Star Trek: New Horizons Season 5, Episode 7 (Reckoning) by captaintigranian
Summary: As Tigranian feels the emptiness left by his wife's departure, Laria and Torlek undertake the most dangerous mission of their lives: the destruction of the House of Duras.
Categories: Expanded Universes Characters: None
Genre: Action/Adventure, Drama, Family, Romance
Warnings: Adult Language, Adult Situations, Character Death, Violence
Challenges: None
Series: Star Trek: New Horizons
Chapters: 7 Completed: Yes Word count: 10405 Read: 497 Published: 21 Jan 2018 Updated: 21 Jan 2018

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

7. Chapter 7 by captaintigranian

Chapter 1 by captaintigranian
Bolarus System: Federation Space

Stardate: 54452.2

"There's my baby boy!" Annabeth exclaimed as she looked at the terminal in her quarters. Alex held up Max towards the camera and waved his little hand. "Mama liebt dich so sehr!" He smiled as he heard Annabeth's voice through the subspace link.

"See," Alex whispered into Max's ear. "There she is. I told you we'd talk to Mama soon."

"I think he's gotten bigger since you left," Annabeth said as her heart melted. She just wanted to reach through the screen and hold her son.

"Beth, we've been gone just over a week."

"Still," Annabeth said. "I think he's gotten bigger!" She looked at the background around Alex. Her wife was sitting in the living room of her childhood apartment in Munich. She sighed when she saw her parent's old furniture that they had pulled out of storage. "How's the place?" Annabeth asked.

"Still got some cleaning to do," Alex replied. "Replicator repair man is coming Thursday. Some of the milk coming out of it smells a little funky."

"We probably need to redo that whole kitchen," Annabeth said.

"Yeah," Alex replied. "I don't think it's been updated in thirty years."

"I think you're right," Annabeth replied with a smile. "My last tenants were a little older. They didn't seem to mind."

"Well I do mind if I'm going to be living here," Alex grinned back on the screen. "How're things back on the Lady B?"

"Mercifully quiet," Annabeth said. "We're just making the rounds of the Federation and showing the colors. Kinzo is settling in nicely. I think Dan might actually like him."

"Shocking," Alex said bouncing Max on her knee. "I guess he doesn't hate doctors that much after all."

"I wouldn't go that far," Annabeth replied. "It might be a case by case kinda thing." She paused. "He's been going out of his mind since Laria has been gone."

"And he still hasn't heard from her?" Alex asked surpised.

"No," Annabeth said shaking her head. "Whatever the Klingons have her doing, it's on radio silence."

"I'd be going crazy too," Alex said with sigh. "It's even worse when you know how dangerous our job is."

"Magnify that by a hundred when Klingons are involved," Annabeth said rolling her eyes.

"Take care of him, alright?" Alex said. "He doesn't have a lot of people in this galaxy besides Laria and Torlek."

"I'm his first officer, and God help me, I think I'm his best friend. It's kinda my job," Annabeth said taking a sip of tea from a mug on her desk.

"Well, at least you're good at it," Alex said.

"I don't know about that," Annabeth replied. "I got Phil and Katie about to kill each other. The wedding's in two weeks and I'm still not sure they're gonna go through with it. Scharr is trying to take his mind off of home by driving the entire engineering section crazy, and I got a new Chief Medical Officer who's only spent two months of his career aboard starships. I kinda got a full plate."

"The last one is kind my fault," Alex said innocently pursing her lips. "You're welcome."

"He'll be alright," Annabeth said calmly. "When do you start reporting to the Academy?"

"Not for a couple of days," Alex replied. "Mom and Dad are beaming over tomorrow afternoon and then we're going to the Christmasmarkt downtown."

Annabeth waved her hands excitedly.

"Ok," she said furiously trying to explain things. "First things first, you have to get fresh Lebkuchenkekse and then go for the Gluhwein. They'll both warm you up, but don't get them together. It has to be in that order…"

"Beth," Alex said cutting her off. "How many times are you going to explain this?"

