated plasma and antimatter mixture lanced out from the Khitomer's nose. The beam hit the Honor Blade's engineering section, slicing right through her shields. The tactical officer had chosen his target well. Cascading failures rippled through the once-invincible behemoth, and all over the ship, consoles overloaded and systems exploded, killing hundreds instantly.

G’rok Rag’na Rok stumbled to his feet, one of the few bodies strewn across the sprawling bridge able to do so. He peered through the haze of smoke and flashing red glow of several emergency lights and surveyed the damage … 


The air was – even with the immaculate attention of a modern starship’s controlled environment – peppered with the smell of burnt plastic and flesh, not to mention spent ozone, and the tangy, coppery stench of spilled blood and internal organs. A barrage of verbal status reports – almost all negative – filled the air, along with various warning klaxons and the occasional scream of the wounded or dying (or their comrades screaming them into Sto’VoKor). G’rok scanned the visual status reports … just as he felt the cold, sharp steel against his neck.


Before his battered and exhausted body could fend off the attack, the blade was jammed deep into his throat, as a pair of strong Klingon arms reached up from behind his shoulders, helping to hold the large man in place. As he struggled – attempting to gurgle out an insult or threat – the soft, muted whine of a disruptor pistol squelched once, and he slid, lifelessly, onto the deck.


Commander Lla’asha Dk’tahg stepped forward, flanked by the two bridge officers who helped her obtain her newfound ‘promotion.’ The late, great General Vos’toK Dk’tahg, and his lackey – the equally dead and dishonored - G’rok Rag’naRok, had led them down a suicidal path, one that even her Klingon honor and warrior skill may not be able to deflect. “Order all pilots and flight crews to the fighter bays.” She commanded, immediately taking responsibility, still trying to save the prototype warship, what was left of her crew, not to mention the Dk’tahg family’s good name within the Empire … and still retain her ‘warrior’s honor.’ “Have all remaining non-essential personnel to the shuttles, and send everyone else out through the escape pods. We may be bleeding, but even a dying man still knows how to fight.” After receiving a handful of affirmative nods and soft murmurs of assent from what was left of her bridge crew, Commander Lla’asha sat back in her Captain’s chair, bracing against the unending series of rocking explosions hammering the once-mighty warship. “And will somebody dispose of THAT!” she ordered, jabbing a finger at the prone, dead form of the former Captain.


“Status report!” she howled over another shaking rattle (knowing full well just how bad the news would be). “Shield bubble is down to 12%; 90% of our offensive capability is ruined, and most remaining weapons systems are offline. We are outnumbered and outgunned, Commander.” 

A shower of sparks erupted from a nearby power conduit, filling the nose with the scents of burning plastic and flesh, and the Commander’s ears rang with the screams. As she contemplated her next – and most likely, final – move, the burning man was being extinguished and mercy killed … leaving her just enough time to devise a desperate last stand. “What is our navigational status?” After a few seconds of no response, she turned to see one of her remaining bridge officers limping over to a redundant helm station on the upper level. “Impulse engines” he heaved “are at 48% efficiency – HAAACK!” The officer – whom Lla’asha recognized as a Dk’tahg brother – coughed up a copious amount of lavender blood before continuing. “We do have transwarp capability …” the man’s breathing became more labored and ragged as he spoke “but only one of the conduits are installed and online. I doubt we could outrun anything out there.” The warrior then burst into a long, hacking fit, gripping on to the station for balance.


“We are in the eye of the storm, my warriors.” She announced, calmly; “Open a channel to the fleet.” Hearing no affirmation of her order, she turned to see the comm. stations were all unmanned – and several were disabled as well. “I said: open a channel!!!” The young tactical officer ran over to the main communication station – sliding away the charred, twisted corpse there, first - and switched on the ship to ship band. “This is Commander Lla’asha, daughter of X’ia, House of Dk’tahg. I have commandeered this warship in service to the Emperor. We have killed the rogue Captain who took over this vessel and attacked the fleet. We stand by for your orders.” After the channel was closed, Cmdr. Dk’tahg announced to the three officers left on her bridge; “Inform all exiting crew to execute the Emergency protocols my predecessor left in place.”


