Star Trek: New Horizons Episode 1 (New Beginnings Part Two) by captaintigranian
Summary: The crew of the Pershing is dispatched to Planet Telarak in the Romulan Zone of Occupation to investigate an alleged weapons smuggling ring operated by the Promagistrate and the Orion Syndicate.
Categories: Expanded Universes Characters: None
Genre: Action/Adventure
Warnings: Adult Language, Adult Situations, Violence
Challenges: None
Series: Star Trek: New Horizons
Chapters: 6 Completed: Yes Word count: 10769 Read: 8673 Published: 14 Feb 2016 Updated: 03 Mar 2016

1. Chapter 1 by captaintigranian

2. Chapter 2 by captaintigranian

3. Chapter 3 by captaintigranian

4. Chapter 4 by captaintigranian

5. Chapter 5 by captaintigranian

6. Chapter 6 by captaintigranian

Chapter 1 by captaintigranian
Five Light Years from Atbar Prime: Federation Occupation Zone, Cardassian Space

Stardate: 52983.6

“Alright,” Katie said walking across the mat on the floor of the Pershing’s starboard holodeck. She was dressed in a bright white gi and pleated, black hakama pants. “The ability to defend yourself is extremely important. We’re in a dangerous line of work, and you could find yourself in a rough situation without a phaser very easily.”

About twenty students, including Annabeth, Alex, and Laria, were gathered around her. They were dressed in their own white uniforms, and intently listening to every word. Katie’s self-defense course had become Wednesday morning’s most popular onboard event.

“The key to effective fighting is using as little effort as possible to do maximum damage to your opponent. It’s amazing how much you can do by using their own energy against them. Computer, activate Stone Sparring Opponent Level 1.”

A large human male appeared on the mat next to her.

“The most likely way you are likely to be attacked is from behind.” She turned her back to the hologram and announced, “Begin Program.” The human charged from behind and tried to wrap his arm around her neck. Effortlessly, Katie locked the hologram’s arm inside her own, used its momentum to heave it over her shoulder, and sent it careening into the mat. “Now, the key here is to maintain control of the wrist…” she said holding the hologram’s arm vertically, “because then all I have to do is come down with just my body weight.” She dropped her knee directly onto the hologram’s elbow which snapped with a loud crack. Everyone winced as her practice dummy started screaming. “Computer Reset Opponent.” The figure disappeared and re-appeared in its original stance.

“Another possibility is the direct frontal attack. You never want to try to stand still and take the force. Remember, redirect their energy as simply as you can. Computer, Begin Program.” The human charged directly at her and threw a punch. Katie raised her hands in front of her, gently deflecting the blow as she stepped to the side. With a gentle move of her right foot, she knocked her opponent’s feet from under him. The hologram fell backwards into her left knee before dropping to the mat unconscious.

“But what if the opponent is a lot bigger and stronger than you are? Won’t they just grab you and toss you around?” asked a female crewman standing next to Alex.

“That’s actually a really common fear among the women I train. They think that they’re at a real disadvantage in those situations. The reality is, the bigger the opponent, the easier it is to hurt them. They have to use more energy to come at you which is more energy you can use against them,” Katie replied.

No one paid much attention to Captain Tigranian, already in duty uniform, as he walked onto the holodeck and leaned against a wall to watch.

“Computer, activate Stone Sparring Opponent Level 5.” The unconscious human on the ground disappeared, and three fully grown Nausciaans surrounded Katie. Each one was at least a meter taller and 75 kilograms heavier than her.

“There’s no way!” Laria whispered to Annabeth off to the side of the mat.

“Just watch,” Annabeth said.

“Computer, Begin Program.” The first Nausicaan charged forward and attempted to wield his fist like a hammer to a nail. Katie side-stepped again, grabbed his wrist, and flipped him over onto his back. A quick strike to his face with her heel put him out of commission just in time for her to duck underneath the punch of the second Nausicaan. Katie raised her palms in front of her as he reared back for another strike. Effortlessly, she redirected his arm underneath her own, locking it with her elbows. A minor shift of her weight sent him flying down into the mat as well. The final Nausicaan attempted to grab her around the waist. She reached up behind his neck, dropped to one knee, and sent him tumbling down like a sack of dirt. He hit his head with his full body weight and went limp.

Everyone in the crowd starting applauding. Tigranian stood in the back with a smile on his face.

“Computer, delete opponents. Never underestimate yourself or what you can do with the right training. Now, let’s pair off and start practicing some of the wrist locks were learned last week.”

The rest of her students started their drills. Katie started coaching them while Annabeth walked over to the Captain.

“She’s really good,” Annabeth said to Tigranian.

“I can see that,” he said with a grin. “She was the Academy champion two years in a row…”

“Three years in a row, actually, Sir,” Katie said walking over to the pair. “You know, Sir, there’s always room for one more here if you’re interested.”

“No thanks,” he said with a chuckle. “I prefer training on my own.”

“You’re a Mok’Bara grand master, aren’t you?” Katie said curiously.

“Just a master,” Tigranian, said shaking his head. “Never been able to get past chenmoH’Itlh.”

“Fought a lot of different styles over the years, but never met anyone proficient in Klingon martial arts. Really like to spar. I think it would be good for them to see too, she said pointing to the others.”

“I don’t know,” Tigranian said skeptically.

“Sir, c’mon. You aren’t scared are you?” Katie said trying to edge him on.

“I don’t know if that’s a good idea, Katie,” Annabeth said turning towards her.

“No, Commander,” Tigranian said unzipping his jacket and removing his boots. “Now, I’m curious, myself.” Katie grinned from ear to ear.

“Alright everybody!” Katie announced to the class. “We have a special guest today. Captain Tigranian is going to help me demonstrate some interstellar mixed martial arts. Circle around.” Everyone cheered and gathered around the mat.

Tigranian stood across from Katie.

“Don’t hold anything back, Sir,” she said looking him in the face. He nodded in reply.

Suddenly, they lunged at each other. Katie grabbed the captain’s wrist and sent him flying into the mat. She dropped a knee into his chest and raised her fist into the air.

“Dammit, Sir,” she whispered. “I told you, don’t hold anything back. I’m trying to teach them what it’s like to be in a real fight. They need to see it…” She dropped her fist and offered him a hand.

“Ok,” he said grabbing her hand. They took their positions again. This time, Tigranian closed his eyes and took a deep breath. Gracefully, he extended his right leg behind him, and leaned his weight onto his left foot. In a circular motion, he brought his arms around over his head, placing his palms facing up and down directly in front of his chest. His fingers curled like a sabre bear’s claws. Katie placed her own hands, palms out, in front of her.

“Are you ready, Sir?” she asked confidently. Tigranian slowly opened his eyes.

“En’chA,” he replied before flying forward, striking at Katie with large circular blows. She used her hands to deflect his strikes, but was unable to get a hold of him this time. Finally, he reared back and struck her face with an open palm strike. She flew backwards several feet. A slow trickle of blood began from the corner of her mouth. She grinned as she wiped it away with the back of her sleeve.

“Better?” he said calmly.

“Much,” she said before charging forward again. This time, she was on the offensive. Punching, kicking, throwing elbows, all at full speed.