"As many times as it takes!" Annabeth said. "Christmas is a big deal in Germany!"

"I'm Canadian, not Vulcan," Alex replied rolling her eyes. "It's kind of a big deal there too."

"Babe," Annabeth said lowering her chin. "If you think Canadian Christmas is anywhere near German Christmas, you're wrong."

"Alright, alright," Alex said surrendering. "I believe you."

"And pictures! I want a million pictures!" Annabeth reiterated. "I want to see his little face light up when he sees the big Christmas tree!"

"Don't worry," Alex reassured her. "We'll overload the subspace bandwidth. My Dad is already tracking he's been dubbed the official event recorder and he's looking forward to it. We even got a new snowsuit today to wear tomorrow, didn't we?" Alex cooed at Max. His head bobbed a little and his eyes started to close. "It's getting kind late here," Alex said. "I probably need to get him ready for bed."

"Ok," Annabeth said holding her hand up to the screen. "Ich liebe dich, Kleiner Mann," she said to Max's image.

"And I love you too," Alex said holding up Max towards the subspace camera. She spoke from behind his back pretending to be him, "but I want you to speak in a language that mommy understands. I don't want to learn German."

"Lies!" Annabeth said laughing. "You want both mommies to speak German because that's the best language in the universe."

"Ok," Alex said putting Max back into her lap. "I probably do need to learn at least a little if I'm going to be living here."

"Only a little?" Annabeth cocking her head to the side.

"Fine, more than a little. Better his first words are in German than Klingon," Alex said shaking her head.

"Babe, you ain't kidding…" Annabeth muttered. "We'll just have to watch Dan when he talks to him."

"No Klingon yet!" Alex said looking at Max's sleepy face. "You hear me, Little Guy?" He relaxed and began to doze off in her arms. Annabeth smiled. She never realized how happy life could be until now.

****

Tigranian stood in front of his quarters' replicator and thumbed through the selections.

"Festive…" he muttered with a hint of derision. "We want festive…"

Finally, he settled on a hot toddy. It materialized in front of him and he stumbled to his couch. On his holoscreen, a high definition video of a fireplace crackled and popped. He sat down and took a long sip of bourbon and honey.

"Computer," he said as he grabbed Rijo, Laria's pugabeast, from a cushion and dropped the stuffed animal into his lap. "Current date and time on Earth."

"Specify calendar and time zone."

"Gregorian Calendar, Coordinated Universal Time…" Tigranian said taking another sip. He stared at the tiny, blinking Christmas tree on his coffee table.

"The current time at the Royal Observatory, Greenwich, United Kingdom, Earth is 2134 Hours, Tuesday, 20 December, 2377."

"Getting close…" Tigranian said. He didn't know what was wrong this year. Normally, the ancient holiday of Christmas passed without much fanfare in his life. He had just introduced Laria to it last year. To his great surprise, she loved it. Now, the fact that she wasn't here made it stick in his mind like a sharp needle. "Computer, play Christmas music."

I don't want a lot for Christmas.
There is just one thing I need.
I don't care about the presents
Underneath the Christmas tree.

I just want you for my own
More than you could ever know
Make my wish come true…
All I want for Christmas is you…

He wondered who had programed the Pershing's musical database. It had the uncanny ability to twist the emotional knife at the worst times. He thought about writing a sternly worded to the Caleb IV Shipyards, but instead settled for another stiff drink while holding Rijo slightly closer to his chest. He looked up at the bat'leth on his wall. Beneath it, were the two empty slots for Laria's mek'leths.

"At least I still have you…" he said looking down into the pugabeast's plastic eyes. "What do you say? Join me in a toast to Laria?" Rijo continued to look up at him. "No?" Tigranian asked. "Too bad."

He took another nip of hot toddy.

"Wherever you are, My Love," he whispered, "I hope you happy, I hope you are joyful, and I hope you are fighting with honor…Merry Christmas."