The Commander took no joy in what she was planning (“We were supposed to save the homeworld, not destroy it…” she thought), but was driven – much like her despised, failed forerunner – by the (very Klingon) desire to hold onto as much honor as she and her crew could, before their inevitable, crushing defeat. The starfighters, shuttlecraft and even the escape pods would ditch a final, last-chance blitz as soon as she gave the order; hopefully turning the tables on the Imperial fleet and allowing the Honor Blade to limp away somewhere safe. “So we may affect repairs and finish what General Dk’tahg had started” she thought, apprehensively adding this necessary rationalization to cover up her guilt for such a cowardly, self-preserving thought. “I don’t think those human-loving p’tahQ’s are prepared for escape pods carrying cloaked disruptor miniguns and torpedo payloads” … 

Back on the Khitomer, Mekh'Tar surveyed the damage with numb detachment, knowing that this victory had been a phyrric one. Too much had been lost.

An officer at the comm station broke the silence. "General, The Honor Blade appears to be crippled, and the fleet is proceeding to disable her remaining weapons' arrays. Ship commanders are reporting the Honor Blade is launching all shuttles, fighters and escape pods. They're requesting orders."

"Nothing makes it off that ship alive." Mekh'Tar said coldly. "Destroy every escape pod and shuttle that comes off that ship. Order the fleet to continue firing on the Honor Blade until nothing larger than a speck of dust remains."

"Yes, General." The comm officer proceeded to relay the instructions.

It took a full ten minutes of nonstop pounding before the monstrosity's quantum drive was breached. The resulting detonation blinded many watching from the planet below, and lit up the skies of the entire hemisphere.

The bridge crew of the Khitomer roared in triumph as the Honor Blade exploded. The only one who remained silent was the General. He gazed at the explosion, blank look in his eyes.

'K'Vara....' Mekh'Tar thought to himself. 'K'Vara..... your death was not in vain. Your teacher may have failed you, but at the last, he has avenged you.'

He waited several moments until the roars died down. He got up and turned to his comm officer. "Send out another broadcast. All frequencies, no encryption."

There was another nod before Mekh'Tar proceeded.

=/\= Attention all citizens of Qo'Nos and all ships in the homeworld system. Due to the emergency situation in the city of Cam'Chee, I am hereby declaring martial law upon the entire system. All vessels will either dock or land immediately, and all those not wishing to be shot on sight will remain in their homes until further notice. That is all. =/\=

Mekh'Tar closed the channel, but two blips on his sensors caught his attention. "What are they?" The General asked his tactical officer.

"Two vessels." The officer replied. "Scans indicate they are the IKV Valkyrie and the SS Seiklon Axel. The Valkyrie is the flagship of the house To'Var, and the Axel is....." The tac officer's eyes grew wide. "General, the Axel is wanted in two systems. K'Vara's last report said that the Axel was sighted attacking the capitol. Her targets are not known."

"Surround them. Open a channel to both vessels." Mekh'Tar said grimly.

=/\= Axel and Valkyrie. This is General Mekh'Tar. Drop your shields and power down your weapons and engines. Your crews will be taken into custody.=/\=

Reggie stood at attention before the view screen, next to the empty captain’s chair. Turning to his crew, he nodded, and the ship’s engines ceased, the weapons turned off, the shields dropped. Reggie hated feeling this vulnerable, but he would not tolerate any sign of hesitation or fear--this was their general, their fleet, their people.

Korav's reply came angry and indignant.

=/\= General, unless you've had your sensors turned off for the last half hour, WE were the ones who planted that bomb on the Honor Blade!! WE helped you pull that little stunt of yours! =/\=

=/\= Your insolence does not help your situation, 'Captain' =/\= Mekh'Tar practically spat the word.