“They’re going to kill each other!” Laria said to Alex and Annabeth.

“They know what they’re doing…” Annabeth replied just as Katie sent a knee flying into Tigranian’s stomach. He doubled forward as Katie backhanded him across the face. He saw stars and tasted blood, but kept fighting.

“Are you sure?” Alex said raising an eyebrow.

Before she could get him a headlock, Tigranian spun around and attempted a strike into her side. Katie dropped to the mat and somersaulted sideways, barely avoiding a nasty set of broken ribs.

She jumped back to her feet, spun around, and roundhouse kicked to Tigranian’s head. He deflected it, and attempted another palm strike with his left hand, but Katie had learned from her last mistake. She raised her palms and deflected its energy sideways, allowing herself to get a grip on his wrist. Before she could throw him, Tigranian wrapped his lower leg around her heel, effectively locking the two them together. With a pair of screams, both reared back with their right fists.

“That’s enough!” Annabeth yelled from the sideline.

Katie and Tigranian paused, both breathing heavily. Suddenly, they both started laughing. The captain threw his arms around Katie and gave her a big hug.

“Great job,” he said.

“You too, Sir,” she replied as the assembled crowd breathed a huge sigh of relief. “Alright, everybody,” that’s all the time we have for this week, but I’ll see you next Wednesday. Be sure you practice Forms 1 and 2 on your own so we can test out on them.” As the rest of the students dispersed, Annabeth and Alex stepped up to Katie and the captain.

“Don’t you think that was a little much?” Annabeth asked.

“Not at all,” Tigranian said placing his hands on his hips. “I really needed that.”

“You have got to teach me that circular move you need with your arms, Sir. That was awesome!” Katie said reaching for her water bottle. Her mouth was still bleeding and she was walking with a pronounced limp.

“It’s called way’gho,” Tigranian said with another smile. “It lets you carry straight into majQa’.” He suddenly realized his left eye was starting to swell shut. He finally let himself wince. “But you’re pretty good in the strike department already.”

“Ok, ok,” Alex said walking up to the two of them. “You can talk about ways to injure each other later, but right now the both of you get to sick bay, Chief Medical Officer’s orders.”

Half an hour later, Katie and Tigranian sat meekly on a biobed next to each other like children in the school nurse’s office after a fight.

“You’re both pretty lucky,” Alex said putting away her dermal regenerator. “I’m a fantastic doctor, but a terrible dentist. Two centimeters to the right or left and both of you would be walking around without front teeth.”

“Thanks, Mom,” Katie said sarcastically. Tigranian chuckled.

“Despite my best efforts, you’re probably both gonna be a little bit sore tomorrow.”

“Not the first time, and won’t be the last…” Tigranian said cheerfully. Alex just grumbled.

“Captain,” the intercom came to life. “Priority One Message from Admiral Murphy at Starfleet Command.”

Tigranian tapped the communicator on his chest. “I’ll take it in my ready room.” He turned to Alex, “Unless…”

“Oh we’re done here,” she replied with a look. Tigranian hopped off the bed and walked out the doors.

“I need a shower,” Katie said stepping down.

“Yes, you do.” Alex said with a laugh.

* * * *

An hour later, the senior staff assembled in the ward room behind the bridge for their daily meeting. Taking their seats at the conference table, Katie was still bragging to Phil about the fight.

“I would have had him,” Katie said confidently.

“Really?” Alex said cocking her head to one side. “Because I was standing right there, and it looked like you about to render each other unconscious.”

“Been punched in the face plenty of times and kept going before,” Katie said proudly. “Laria, back me up on this.”

“Oh no, not getting involved,” Laria said raising both hands in the air.

Tren Scharr, the Pershing’s chief engineer chuckled to himself at the end of the table.

“Obviously, Lieutenant,” you’ve never been punched by an Andorian before. “Back home, we train by shattering blocks of ice with our bare hands.”

“Which I’m sure is very useful if you ever have to get in a fight with a snowman, Sir.” Phil laughed and Annabeth just shook her head.

Suddenly, the doors opened and Captain Tigranian walked in.

“The Captain,” Annabeth said as everyone climbed to their feet.

“As you were,” Tigranian said taking his seat at the head of the table with his ubiquitous mug of raktajino.

“Lieutenant Stone was just regaling us with the story of your mighty battle this morning, Sir,” Annabeth said as everyone took their seats again.

“Really?” Tigranian said taking a sip of his coffee. “I’ll be sure to have her tell me what really happened when we have time.” He flashed Katie a smile which was returned with a grin. “However, duty finally calls!” Tigranian punched a few keys on the control panel in front of him. The image of a star system appeared on the holoscreen on the wall.

“Ladies and Gentlemen, Telarak, a gas giant located twenty five light years from here. One of its moons is Class M…barely…and supports a small native population of sentient lifeforms in a few scattered settlements. Before the war, Telarak was a rather unremarkable Cardassian possession, a stop-over on the Lissapian and Ventaxian trade routes between Cardassia Prime and Romulus, with only a minor presence of constabulary militia. However, after its occupation by Romulan forces, it has since become a major military transportation hub due to its proximity to the Romulan frontier as well as large deposits of meladium gas located in the atmosphere of the gas giant…”

“I’m sorry, Sir, meladium gas?” Phil asked. “I’ve never heard of it.” Tigranian glanced over at Laria who picked up on her cue.

“It’s a rare molecular compound that’s not very common in most warp-capable societies. However, the unique characteristics of the Romulan D’Deridex class warbird’s quantum singularity drive means the ship requires it as a stabilizing agent. It is one of the few substances that can absorb Hawking Radiation without being ionized and the Romulans use it as a sort of ‘control rod’ in their warp drives…”

“I knew there was a reason we kept her around,” Phil said causing Laria to blush.

“I keep her around because all you know how to do is drive, Phil, and not very well at that,” Tigranian said taking another sip of raktajino. The whole table laughed before getting back to the topic at hand. “The Telarak system has since become the home of a Romulan gas mining station, a small space dock, and a garrison of about 800 legionnaires in the moon’s primary settlement. It is also the base of operations for one of the Romulans’ occupational governors, Promagistrate Kival…”

“As you’ve said, Sir,” Scharr interjected himself. “Telarak is in the Romulan Zone. Why does it concern us?”

“And that brings me to the point, Mr. Scharr,” Tigranian continued. “According to Article X of the Treaty of Bajor, all surplus Dominion, Cardassian, and Breen weapons and munitions are to be immediately collected by Occupation Authorities and turned over to the Central Authority on Cardassia Prime for registration and disposal. Telarak, however, has been turning over a surprisingly low amount of weaponry for the amount of Dominion activity that occurred in that sector…”

“They think Kival might be skimming off the top? Selling weapons on the black market?” Katie asked.

“Yes, but Starfleet can’t prove it. They’ve lodged two separate requests for an official inquiry to the Romulan Senate, but predictably, nothing has been done. Apparently, Kival is pretty well connected with the Tal Shiar.”

“And I’m guessing Starfleet Intelligence wants us to find a way to prove it,” Alex said.