He continued to stare at the wall, dreaming of seeing those mek'leths back in their rightful place.
Chapter 2 by captaintigranian
Suchon System: Klingon Frontier

Laria rested on a metal bench under the dim, red lights of the Dri'goth's troop bay. It felt strange to be back aboard the ship she once commanded, but it gave her more hope that their mission would be successful. Torg, now a full captain in the KDF, walked over with a half-cocked smile on his face. She grinned back at him as she ran a laser sharpener over her mek'leths.

"It is good to see you again, Laria HoD," he said as he crossed his arms.

"I'm not the HoD, anymore, Torg," she replied as the laser sharpener sung over the baakonite edges of her blades. "You are."

"Once an honorable leader, always an honorable leader," he said before turning towards Torlek who was sharpening his own bat'leth. "We have entered the target system, Lord," he said with a bow. "We are making stealth approach: cloaked at one-half impulse."

"Good," Torlek replied. "Inform me once we achieved orbit of Suchon IV. We will prepare for the approach maneuver then."

The Dri'goth was a B'rel class scout vessel capable of making atmospheric approaches while cloaked. This was essential as the Duras had shielded their compound with transport inhibitors. Laria looked around the rest of the compartment as ten commandos prepped their weapons for the mission. They were bigger than any Klingons she had ever seen. One had biceps larger than her head. Several inserted rifle stocks into the backs of their disruptor pistols with an audible click. Some sharpened bat'leths while others packed plasma grenades and explosive charges onto the combat load carriers. Quickly, Laria realized there wasn't a single square centimeter of their black, combat armor that wasn't covered with some kind of destructive device. Each wore a bright red badge on their left arm.

"Who are they?" Laria asked Torlek. I've never seen that house crest before.

"They are not of a single house," Torlek replied, "but they might as well be. They are tlhIngan Qas le'chIch, 'Klingon Special Purpose Forces.' Their training regimen is so brutal, nearly ten percent do not survive. They are given funeral honors as if they died in battle.

Laria raised an eyebrow as Torlek continued.

"I once saw a QLC break a stone in half with his bare fist. (The way he pronounced QLC reminded Laria of the Federation Standard word 'click.') A century ago, the QLC would have been the ones to space jump to Earth from cloaked ships for a decapitation strike on the Federation government. Then, they would destroy as many UFP facilities as possible before falling in combat. Now, they go into battle with their Starfleet allies. Somewhat poetic," he mused.

"A decapitation strike?" Laria asked skeptically. "The Klingon Empire really thought that a few dozen commandos would be able to take down the most heavily fortified planet in the Alpha Quadrant? I don't care how much weight they can lift. They can't be that good." Torlek merely laughed.

"Their unit motto is 'qaStaHvISwa' ram loSSaD Hugh SIjlaHqetboghloD," he said. Laria looked at him confused. Her eyes asked for a translation. He answered, "four thousand throats may be cut in one night by a running man." Laria looked back to the QLC personnel. One strapped a bat'leth to his back and then picked up a twenty-five kilo heavy pulse disruptor like it was a hand phaser. She sucked in a deep breath as she realized that if anyone could make that violent aphorism a reality, it was the group in front of her.

She knew that she and Torlek would need their help. The plan was dangerously simple. Land on Suchon IV, enter the Duras compound, and then don't stop fighting till you get to Toral. The Romulan chip pulled off Drusilla indicated there were at least a hundred fighters inside the manor house. No matter what, a lot of people were going to die. Laria could only pray that they would be on the other side. It made her feel dirty.

The doors parted and the QaS DevwI' of the QLC, Trall, Son of Daxos, entered carrying a large tray. It immediately caught Laria's attention as it held twelve pewter shot glasses and a stone bowl. He walked over to a dark corner of the troop bay where a small statue of Kahless the Unforgettable stood on a shelf between two burning candles. The grizzled sergeant unfolded a piece of red silk and placed it on the shelf at Kahless' feet. Trall then arranged the glasses on the silk with the bowl in the middle.