=/\= Look, just let me and Reggie beam over and talk to you. We have all the proof you need. We weren't working with the Rebels! =/\=

Reggie made a fist with his right, and struck his chest, then extended the arm in salute. =/\= It was the crew of the Axel that took out the rebel base.=/\=

=/\= Because of your house's high standing.... =/\= Mekh'Tar said after a pause. =/\= I'll let you present your case to me. I want you and Mr. Korav to beam over to the Khitomer. I want the FULL story of what happened out here. =/\=

=/\= Of course, General,=/\= Reggie said, as he saluted. When he knew for certain that the transmission had ended, he exhaled, and turned to Kira. “I get to meet Gen. Mekh’Tar! Diana is going to be so envious. Try to keep the ship in one piece while I’m gone.”

Mekh'Tar didn't bother replying. He made a cutting gesture and got up from his seat. "I'll be in my ready room. You're in charge, Captain." He told his XO. He wearily walked off the bridge, a heavy weight on his shoulders.


-------------Back on the Axel--------------

Korav breathed a sigh of relief as he replied: "Alright I'll be on-" The channel was abruptly cut off. Korav shook his head in frustration for a second as he sat back in the command chair. "Sel.....why me?" He moaned.

His XO cocked her head in sympathy, her earlier temper finally worn out in the face of relief that they were all alright. "You need to not go?" she asked.

"Well, what else is there to do?" Korav replied, moving to get out of the chair. "Go over there, talk to the old fart and hope he doesn't-gah!" He clutched at his arm in pain. The disruptor blast had been a bigger deal than he'd thought it would be. The skin where the impact had occured was charred, and he still couldn't feel his fingers.

"Korav, for the love of god, let Kim or Ernie have a look at you," insisted Selvine.

"I'll be fine." Korav growled. "Just need some dermal regen, that's all." His words came through gritted teeth. He hoped to God that the Klingons hadn't been investing in anticoagulant weaponry like the Jem'Hadar had been using. He couldn't tell how badly he was bleeding.

"If you say so," she acknowledged dubiously. She was tired of arguing with him, though - she just wanted this damn fiasco to be over. "What's our gameplan while you're gone?"

"Any sign of trouble...." Korav told her. "Just get the hell outta here. Forget about me, you hear? Better we die in a fireball than let those Klinks take us in. Rura Penthe is no joke. Understand?"

She snorted, both of them knowing it was a futile argument but that she would do whatever she had to. But he was already gone.

Korav didn't reply as he made his way to the turbolift. He leaned heavily against the wall as the lift took him to sickbay.
The sickbay doors opened to reveal the Captain, growing quite pale, as he stumbled against a wall. "There a doctor in the house?" He called out.

Kim sprang to Korav’s side, and taking him gently by the injured arm, helped him to a bio-bed. “Ernie, reactivate; (authorization code kilo-lima-911),” she said. “The Captain’s been hurt.”

"Why am I not surprised?" Ernie said as he materialized behind Kim. "Gone off and got yourself shot up, did you? Predictable. Lay him down on a bio-bed please, Miss Lee."

Kim did as instructed, then opened the top drawer of a cabinet directly behind the medical bed. She pulled out a medical kit, removed the tri-corder, and turned it on.

Korav grudgingly allowed himself to be laid down while Kim ran the tricorder over him. "Could you make it quick, please? I've got a date with a cranky old Klingon in a bit."

"Well then, my best medical advice would be to change your courtship habits, Captain." Ernie said caustically. "It appears that you have suffered a rather serious disruptor burn. Tissue damage is extensive, and you've lost a bit of blood. Would you please begin the regeneration therapy, Miss Lee? I'll program the bio-bed to begin transfusing synthblood to replace his cell count and blood volume."