“How?” Annabeth said concerned. “Even with the cloaking device as soon as we activate transporters, Romulan sensors will detect the signature, and I doubt they’ll let a Federation Runabout just park at the spaceport without being watched like a hawk…”

“We’re making a quick stop at Cardassia Prime. The Field Office in the Federation Embassy has acquired a small, civilian cargo shuttle. We’ll launch it just outside of their sensor nets and it will take in the three-man away team.”

“Who exactly is on this away team?” Katie asked.

“Well, you of course,” Tigranian continued.

“Naturally,” Katie replied with more than a bit of smugness.

“Then, there’s Laria.”

“Me?!” she asked surprised. “What value to espionage do I possibly have?”

“The team needs an experienced sensor operator to use the listening devices Intelligence is also providing us with. You’re the best I got.”

“Who’s the third member of this away team?” Annabeth asked, concerned she already knew the answer.

“Me,” Tigranian said. Annabeth sighed in frustration.

“Sir, you do realize there are at least half a dozen Starfleet regulations that I’m required to remind you of about captains not going on risky away missions?”

“Save your breath, Commander,” he replied. “I can handle myself pretty damn well.”

“I knew this assignment was going to be fun…” Annabeth said trailing off.

“Where do we start, Sir?” Katie asked.

“Not far from the headquarters building there’s a local watering hole pretty popular with the Soldiers. Since the Romulans moved in, it’s been re-named, ‘The Raptor’s Claw.”

“What makes Starfleet Intelligence think that Kival is doing these transactions in a bar?” Scharr asked incredulously.

“Because, Mr. Scharr,” Tigranian said matter-of-factly, “it’s a known front for the Orion Syndicate.”
Chapter 2 by captaintigranian
The Jem’ Hadar disruptor blast slammed into the hull. A console beside her exploded in a shower of sparks. Petty Officer O’Reilly was hit and fell to the ground dead. Lieutenant Junior Grade Stone stayed at her post as officer in charge of the Trinity’s starboard torpedo bay. The targeting computers were offline and she had no choice but to manually arm and load the casings.

Two more crewmen slid another shiny, black photon tube up the launch track. As they pushed it towards the firing chamber, Katie removed a key from around her neck, opened the guidance panel, input the appropriate numbers, and then sealed the casing again. As the interior hatch sealed, Katie slammed her fist into the intercom.

“Bridge! Starboard Torpedo! Locked and loaded!” There was no response. “Bridge! Starboard Torpedo!” Suddenly a massive explosion rocked the entire torpedo bay. A huge, metal beam fell from the sealing and pinned Katie against the floor. That’s when she felt the hull plating rip away, opening the compartment to space. As the air sucked from the room, she heard the muffled screams of her entire team as they were pulled into the void. The only thing that saved her from joining them was the beam she was still trapped underneath.

As the vacuum overtook her, she instinctively held her breath, not allowing the pressure differential to pop her lungs. The pain was terrible as the capillaries in her eyes and nose burst. Then, the emergency force fields engaged and the bay re-pressurized. Katie gasped, but she was still on the verge of unconsciousness. She didn’t have enough strength left to move the beam.

She stared off through the hole in the side of the Trinity as the Battle of Betazed ended in catastrophic defeat. The Dominion invasion fleet had broken through the Starfleet lines. The Federation ships were already burning hulks adrift. Katie’s scattered mind registered that they were the only ones left…

A computerized alarm echoed through the compartment.

“Warning: anti-matter containment field integrity loss in five minutes. All Hands Abandon Ship. All Hands Abandon Ship.” She snapped back to her senses. She had to find him and get to the escape pods. She had to move this beam. Katie pushed with all her might, but it barely budged. She heard someone prying open the door to the compartment.

“Katie!” screamed the sweetest voice she ever heard. “Katie, are you in here!?”

“Paul!” she replied. “Under here!” A muscular Lieutenant J.G. in Command Red pushed his way through the debris towards her. He grabbed the beam and lifted with his legs.

“All that time I spend coaching you in the gym, and you can’t lift a damn beam…” he joked. As he got it off of her, he lifted her up and they embraced. “I just came from the bridge. They’re all dead. Survivors are scattered all over the ship. We gotta get to the escape pods.” Katie nodded and let him lead her into the dark, smoke filled corridor.

“Warning: anti-matter containment field integrity loss in four minutes. All Hands Abandon Ship. All Hands Abandon Ship.”

Everywhere, all Katie saw were dead bodies. These were the people she worked with every day. She screamed when saw Ensign Talis, the engineering officer she liked to eat lunch with on Tuesdays, cut in half by an emergency bulkhead that had sealed.

“Izzy!” she screamed trying to run toward her.

“Katie, she’s gone!” Paul said grabbing her around the waist and pulling her forward.

After what seemed like an eternity, they finally reached the escape pods.

“Warning: anti-matter containment field integrity loss in three minutes. All Hands Abandon Ship. All Hands Abandon Ship.”

Paul shoved Katie into the lifeboat first. She turned around and motioned for him to join her. But he just stood there.

“I love you, Katie. I always will. But there’s still time to get other people out… I just had to make sure you were safe first.” Before Katie could say anything, he slammed the activation control. The force field engaged and the launch hatch slammed shut.

“PAUL!” she screamed banging on the hatch, tears streaming down her face. “PAUL!” Suddenly, the magnetic interlocks disengaged and the escape pod shot away from the Trinity at a thousand meters per second. Katie found herself alone…she curled into a ball and sobbed until the shockwave from the ship’s exploding warp core hit…

Katie bolted awake screaming, her sheets soaking wet with sweat. She buried her head in her hands before stumbling over to the bathroom. She ran her hands under cold water and washed her face before heading back to bed.

Her hands trembling, she opened the drawer of her nightstand and pulled out a framed photograph. She and Paul were standing at the top of the Grand Canyon on Earth. Katie was holding her left hand up to the camera, proudly showing off her new engagement ring…

Now, in the lonely darkness of her quarters, she looked down at her empty ring finger, and felt tears streaming down her face again. She pulled the photograph into her chest and cried…

Very few things upset Katie, however, one of the things that genuinely sent her into a rage was when people complained they didn’t have enough time to do something. In the three minutes after he put her in the escape pod, her fiancée, Lieutenant Junior Grade Paul Montgomery, had saved the lives of four other people. He was saving his fifth when the Trinity’s warp core finally breached…

* * * *

The next morning, Katie walked into sickbay wearing a sand-colored robe and the civilian clothes of a Ventaxian merchant. It would be her uniform for the away mission to Telarak.

“Hey, Katie,” Alex said pulling a vial out of one her machines. “I wasn’t expecting you guys for another fifteen minutes.”

“Yeah,” Katie said quietly, “I wanted to talk to you first.” Alex nodded and motioned for her to come into her office.

“The dream again?” Alex asked softly. Katie just nodded fighting back tears. Alex wrapped her arms around her.

“That new stuff you have me on isn’t working,” Katie finally managed to get out.

“We’ve only been trying it for a week. It takes time.”

“Don’t you have something stronger?” Katie asked hopefully.

“Let’s give it another five or six days. Then, we can try Lexerin, but I want to avoid that if we can. It can have some pretty substantial side-effects.”