He muttered something to Kahless in tlhIngan Hol under his breath as he lit two sticks of pungent incense. Then, he bowed and picked up one of the glasses. Trall downed its contents and placed the shooter upside down on the fabric. Finally, Trall dipped two of his fingers in the bowl. They came out covered in red paint. He drew two lines down his cheeks from his eyes to his chin. Then he went back to work preparing his weapons.

One at a time, the other QLC commandos followed suit, each placing their empty glasses at the foot of the Unforgettable. Laria watched in amazement. Finally, she turned to Torlek.

"What are they doing?" she asked confused.

"They are preparing for death," Torlek said placing his sword on the bench next to him. "They pray for an honourable end in service to their nation." He stood up, walked over to the statue, and picked up a shot. He drank it, prayed, bowed, and then dipped his hands into the blood red bowl. When he returned, his face was covered with the marks.

"And what are those?" Laria asked. "I've never seen Klingons do that before."

"They are called 'oy'naQ QIDpu'ghachmey noH," Torlek explained. "War Stripes. They are usually not necessary any more. It goes back to the ancient times when Klingons houses fought one another in melee battles. The stripes strike fear into enemies and help allies recognize each other in the fray." He paused. "They also will follow your soul into the afterlife to make it easier to find your companions in Sto'Vo'Kor. Many warriors will arrive at once."

Laria looked back towards the shrine and realized there was only one shot left. The QaS DevwI' had brought it for her. She walked over and stared at the statue.

"I won't pray for a good death," she whispered into the face of Kahless, "but I will pray for a good victory." She grabbed the drink and downed it in one gulp. It was blood wine and it burned all the way into her stomach. She slammed the empty shooter upside down on the red silk, dipped her fingers in the bowl, and painted her face. She wanted the Duras to know what side she was on. She also wanted them to be afraid.
Chapter 3 by captaintigranian
"Beginning Landing Maneuver," Torg said from the bridge. "Standby. Two minutes till touchdown. We will drop you on the edge of the compound and then make a high atmospheric climb into our holding pattern."

"Acknowledged," Torlek responded gripping his bat'leth and disruptor pistol. "Monitor the airspace and intercept any ships attempting to leave the system."

"jiyaj joH," Torg replied. The occupants of the troop bay grabbed the cargo straps bolted to the bulkheads to steady themselves in the dark compartment. Laria took a deep breath and she looked around one final time. Her armor was buckled tightly, her mek'leths strapped to her back, and she held a disruptor rifle in her hands. The Klingons were also ready for total war. They appeared to have no discomfort at the heavy weight of their armor and weapons. Their eyes were fixed to the landing ramp in front of them. Laria was terrified at the explosion of rage that was about to be released when that giant piece of tritanium dropped.

"Laria," Torlek said softly into her ear. His concern caught her attention. "When we land, do not hesitate. The most dangerous time will be as we exit the ship. The engines will not have a chance to cool down and we will run straight through the impulse exhaust. It will feel very hot, but do not worry. It is not enough to burn you. If you stop, you are at risk of being hit.

The Dri'goth will immediately take off again once we disembark. The rush of wind from the thrusters could knock you to the ground. Be ready for it. Get clear of the ship, find cover, and then begin to fight forward. We must get to Toral before he tries to escape. The Duras are intelligent and very lethal. It is why they have lasted as fugitives this long. Do not underestimate their abilities or you could meet Kahless tonight. Do you understand?"

Laria looked him in the eyes and responded with only a nod. Torlek took in a deep breath.

"Elessa is far better at this than I am," he began uncomfortably, "but if I had a daughter, I would want her to be just like you. I am so proud. Qapla', Daughter of Amira."

"Ten seconds!" Torg yelled through the intercom.