Kim almost choked on her own tongue, trying not to laugh at Ernie’s off-the-cuff remark about the Captain’s dating habits. She turned away quickly, so Korav wouldn’t see the silly grin that had replaced the fear she felt only moments before. Regaining some semblance of composure, she replied, “Yes, doctor,” and did as the EMH instructed.

"Blood? I thought laser weaponry cauterized the wound?" Korav said as he shot Ernie an incredulous look.

"This design of disruptor is set to burn and cause tissue damage, not cauterize or disintegrate. The burnt tissue falls off, leaving damaged subdermal layers underneath." Ernie said as he stood by the bio-bed. Robotic arms emerged from the bed and began prepping Korav's arm for the transfusion. A needle popped up and inserted itself into Korav's arm and began pumping a sickly red fluid into his veins.

"In English, please?" Korav sighed.

"It cooks the outer layer of your skin, then makes your skin fall off so that you can bleed more good. Have I made myself abundantly clear?" Ernie said with a smile.

"I swear, when I get back I'm gonna delete your smartass routines." The Captain growled.

"But until then, I suggest you remain still until your treatment is finished." Ernie looked towards Kim. "Miss Lee, how is he responding to the dermal regenerator?"

Kim looked down at Korav’s arm, and was surprised to find that the captain was healing twice as fast as a normal human. Turning back toward the EMH, she answered, “He’s almost completely recovered, Sir.”

Ernie nodded, and the robotic arms removed the needle and bandaged Korav's arm. "Very well, I wish you luck, Captain. You won't be able to feel your fingers for a bit while your nerves regain their function. May I recommend a sling to stabilize it until it heals up?"

"Go to hell." Korav growled as he stormed out of sickbay, bad arm hanging limply by his side.

"I'm already there." Ernie sighed. "Is he ALWAYS like this, or is it the disruptor wound getting him down?"

Kim turned to face Ernie. “I once asked Calvin the same thing, and he told me, ‘I don’t know. I’ve only known Korav for a few years.’”

---Onboard Khitomer----
Korav materialized in the transporter room of the IKS Khitomer. First face he saw was Reggie's.

"Quite a party we've got here." He nodded. "Did your General friend remember to bring the rest of the Beta Quadrant Fleet while he was at it?"

“There’s no telling,” Reggie replied. Korav shot him a look, and he said, “No, really. Even if I knew, there’s no telling.”

"Come on, let's get this over with." Korav sighed as four heavily armed Klingon ground troops entered the room.

When they were still small children, Diana told her younger brothers that Klingons found normal human expressions of curiosity, trepidation, fatigue or boredom weak, stupid and irritating. Klingons play as hard as they fight, but for the most part, they are serious, aggressive or seriously aggressive. Even most grownups would find it difficult to maintain such an intense expression for any amount of time, especially when they’re not feeling very brave, but for the children rescued along with Diana, it was imperative that they learn to meet a Klingon warrior’s gaze. The secret, she said, was to imagine that someone in the room has farted--the silent, but deadly kind. Sniff, make a face, then look around, as if trying to figure out who the guilty party is. As silly as this sounds, the Hunter boys expressions always appeared to be contemptuous and confident.


Reggie looked at the armed escort with distaste, and was pleased to see that this simple trick still worked. The Valkyre’s XO turned to Korav. The captain of the Axel seemed truly pissed, or maybe he was just constipated. In either case, the Klingon honor guard was maintaining a respectful distance.


Reggie checked the front of the warriors’ uniforms for signs of rank, and found that this security detail was led by a bridge officer. Reggie saluted, and said, “Reginald Hunter, Son of Grant Armstrong Hunter, Executive Officer, the IKS Valkyre.”


Korav simply waved. "Korav. Captain of the Axel. How you doin?"


The Klingon returned the salute, and said, “I am B’Yrak, son of Klaris, Intel Officer of this ship, the Khitomer.” B’Yrak knew all about the Hunters, and looked at the other man, as if appraising an opponent. The human seemed smaller than the reputation that preceded him, but the Intel officer knew that size was no real indication of a warrior’s worth. “The General would speak to you in his ready room,” he said finally.