“Ok…” Katie said.

“Have you been keeping your appointments with Counselor Yuvich?”

“Yeah, talking with her helps for a while, but then it just comes back in waves.”

“Katie, I’m going to be honest with you,” Alex said. “Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder isn’t like the common cold you can cure with just a hypospray. It takes a lot of time and treatment. It’s going to be a life time battle…”

“I know that!” Katie said snapping. “Believe me, I do!” She stopped herself. “I’m sorry…”

“No, it’s ok,” Alex said placing a soft hand on her shoulder. “We’re gonna beat it together.” Just then the front doors to sick bay opened. Captain Tigranian and Laria stepped in, also wearing the sand colored robes.

Alex and Katie stepped out onto the main floor.

“There you are,” Tigranian said.

“Sorry, Sir…” Katie said trailing off. Tigranian saw her eyes and looked over to Alex. She nodded that it was alright. He changed the subject.

“Doc, have you synthesized that compound?”

“I have,” Alex said picking up the vial she was working on earlier, sticking it in the end of a hypospray. “Took a little digging through the Starfleet medical archives, but I think it will work just fine.” Tigranian pulled down his collar and Alex injected him with the drug.

“Why are we doing this?” Katie asked when it was her turn for the injection.

“Bolar, the owner of the Raptor’s Claw, also owns several lodubyaln. They can be very useful for acquiring information and manipulating patrons with their chemical charms. This will keep our heads clear when we’re inside.”

“Don’t the Romulans know them?” Katie asked confused.

“Romulans and Vulcans share a common physiology,” Alex said interjecting. “They’re immune from the pheromones.”

“I’m sorry, Sir,” Laria asked. “What’s a lodubyaln?”

“It’s the more politically correct term for ‘Orion Slave Girl.”

“Slave Girl?” Laria asked incensed. “Isn’t slavery illegal in the Romulan Empire?”

“Telarak isn’t in the Romulan Empire. Plus, it’s only illegal among Romulan citizens. Every other species is fair game,” Tigranian replied. “I don’t have to tell you, Laria, that most Federation citizens live in their naïve little world of equality and plenty. Most other species’ reality is a bit different.”

Several minutes later, the three of them stepped into the Pershing’s shuttle bay. Mr. Scharr was finishing the checks on their transportation: a tiny brown craft barely larger than a shuttle pod.

“What do you think, Tren?” Tigranian asked. “Will it do the job?”

“It’s a death trap, Sir, but I’ve spruced up a couple of the systems. Hopefully, it will hold together long enough to get you to the ground.”

“I’ve got confirmation from Starfleet Intelligence. You landing permit has been approved with Romulan Occupation Authorities,” Annabeth said entering the shuttle bay. “You, Sir, are William Oglesby, a civilian merchant who no longer resides within the Federation due to some questionable cargo shipments five years ago. Katie, you are Lizzie Appleton, his business partner running freight between Ventaxia and several of the newly acquired systems in Cardassian space…and Laria, you are Essa Ita, their Bajoran warp engineer and cargo specialist.”

“Thank you, Annabeth,” Tigranian said confidently.

“Are you sure I can’t talk you out of this,” she said still flashing him a look.

“Afraid not,” he said as Laria and Katie climbed into the cargo shuttle.

“Well, at least take this,” she said sliding a small, silver cylinder into his palm.

“I’m sure it won’t come to that,” he said.

“I don’t care, take it anyway.”

“Yes, Ma’am,” he said sarcastically. “Don’t worry, I’ve got two more old friends coming with me,” he said pulling open his robe. He had his Klingon dk’tagh on his right hip and disruptor pistol in a cross-draw holster on his left. “They’ve never let me down before.”

“I’d be happy, if you went down there and found out it was all just a big misunderstanding…in any case, we’ll see you at the rendezvous in thirty-six hours.”

“We’ll be there,” Tigranian said climbing into the shuttle’s cockpit.
Chapter 3 by captaintigranian
Two hours later, the cargo shuttle was approaching Telarak’s moon. It was a tiny ball of brown sand standing in contrast to the blue gas giant behind it. The first thing the three of them noticed was the green orbital space dock with two massive D’Deridex Warbirds in port. They also counted on several more cloaked Romulan vessels hiding around the rest of the system.

“Look at this size of those things,” Katie said staring at the viewport.

“They’re meant to be intimidating,” Tigranian said making a course correction. “A Galaxy class starship can fit inside them.”

“Ventaxian Shuttle,” the comm system said coming to life. “You have entered the Telarak Military Protectorate’s defensive perimeter. Present landing clearance or be destroyed.”

“Certainly don’t mince words, do they?” Laria said sounding a bit concerned.

“Romulan authorities,” Tigranian responded. “Clearance Transmitting Now.” After a few tense moments, the Romulans responded.

“Clearance granted to land at Spaceport One Alpha. Do not deviate from your present course or you will be fired upon.”

“Acknowledged.”

Tigranian maneuvered the shuttle to the landing bay. After shutting the systems down, the three of them disembarked, raised their hoods over their faces, and made their way towards the city. In the spaceport’s dilapidated entry hall, an audio recording of a happy female voice played in several languages, including Federation Basic.

“Welcome to the Duty Free Trade Zone of the Telarak Military Protectorate of the Romulan Star Empire. Uniformed personnel are here to assist you. Please familiarize yourself with the legal codes and prohibited areas prior to exiting the space port. Any lawlessness will be severely punished. All personnel are subject to arrest, interrogation, and indefinite detainment at any time. Thank you, and enjoy your stay! The Romulan Star Empire: Peace, Prosperity, and Progress.”

As they stepped into the street, the burning trinary suns immediately started cooking them. The super-heated winds carried sand and grit with them, irritating whatever skin they touched. The three of them wrapped their cloaks around their faces to provide some basic protection.

“This place is literally hell,” Katie said barely able to breathe in the oppressive heat, swirling winds, and stench that could only be described as a mix between human excrement and rotting meat.

The street was barely five meters wide between the mud brick and sandstone buildings. Massive iron gates in front of the buildings concealed hidden court yards in front of the private residences. Both sides of the thoroughfare were crowded with vendors, food stands, and drinking establishments. Fifty different languages were being shouted from every direction as the mocha-skinned Telarak natives, with their glassy third eye in the middle of their forehead, mixed with Phebans, Ferengi, Romulan traders, and even a few of the remaining Cardassian colonials that had survived life under the Dominion in relative isolation.

Laria barely missed stepping in a puddle of unremitting foulness that was putrefying in front of a local butcher. He was slaughtering a creature that looked like a green, meter-long earth slug.

“I think I’m going to throw up, Sir,”

Tigranian turned back sharply and spoke through gritted teeth, “Don’t call me, Sir. That goes for both of you. I’m William or Bill, got it?” Laria nodded somewhat nervously.

“No, problem…Billy.” Katie smirked. Tigranian ignored her.

“I’m surprised they didn’t check us for weapons,” Laria said trying to keep up with the other two in the crowd.