Laria did not let any trace of emotion cross her face. It was not the time. Instead, she looked him straight in the eyes. "May the Prophets be with us, Son of Ro'vagh. If you die, die well." Then, she looked back at the landing ramp. Her painted face was hard as steel. Torlek grinned as they felt the g-force push up from the deck as they neared the surface.

****

On the edge of the Duras compound, a sentry leaned on a low stone wall. He stared out at the dense jungles and fought to keep his eyes open. It was nearly midnight and nothing was happening. Nothing ever happened. A fellow guard approached and leaned his disruptor against the barricade. He reached into the pouch on his belt and produced a can of yivjebol. The first sentry's eyes opened wide as his friend offered him a pinch. They sat motionlessly for a few moments silently taking in the chirping insects and hooting animals that were the only other inhabitants of this desolate world. It was their lot in life to be vassals of a disgraced house, but it was a living. However, Toral's guards often spoke of the day they all dreamed of: when the House of Duras would be restored and they could take their rightful place as leaders in the Empire once again…

Suddenly, a gale force wind roared around them. Their unsecured weapons were flung away into the darkness. Dust and debris whipped around the block houses and blinded them. The first guard threw his arm over his face just in time to see two deep impressions thrust into the ground. A doorway opened from thin air and a group of QLC commandos appeared from nowhere. They charged forward and readied their weapons. The sentry instinctively pressed the communicator on his shoulder that triggered the perimeter alarm. Klaxons echoed across the entire compound. It was the last thing he would ever do as a hail of green disruptor blasts from the QLC cut him and his partner to ribbons…

****

Laria felt the Dri'goth's landing struts slam into solid ground.

"Touch down!" Torg screamed through the intercom. The massive troop ramp dropped open and crashed into the stone pavement. The QLC led by Qas'DevwI Trall sprinted out into to the night. The sharp crack of disruptor bolts echoed from the buildings. The shrill crying of alarm bells immediately followed. Laria could see two of Toral's guards cowering on the ground about twenty meters away. They didn't last long.

Torlek ran forward. The only thought going through her head was to stick close to him. If he could navigate the hellish chaos of this battle, she would too. At the foot of the ramp, a massive sensation of burning heat slamming into her face causing her entire body to tense. The traumatic memory of a childhood dinner where she fell too close to an open oven in her mother's kitchen suddenly flashed through her mind. She couldn't breathe, she couldn't think, she just wanted to drop to the ground and cover her exposed skin.

"No," her brain fought through the panic. "Torlek warned you about this. Run, damn you! Open your eyes and run!"

Somehow she willed her legs forward and soon the cool air of night surrounded her once more. As her eyes adjusted to the darkness, she saw a short stone wall about five meters ahead. She finally made out Torlek's armored back making a beeline towards it. He dropped, rolled, and was soon behind cover. Laria dipped low and dove next to him. Several QLC were already in position beside them and firing their disruptors at the buildings. To their right four more commandos reached up to their vests, pulled out plasma grenades, and heaved them forward with tremendous strength. A series of explosions rocked the courtyard and momentarily drowned out the alarms.

From behind them, a loud metallic clang signaled that the Dri'goth's ramp had resealed.

"Get your head down!" Torlek shouted to her as he placed his left arm in front of his eyes. A blast of hurricane wind laced with sand and debris whipped all around as the bird of prey climbed back into the air. It was yet another piece of the chaos and confusion contributing to her utter disorientation. No other fight in her life had prepared her for this experience.

As soon as the air cleared, she looked to her right just in time to see a Duras sentry charge out from a doorway towards one of the QLC pulse disruptor gunners. The enemy warrior screamed as he swung a bat'leth like a club straight at the gunner's neck. The QLC fighter dropped just low enough for the sword to pass cleanly over his head. With a war cry that shook the ground, he reached out one of his tremendous, paw-like hands and grabbed the shoulder of the Duras sentry. With animalistic fury, he drove his knee into the enemy warrior's chest. Laria could hear the sound of crunching bone from six meters away. As the poor soul gasped for air through his shattered torso, the QLC grabbed his throat with a Mok'bara grip and then slammed the sentry into the ground with enough force to shatter his thick skull like it was made of glass. Laria's eyes grew wide with horror as the gunner immediately grabbed his weapon and continued laying down suppressing fire.