Reggie fell in step with B’Yrak, Korav directly behind him. The rest of the security detail took up positions to the left, right and behind the Axel’s captain. As they moved through the corridors to the turbo lift, Reggie admired the flagship of the Defense Forces. Under the circumstances, it hardly seemed appropriate to ask questions, but B’Yrak noticed where the young man’s attention was focused, and with great pride, the Intel officer described the state of the art engines and shielding.


Korav simply kept his mouth shut, eyes darting about, analyzing possible escape routes in case this turned into a shooting match. The more he analyzed, however, the less chance he found of escaping. It was times like these that Korav was glad he didn't have any pupils. It made it easier to look at something you weren't supposed to be looking at.


While B’Yrak’s manner did seem to indicate that this visit might not lead to their imminent

death or imprisonment, Reggie remembered a quote from his childhood, and said, “When you’re going to kill someone, it costs nothing extra to be polite.”


As they entered the turbo lift, B’Yrak started to laugh--a deep, genuine laugh that reverberated off the walls. The other guards smiled and nodded; pretending to understand their commanding officer’s sense of humor. “Earth history, Second World War, the Japanese attacked a major port before making a formal declaration of war. Some 200 years later, this quote was attributed to a major crime lord who offered his victims a blindfold before killing them. What was his name? Oh yes, Gentleman Jerry Ford--a very colorful character.”


"Ha ha friggity ha...." Korav said dryly. "Where are you going with this?" He folded his arms and shot B'Yrak a glare.

“I believe you know something of crime and crime lords, Captain,” B’Yrak said without emotion.


"You don't survive twenty years in the Delta Quadrant doing only honest business, B'Yrak." Korav shrugged. "However, I don't believe the Empire has any jurisdiction there, so if you've got something to accuse me of...."

“Relax Captain, that’s not why you’ve been brought here today,” B’Yrak told them, as the doors to the Khitomer’s main bridge opened. Several heads turned, as they were escorted to Mekh'Tar’s ready room. The large Klingon in the black body armor with medals for valor and rank touched the button next to the door, and said, “What you’ve been brought here for is much more serious.”


Mekh'Tar turned to see Reggie and Korav enter the room. "Leave us." Mekh'Tar ordered.

The Intel officer saluted, and turned to leave, knowing that he might be called upon again in the very near future to interrogate the two men.

"Mr. Hunter, you go first. What happened down there? And why was your ship spotted covering the Axel when she attacked the capitol?"

Reggie stood at attention, and looking the general in the eyes, truthfully replied, “Captain Korav is a trusted friend of House To’var. We were about to leave for the Delta Quadrant when one of his crew, a member of House Dk’tahg, was delayed due to, what we believed at the time, to be a house matter. House Dk’tahg would have made an excellent ally, and Gen. Vos’tok’s reputation was great, so I committed my ship and crew to defend House Dk’tahg. It was when the general negotiated with Capt. Korav,” Reggie turned and nodded toward the Axel’s CO, then turned back to face Mekh’Tar, “that I realized that something was wrong. Klingon generals don’t sweat, and I could hear fear in his voice. I was able to send a copy of this conversation to someone of trust on the Chancellor’s staff, but before I could warn Korav and his crew, all communications in this sector of space were jammed--commercial and military.

Mekh'Tar nodded. "And you, 'Captain'?" Mekh'Tar folded his arms.

"Same deal as Reggie." Korav said matter-of-factly. "This Vos'Tok ordered us to attack targets. Didn't know we were hitting friendlies. Realized it in time to take out the real bad guys before the Dk'Tahg forces were overrun. Took care of our 'friend' Vos'Tok too."

"Did it ever occur to you that a KLINGON General would never stoop to hire mercenary scum such as yourself?" Mekh'Tar growled. "Anyone who knows anything about our traditions will know that we don't allow outsiders to interfere in our internal conflicts. You took it upon yourself to do the job that KLINGON warriors should have accomplished. You should've known better." He shook his head.