“Look around, Kiddo,” Katie said as her eyes darted back and forth. “I don’t think a few more weapons would be noticed in this place.” Laria finally realized that every single adult around them was armed to the teeth with everything from disruptor pistols to ancient phaser rifles. One tall Nausicaan standing in the courtyard of what Laria assumed to be a local hotel, even had a fully automatic disruptor machine gun strapped across his chest.

“Yeah, this place is a little rough. I doubt the Romulan authorities do much to secure people who don’t have pointy ears,” Tigranian added.

After a few more blocks of winding streets, they emerged into a large square surrounding the former Colonial Administration Building, now Romulan Military Headquarters. It’s crumbling architecture was a monument to Cardassian bad taste in building design, but the Romulans had added a few quirks of their own…mostly tactical. The walls were now ringed with electrified razor-wire and anti-vehicular obstacles were spaced evenly around the perimeter. Four Romulans in desert combat fatigues and red sand goggles were lazily standing guard at the gate, their disruptor rifles slung across their chests. A large banner, with the blue and green bird of prey emblem, fluttered in the breeze behind them.

“The Raptor’s Claw is on the other side of the compound,” Tigranian said beckoning them to follow. “C’mon, I don’t like being here either.”

Behind the headquarters building was a large, walled compound with a fountain in it’s in courtyard. Two native Telaraks were drinking a pungent purple liquid from tiny ceramic cups and playing some sort of game involving dice, wooden markers, and carved, circular board. A large poster hung next to the building’s entrance depicting a smiling Romulan Soldier extending his hand to about a dozen different races huddled at his feet. The word for “peace” in each of their languages was written over their diminutive, bowing heads. Tigranian spit in the dirt when he saw that both humans and Klingons were among them.

“Is this the place?” Katie said skeptically.

“One way to find out…” Tigranian mused. The three of them passed through gate and across the courtyard, before entering a large airy room. A large stage with a concrete post was in the center of the club surrounded by plush couches. Romulan officers lounged on the couches while enjoying various intoxicating beverages from around the Alpha and Beta Quadrants. A long bar on the other side of the stage housed the non-Romulan patrons. Doing their best to prevent the officers from noticing them, they found an empty spot.

A meek Pheben approached from behind the bar and asked for their beverage choices. Katie and Laria declined, remembering their safety classes on non-certified interstellar eating and drinking establishments back at the Academy. Tigranian pulled a strip of gold-pressed latinum from his pocket and slammed it on the bar loud enough to make the Pheben jump.

“Wahlida Kheeru-Romulani, Anja.” Both Katie and Laria looked at Tigranian with surprise. The Pheben nodded causing the tentacles on his head to bounce. He quickly reached for a bottle of blue liquid and poured it into a glass. Before he could take a sip, a voice came from behind them.

“Your Orion is very good…for a human.” A heavy-set Orion male, his leather shirt and pants revealing far too much of his green skin, stood behind them. “You don’t meet very many of your race who can speak our language.”

“I’ve had dealings with your race, before,” Tigranian said calmly taking a sip of his Romulan Ale. “My name is…”

“William Oglesby,” the Orion Man said with a devious smile. “That would make you Ms. Appleton and Ms. Essa.”

“You apparently have me at a disadvantage, Sir,” Tigranian said through his poker face. “However, I also know that in your culture, if you speak to women under a man’s protection without a formal introduction, they cut your testicles off and shove them in your mouth…I ask you extend me the same courtesy.” He leaned back on the bar with his glass of ale just enough so that the Orion could see his disruptor.

“My apologies, Mr. Oglesby,” he said bowing down. “My name is Bolar, and this is my establishment.”

“Attan Aku-Bolar, Wali-Kiva Esha-lalu,” Tigranian said bowing forward and placing his right hand on his forehead. Bolar couldn’t help laughing.

“Absolutely wonderful! You have dealt with us before. I make it my business to know whoever gets landing permits on Telarak. Usually the more important players on this little moon find their way to The Raptor’s Claw eventually.”

“I’m not sure we fall into that category,” Katie said pulling Laria closer to her. She did not get a very good feeling from Mr. Bolar.

“Well, for two humans and a Bajoran to be this far from their homes, speaking to a humble Orion business owner in his own language, you must.” The three of them definitely didn’t like the way he completed that sentence. “Tell me, Mr. Oglesby, are you interested in buying or selling?”

“That depends on the merchandise…I’ve been burned before by the Hida Talme Oryan…”

Laria stood there, doing her best not to give the ruse away. Aghast, she wondered who this person was standing next to her going toe to toe with the bald green giant.

“And what makes you think this bar belongs to the Hida Talme?”

“Don’t insult me. You wouldn’t be here if you weren’t connected to the syndicate.” Tigranian slammed his empty glass on the bar and stared Bolar in the eyes. The green giant clapped loudly and the Pheben dutifully refilled the Romulan Ale to the brim.

“If you’ve been burned before, why do you come here now?”

“You don’t exactly file a customer service complaint against the Hida Talme…I’d be vaporized and these two would be in chains pouring kanar for some old, rich Cardassian pervert.” Laria grabbed Katie’s hand under her robe and squeezed. Katie squeezed back to reassure her she was safe.

“How much you know about us yet how little you respect us, Mr. Ogelsby. Why are you here?”

“I have a friend who’s looking for something very particular. I’ve heard I can get them in this bar…”

“And that is?”

“Breen plasma torpedoes.”

“Do you see any plasma torpedoes in this bar?” Bolar said with a laugh. “Maybe you should go ask the Breen.”

“Since the end of the war, it’s been a little hard to get them to cooperate with outsiders…especially of my species. However, I heard I might be able to help my friend courtesy of your local promagistrate…for the right amount of latinum, of course.”

“You have heard wrong, my human friend…Promagistrate Kival has nothing to do with it. If you have not been witnessed by either the Hida Talme or by Devek, then there is nothing I can do to help…except let you enjoy some free drinks…and fine entertainment.”

Bolar pointed to the corner where a much skinnier Orion male was leading a figure on a long chain draped in a black, sequined cloak to the stage. He pushed the figure down to the ground and fastened the chain to the concrete post. The Romulan officers on the couches began to clap and cheer. “I suggest that once the show is over, my friend, you go back to your shuttle and take your leave of Telarek….or else that scenario you spoke of earlier might become a reality,” Bolar said looking at Katie and Laria. He turned and took a seat on the couches next to the Romulans.

The figure in the black cloak slowly moved to a kneeling position. Sensually, she extended a green hand holding a pair of zills. She slowly began to hammer a beat on her finger cymbals faster and faster, causing the crowd’s excitement to reach a crescendo. Suddenly, she threw off her cloak and twisted to her feet as a drummer and flute player in the corner began to play in a loud, pulsing beat. The crowd was cheering so loud the walls were almost shaking.

The Orion woman’s long black curls were intricately braided down her back. Strategically placed leather bands barely covered her green body, and her eyes were so bright it was almost like they were made of fire gems. She rhythmically moved her body to the music, rotating and swaying towards the crowd, the chain just short enough to prevent her from touching them. She gently blew on her wrist towards the noses of the Romulans, keeping their attention focused on her hand.

“I thought Alex said Romulans were immune to Orion pheromones?” Laria whispered to Katie.