“The general manipulated not only communications, but sensor data,” Reggie added. “It was impossible to tell a legitimate target from a daycare center, and Capt. K’Vara’s fleet originally registered as KLF fighters. Vos’tok may have tried to set us up for both his dirty work and the fall, but it was the Axel that took out the enemy’s stronghold and the general himself.

"You remember that bigass hole in the Honor Blade's engineering section?" Korav said, pointing a thumb outside the door. "That was us. If it weren't for us, you would've had a tougher fight. How many ships did you lose? 5? Try tripling that number. How many warriors would've been slaughtered trying to dent that monster's shields? You owe us."

"That may buy you some leniency with the tribunal." Mekh'Tar smirked. "But a last-minute change of heart for the sake of your own benefit will not change your intentions to begin with. You are either a fool, a liar, or a dirty rebel. In any case, you deserve to be executed."

"WHAT?" Korav shouted. "Hey! We HELPED you!!"

Reggie turned to Korav, and motioned for the older man not to lose his temper. If they were turned over to the Klingon justice system, it would take several days to bury the dead, and perhaps cooler heads would prevail, but pushing a Klingon general while under martial law was suicide. The younger man didn’t show any of the conflicting emotions warring within him. But, he wouldn’t abandon an ally--and maybe the only person who could bring his sister back alive.

"Mr. Hunter, you will be commended for your service to the Empire, and escorted off my ship. Mr. Korav, your crew will stand trial for your role in the attack upon the homeworld. Now both of you GET OUT!"

Mekh'Tar's door opened and two troopers walked in, phasers leveled at Reggie and Korav.

"Sir!" A comm officer reported. "We've got a message incoming from..... council headquarters."

"What does that fool M'Relkan want NOW??" Mekh'Tar said through clenched teeth. He tapped a button on his console, but instead of the Chancellor's face, an Andorian's face appeared instead.

"Good Evening, Mekh'Tar. Far to long." D'vek smiled urbanely. "I require the services of these Mercenaries you have in your custody. In doing so, we shall consider our personal matter concluded."

"D'Vek, I owe you, but these mercenaries are responsible for attacks upon the Capitol. They MUST be tried!" Mekh'Tar knew that he'd have to honor his promise to the Siridon CEO, and that this argument was futile, but he spoke up nonetheless.

"And tried they will be!" D'Vek knew what the bare teeth smile would do to the klingon psyche. "They shall be tried on the anvil of Sto'Vo'Kor itself. Death itself shall be their judge. And before they have proven themselves worthy, they shall find themselves wishing for your tender mercies."

"You're blowing hot smoke, and it offends me to hear you even try." Mekh'Tar crossed his arms.

"ENOUGH!" D'Vek half shouted. "Mekh'Tar, Son of T'Harth, You and I both know I WILL get custody. The choice is yours, old friend. Do I get it from you? Or do I get the Chancellor to get it for me?

Mekh'Tar gritted his teeth, angry at the CEO's audacity, as well at his mistaken belief that M'Relkan was in any situation to challenge him. "Well, if you seem that desperate to have them, then I'll release them to your people. But hear this: our score is settled. My debt of honor is repaid."

"Of course." D'vek knew when it was time to be gracious, or at least when to keep his mouth shut.

"I'll release the Axel's Captain back to his vessel. My ships will keep the Axel tractored until you work out your arrangement with them." Mekh'Tar said, sitting back down on at his desk.

"I will let you know when we have reached an agreement has been reached, a pleasure as always, Mekh'Tar"

Mekh'Tar slammed a fist on his durasteel table as soon as the transmission was cut. He looked up and shot Korav a venemous glare. "Get off my ship." He ordered.

Korav didn't need to be told twice. He turned around and stormed out the door, followed by his two escorts.