“Oh, Sweetheart,” Katie whispered back. “It’s not the pheromones that’s doing things to those men right now.” Laria and Katie looked down at Tigranian, who was watching the performance while nursing his Romulan Ale.

The Orion woman dropped back to her knees, and slowly bent over until her head almost touched the ground, swaying her arms to the rhythm of the music.

“Bill,” Katie said to Tigranian with no response.

“Bill!” Katie repeated more forcefully.

“William!” she shoved Tigranian in the shoulder, knocking him out of his trance.

“What?” he asked annoyed.

“Look,” Katie said pointing across the room. Promagistrate Kival walked in followed by a Cardassian in civilian clothes. Instantly, Bolar was on his feet and walked over to greet them. He gestured for the skinnier Orion man to come with him and they disappeared into a back room.

“C’mon,” Tigranian said shaking his head and placing his glass on the bar. “It’s showtime.”

The three of them stepped into the courtyard and down a passageway between two buildings.

“Will that thing work through stone walls?” Tigranian asked Laria.

“Like you said, Si…Bill, one way to find out.” They snuck behind the main building of The Raptor’s Claw. Laria took out a small rectangular box she attached to the top of a standard issue tricorder. She passed out three small earpieces which they placed inside their hoods. “Triangulating their position inside…and…got ‘em.” Suddenly, the voices of Kival, Bolar, and another man…presumably the Cardassian, began speaking.

“The Syndicate has signaled. They’re ready for the next shipment. The buyer is very anxious to receive the small-arms,” Bolar said.

“I’ve changed the location of the rendezvous point,” the Cardassian replied. The old one was too close to the Federation Zone. They’re getting suspicious. I will be leaving within the hour to meet your freighter in the Corvallia System.”

“Yes, there are two humans with a Bajoran in the bar right now asking questions. Don’t worry, they won’t be leaving Telarek alive. We placed a surprise on their shuttlecraft at the spaceport.”

“Guess, we’ll need to find another way off this moon…” Katie said trailing off.

“I thought you said that you would keep this operation safe from outside entanglements, Promagistrate,” the Cardassian said angrily.

“I said no such thing, Devek,” Kival said in reply. “My ten percent cut only gives you a protection in this sector. Anything that happens beyond that is your problem to deal with.”

“Corvallia is just across the border in the Klingon Zone,” Tigranian said. “We’ll be able to intercept them there.” Suddenly, they heard someone else whispering in the room.

“I just received word back from Syndicate. Apparently, the human male is named Daniel Tigranian, a Starfleet Captain, and pretend Klingon. The human female is Katherine Stone and the Bajoran girl is named Amira Laria also Starfleet officers.”

“It’s too risky to let them get back to their shuttle,” Kival interjected forcefully. “They could find the device and disarm it. Kill them here…now. Romulans can’t harm them. Ostensibly, we’re still allies.”

“I will have to confirm with my Kishra. It will be her decision.”

“Let her know that if she still wants to operate here, she will make one quickly.”

“Understood, Promagistrate.”

“Also, do it quietly. The legionnaires are supposed to keep the peace. Public executions are hard to explain.”

“I think that’s our cue to leave,” Tigranian said.

“You won’t get any argument from us.” Katie replied.

“Where will we go, Sir?” Laria asked nervously.

“Anywhere but here…”
Chapter 4 by captaintigranian
They slipped out of The Raptor Claw’s courtyard and into the streets, heading in the opposite direction of the spaceport. Somehow the buildings became even dirtier and dingier the farther they got away from Romulan Headquarters.

“How are we getting outta here?” Laria gasped.

“Don’t worry about that,” Tigranian said trying to sound reassuring. He took the tiny cylinder out of his pocket and pressed a button on the end. “Annabeth, is never gonna let me live this down…” he muttered.

“Right now, Sir, I would just be worried about living at all,” Katie replied.

Suddenly, Tigranian became noticeably tenser in his movements.

“Laria, how good are you with anti-nadion fields?”

“I read a paper on them once in high school, why?”

“Because we’re being followed…and it looks like you have about sixty seconds to become an expert.”

Laria quickly looked over her shoulder. In the crowd, she noticed a group of hooded figures about thirty meters behind them and keeping pace step for step.

“Prophets, Protect us,” she exclaimed pulling out her tricorder and furiously pushing buttons.

“Just stay calm, and follow me. Katie, put yourself between me and Laria.” He handed her the cylinder. “If they make a move, get her out of here. I’ll slow them down.”

“Not without you,” Katie replied angrily.

“That wasn’t a request, Lieutenant.”

“And I responded, not without you. You put yourself in this position, and your Security Chief is gonna make sure she gets her captain back safely…Sir.”

“If this was a Klingon mission, I would kill you right now.”

“Luckily for me, this isn’t a Klingon mission.”

The three of them rounded a corner and were confronted with and open courtyard. Its far gate was locked. “Go back!” Katie said, but it was too late.

Five large men blocked their path.

“How much longer, Laria?” Tigranian whispered over his shoulder.

“I don’t know”, she whispered back. “Keep them talking!”

“Talking? What are we gonna talk about? The weather?” Katie said indignantly.

Their adversaries pulled down their hoods and revealed themselves to be a collection of hired mercenaries: two Nausicaans, a Cardassian, a Gorn, and a Klingon. The Klingon carried a bat’leth over his shoulder. Tigranian instantly recognized the crest he wore on his chest.

“You were a bekk of the House of Duras? Funny, how they keep popping up in the strangest places…Guess, after Lursa and B’etor were killed at Veridian III, you had to find another way to pay the bills.”

“What know you of it, human?” the Klingon replied. Tigranian answered him in fluent Klingon.

“I know that you served an honorless group of ‘urwI Ha’DibaH! It was a privilege to send your kind to Gre’thor.”

The Klingon roared and raised his bat’leth to charge.

“No, Karnok!” A female voice screamed from behind them. “That would be too quick. I want them to see the face of their imminent deaths.” He stopped. The Nausicaans parted and the same black sequined cloak they had seen in The Raptor’s Claw stepped towards them. Bolar was right behind her.

“I wondered if you were the Kishra,” Tigranian mused as she dropped the hood of her cloak.

“Her? The Dancing Slave Girl!?” Katie exclaimed. Laria continued working behind them.

“Orion culture is quite interesting,” Tigranian said to Katie. “The men own the women, and the women own the men right back.”

“It’s quite easy to understand, Human. Bolar owns my body, but I own his soul…” She motioned for Bolar to step forward. “You pleased me today,” she said running her fingers across his lips, “I will reward you later,” she said with a seductive smile.

“Yes, my Kishra,” he said bowing his head respectfully.

“It’s too bad, we have to kill you all now,” she continued. “We found out the Hida Talme still has a reward on your head from your days as a Klingon pirate.”

“Funny, the Empire looks at it the other way around.”

“Unfortunately, it’s only for you alive…not dead.” Suddenly, he felt Laria tap on his back.

“Aww shucks,” Tigranian said sarcastically snapping his fingers.

“I do not know this word,” the Kishra said, “but I feel like you are mocking me.”

“Very good, Tiny Dancer.”

“Fine! Die now then!” She stepped behind her mercenaries who each raised a disruptor pistol. The away team took a deep breath…

“CLICK…CLICK…CLICK.” Nothing happened. The mercenaries stared down at their weapons in disbelief. Laria held up her tricorder from behind them. It was stuck in the “cycle” position.

“Dampening field,” she said. “It makes any particle weapon useless…Sorry,” she added shrugging her shoulders.

Karnok threw his disruptor to the ground, shattering it. With a scream, he hoisted his bat’leth and charged straight at Tigranian. With the calm of an experienced warrior, the captain side-stepped, grabbed Karnok’s wrists, and wrenched the bat’leth from his grip. With another turn of his upper body, the captain separated the Klingon’s head from his body. It fell to the ground next to his shattered pistol. Laria gasped and grabbed for Katie.

“GO!” Tigranian screamed as he charged straight at the mercenaries and swinging the sword. Katie grabbed Laria’s wrist and followed.

“KILL THEM!” the Kishra said diving out of the way. Tigranian managed to slash open one of the Nausicaans and Katie broke the Cardassian’s neck bones with a well-timed punch. After they cleared a path, they headed back for the street.

When they saw a crazed human carrying a bloody bat’leth followed by two equally dishelved women, the crowds on the street scattered in panic.

“Where do we go?” Katie said.

“We’ve got to get some place higher!” Tigranian quickly looked around and saw a three story apartment building a block away. “There!”

“Are you sure they’ve had enough time?”

“I hope so or this is gonna be the galaxy’s shortest escape attempt of all time.”

Suddenly, alarms started ringing through the streets.

“Civil Disturbance in Sector Bravo 2. All personnel immediately clear the streets.”

The crowds parted in preparation for the arrival of the Romulan riot troops. The three of them reached the apartment building. People were streaming inside but Tigranian raised his bat’leth and motioned for them to get out of the way. They immediately complied.

“Where are we going?” Laria asked.

“To the roof!” Katie replied.

They climbed the uneven stone steps for three flights before the trio final burst back into daylight. Before they could do anything else, they heard footsteps behind them.

“STOP!” The Kishra said holding up a strange looking pistol. Bolar, the surviving Nausicaan, the Gorn, and a very angry looking Cardassian in serious pain followed. Tigranian motioned for Katie and Laria to slowly back towards the edge of the roof.

“What have you got there?” Tigranian asked returning to his mocking tone. The Kishra got an irritated look on her face, pointed her weapon at the ground, and fired. A loud chemical explosion propelled a solid bullet straight into the roof. She pointed it back at them.

“Antiquated and crude…” she said angrily, “but effective even in a dampening field.” Tigranian realized he only had one (no pun intended) shot at this. He took a deep breath and thought to himself. “I hope you’re ready, Annabeth.”

“Any last words more poetic than ‘Awww Shucks,’ Human?” the Kishra asked.

“Heghlu’meH QaQ jajvam.”

She laughed.

“Today is a good die to die? Couldn’t you have thought of something a little less stereotypical?”

“Oh, I wasn’t talking about me…” Without warning, he slung his bat’leth straight at her. She gasped, looked down, and saw over a meter of baakonite sticking out of her chest. She dropped to her knees.

“NOOOOOOO!!!!!” Bolar screamed as she died. He leaped forward and ripped the pistol from her hand. Before he could aim, Tigranian slapped the communicator under his robe.

“Now, Pershing!” he shouted as he grabbed Katie and Laria by their collars and rolled backwards off the roof. Katie and Laria screamed as they went airborne. The surviving mercenaries rushed forward and looked over the edge…but no one had landed on the ground below….

In orbit, the three of them materialized mid-air in the Pershing’s transporter room. They dropped to the pad with a soft thud.

A very annoyed Lieutenant Commander Scharr stood behind the controls.

“You didn’t tell me you’d be moving, Sir. I almost lost the lock on you. Just be glad I’m so damn good at my job.”

“That’s why I picked you, Tren,” Tigranian said climbing to his feet and dusting himself off. He helped Laria up and looked her up and down.

“Are you alright?” he asked.

“We are fine…Sir.” Katie said from behind him.

“Bridge to transporter room, did you get them?” a very concerned Annabeth asked.

“We’re here, Commander. Remind me to promote you later for giving me that emergency transponder beacon.”

“Well, Sir, don’t celebrate yet. Those two warbirds in space dock are powering up and two others have de-cloaked. They’re using active tachyon beams to try to detect us through the cloak.”

“Get us out of here. Set course for the Corvallia System, Warp 9.”

“Corvallia?” she asked confused.

“Just do it!” He said heading for the doors. “We’ll meet you on the bridge as soon as we change.”
Chapter 5 by captaintigranian
A small Cardassian transport dropped out of warp barely a hundred kilometers from the Romulan/Klingon Zone Demarcation Line. The Monarch class freighter was already waiting for it.

“Are you ready to commence transport?” The Cardassian asked as soon as he was within range.

“Ready,” the freighter captain replied. Within ten seconds, over a hundred cases of surplus Cardassian Disruptor Rifles, Plasma Grenades, and ten photon torpedoes were located in the freighter’s hull.

“Transport Complete.” At that moment, the two ships detected a huge energy surge as the Pershing de-cloaked less than a thousand meters away.

“Unidentified Vessels,” Tigranian announced over subspace. “This the Federation Starship Pershing. You have committed a violation of Article X of the Treaty of Bajor: trafficking in illegal weapons. Shut down your engines and prepare to be boarded.” At that moment, both ships engaged their warp engines. The freighter headed for the nebula on the other side of the planetoid. Devek’s ship headed straight back for the Romulan Zone.

“Let him go,” Tigranian said referencing the freighter. “Small fish. I want this Devek. He’s the source.” The Pershing immediately prepared to cross the border after him, but before they could re-engage their cloak, six D’Deridex warbirds de-cloaked directly in their path.

“Sir, they’re raising shields and arming main disruptors,” Katie said from Tactical.

“Red Alert! Raise shields.” Annabeth said from her chair.

“Sir, the lead warbird is hailing,” Katie added.

“Put him onscreen…” Tigranian said through gritted teeth. Sure enough, it was Kival.

“Greetings, Captain, from your allies in the Romulan Empire! I am very happy to see this…spring thaw…between our peoples is being used so productively. I was unaware that the Federation had built its own heavy starship with a cloaking device.”

“It seems you’re unaware of many things, Promagistrate. Most notably the criminal who just crossed the border right behind you? Are you aware of your government’s stance on weapons smuggling? Maybe I should remind your superiors on Romulus.”

“Please, Captain,” Kival said rolling his eyes. “Remind my superiors all you wish. I would also like to remind your superiors that a Federation ship violating the Romulan Occupation Zone without formal authorization could be considered grounds for nullifying our obligation to the Treaty of Bajor!”

Tigranian leaned back in his chair.

“Yes, Promagistrate, you are correct.”

“I’m glad we understand each other. Oh, and Captain?”

“Yes?”

“Next time you visit The Raptor’s Claw, be sure you try the Kali-fal. It’s my personal favorite. Opens the sinuses.” The transmission terminated and all six Romulan vessels cloaked.

“We can’t get Devek today, but we can still get that freighter…”

“No, we can’t, Sir.” Phil said from the helm. “They made it to the nebula. We’d never be able to find them in there…”

“K’PEKT!” Tigranian said banging his hand into his armrest. Now, he had lost both ships. He started rubbing his eyes when a voice came from the science station.

“Sir?”

“What is it, Laria?”

“You know we have a supply of viridium buoys aboard for marking the edges of subspace anomalies?”

“That is very fascinating…thank you, Ensign.”

“I hope you don’t mind, but I took the liberty of beaming one into the freighter’s hold when the Cardassian ship activated its transporters….I can track it from two sectors away.”

Tigranian looked up at Laria with a look of amazement. She just smiled back.

* * * *

The freighter dropped out of warp in neutral space. This time, the Pershing didn’t waste any time. As soon as the cloak dropped, Katie had the ship in a tractor beam. It wasn’t going anywhere.

“Hailing frequencies open, Sir.”

“Orion Freighter, this is the Pershing. I’m only gonna say this once. Shut down your engines and prepare to be boarded? Do you understand?”

“They’re powering down their warp core, Sir,” Laria confirmed with a sensor scan. “Sir, I’m picking up three more ships dropping out of warp! Ferengi D’Kora Class Marauders.”

“Of course, the Ferengi are involved…” Tigranian muttered.

“The lead Marauder is hailing,” Katie said.

“Onscreen.”

The bulbous brown face of a Ferengi captain appeared.

“Federation Starship, I am DaiMon Glent of the Marauder, Latinum’s Shimmer! That freighter contains our cargo. Release it immediately!”

“DaiMon, you do realize that the Ferengi Alliance and the Federation are allies, right?”

“We are independent businessmen. This is neutral space, you have no jurisdiction here.”

“This ship is smuggling illegal weapons from Cardassia. I have every right under the Treaty of Bajor to seize it.”

“I said…release our cargo.”

“Sir, they’re raising shields and powering weapons,” Katie announced.

“Red Alert,” Annabeth said, not even sounding the least bit concerned.

“DaiMon,” Tigranian said turning his chair forward. “I have had a very bad day, and you are not the first person who has tried to kill me. Ms. Stone, would you care to give these ‘independent businessmen’ a small sample of what they’re up against?”

“Gladly, Sir.” Katie brought the phasers to life. Three quick blasts from their primary array slammed into the Ferengi ships.

“What are you doing!?” DaiMon Glent screamed in shock.

“Their shield generators are destroyed, Sir,” Katie said. “They’re defenseless.”

“Lock a quantum torpedo onto each of their warp cores!”

“You can’t do this!” Glent screamed in panic. “You are Federation!”

“The Federation’s getting a little inpatient with whiny little tyrants who think they can go around intimidating us because they view compassion as weakness, DaiMon. Now, are you going to play nice or should I tell my tactical officer to turn your ships into a debris field?”

The transmission cut off and the Ferengi Marauders disappeared into warp.
Chapter 6 by captaintigranian
Chin’Toka System: Federation Occupation Zone, Cardassian Space

Stardate: 52989.2

“Don’t get down on yourself, Dan,” Admiral Murphy said from Tigranian’s desktop monitor. “Starfleet Intelligence is ecstatic about your report. They think it will encourage Starfleet Command to open up a whole new anti-smuggling section.”

“The bad guy got away, Pete.”

“We’ve got plenty of time, Brother,” Murphy said reassuringly. “A new Cardassia won’t be built in a day.”

“It will take a lot longer with Kival as Promagistrate….”

“Romulans are fickle, Dan. He’ll fall out of favor sooner or later and then he’ll be disposed of. By the way, is this the Cardassian you saw on Telarek?” A picture appeared on Tigranian’s screen. It was a Cardassian Glinn in military uniform.

“Yeah, that’s him alright.”

“Glinn Devek, a rather unremarkable officer during the military government years and the war. He conveniently switched sides just as the hostilities were coming to a close to avoid being investigated as a collaborator. His name has appeared in more than one INTEL report. Apparently, he’s involved in more than his fair share of criminal activity in all three zones of occupation.”

“I want him, Pete. I want to take him down.”

“Don’t worry, Dan, you’ll get your chance. By the way, be sure you congratulate Laria for me on her promotion.”

“You got it.”

* * * *

Tigranian stepped through the doors of the Pershing’s port holodeck with his personal bat’leth over his shoulder. Instantly, he was transported to a dark Klingon cavern illuminated by torch-light.

“No! You must make the bat’leth an extension of your body! It must flow off your arm like water down a fall…”

He turned the corner to see the young Klingon Dahar Master, Koloth, teaching Laria basic bat’leth form. “Yes, better, better…” he said as she practiced a basic spin.

“I figured you’d be celebrating right now, Lieutenant Junior Grade Amira…”

Laria dropped her bat’leth to the ground as she spun around in surprise.

“Sir!” she said embarrassed.

“You!” Koloth said turning towards Tigranian. “This is a private lesson! Wait your turn.”

“Computer, Delete Koloth.” The Klingon disappeared as Laria picked up her sword.

“I was never much of a party girl, Sir,” she said. “The formal reception this afternoon in the mess hall was quite enough.”

“Still, didn’t expect to find you in here. This is where I go to relax…”

“Yeah,” she said brushing the hair behind her earring again. “I saw what you and Katie did down on Telarak and realized I wasn’t much help. I found this program and decided to try to learn some basic techniques.”

“It’s a good one. Had a friend design it to my personal specifications. I never got to meet the legendary Koloth while he was still alive, so I figured I’d make him a sparring partner. Kor and Kang are in here somewhere too,” he said looking around.

“It’s yours, Sir?”

“Laria, who else on this ship would have a Klingon hand to hand fighting program?”

“Right…stupid,” she muttered to herself.

“Hey, you’re doing it again,” he said walking over and gently taking her bat’leth. He placed it against the wall of the cave. “Your performance on the mission was spectacular. I never would have thought to use the viridium buoy as a tracking device. Not to mention your improvised dampening field. Can’t speak for, Katie, but I for one am very happy I wasn’t vaporized.” He paused. “I’m sorry, Laria…”

“For what, Sir?”

“For ever doubting you were the right person for this job.”

“Thank you, Sir.”

“You shouldn’t start with a bat’leth, by the way…”

“What?”

“You want to learn the basic forms with something lighter than a full sword to get your technique right. Computer,” he said holding his hand out to the side. “Klingon mek’leth,” he looked Laria up and down. “I’d say 46 centimeters long…exterior hand grip diameter of….ten centimeters, blade: composite baakonite.”

The weapon appeared in mid-air. He grabbed it and handed the short sword to Laria. “Try that.” She swung it back and forth a few times.

“Feels good.”

“Alright, slowly bring it back behind your shoulder…good. Now, come down in a fast strike towards my head.”

“What?”

“Trust me,” he said with a smile.

“I do trust you, Sir.” She swung the mek’leth down and Tigranian parried it with his own sword.

“Good! That’s the start…”

“I have a long way to go, Sir,” she said with a chuckle.

“Yes, but I’m here to teach you if you want to learn…and we’ve got plenty of time.”
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