A bright red, flash momentarily blinded her. Instantly, she could feel the air sizzle around her with an ionized charge. The hundreds of green blasts coming from her allies' weapons began bouncing off an invisible wall ten meters to their front. Waves of guardsmen poured out of the buildings ahead and began firing back. Their weapons were able to pass through the invisible barrier like it wasn't there. Two Duras guards ran up a flight of stairs with pulse disruptors and mounted their weapons to the railing of a second story balcony. Disruptor fire began raining down on the QLC positions from above.

"What is happening?" Torlek screamed towards Trall. Laria rolled onto her side and pulled a Federation tricorder from the pouch on her hip. She flipped it open and furiously conducted a scan as enemy disruptor bolts began to rapidly reduce the stone wall they were hiding behind into molten slag. Three QLC were immediately hit as they dove for other cover. They fell to the ground motionless.

"My Lord!" Trall shouted. "We must push forward. If we stay here, we will be cut down like rabid targ!"

"Wait!" Laria screamed in reply. "That is a Level 10 force field! Nothing we have can punch through it. It has as much energy as a live plasma conduit and it will roast the flesh off your bones like a blow torch."

Tortured screams to their right sounded the deaths of two more commandos. Only five of the original ten were left alive.

"We cannot retreat!" Trall yelled. "I will not be die shot in the back!"

"I'm not suggesting we do," Laria said quickly glancing over her shoulder. "I'm detecting a power flow regulator station just inside that building over there. "If I can get to it, I think I can bring the field down."

Torlek glanced over the wall just long enough to see what she was talking about. An open doorway eight meters to their left contained a control panel covered with blinking lights. However, with the amount of enemy fire, it might as well have been a kellicam away. In front of them, the courtyard filled with every sentry in the compound ready to watch the landing team be exterminated.

"Laria," Torlek replied desperately. "There is no way you can cross that gap. You'd be dead before you went two meters."

"Do you have a better idea? We're getting massacred!" she said sucking in a quick breath. "At least I'm half the size of you guys. Smaller target…"

"Qu'vatlh!" Torlek said slamming his fist into the stone wall. He could already feel the heat from the melting stones on the other side. "May Kahless guide your path! yIQan!" he shouted to order the remaining QLC to provide covering fire. Instantly, their disruptors fired as fast as they could towards the enemy on the other side of the forcefield. They couldn't penetrate, but at least they could try to blind their opponents.

"Oh Prophets!" Laria shouted as she sprung to her feet and charged towards the open door. Green blasts from the Duras disruptors steaked past her head and torso and sizzled in her ears. Time seemed to slow down as the pounding in her chest drowned out all other noise.

"I'm still alive. I'm still moving. I have to keep moving!" her brain screamed to her legs. When she was within three meters of the doorway, she pressed her feet into the ground and dove for the safety of the building. At the height of her leap, she heard another disruptor shoot by behind her. Suddenly, she felt lightning pass over the back of her right leg.

"AAHHHHH!" she shrieked as she slammed into the wooden floor next to the power control console. She gasped for air as searing, burning pain streaked up her body, through her hips and towards her chest. It was like somebody had injected battery acid into her veins. She rolled onto back and felt behind her thigh. An enemy shot had grazed her hamstring. It was brutally painful, but she was alive and could still move her appendage.

"Laria?" Torlek screamed. "Do you live? Are you alright!?"

"I'm alive!" Laria yelled back as tears began streaming down her cheeks. "But I'm hit! I don't know how bad it is."

"You have to get that force field down! Otherwise, we are all dead!" Torlek shouted back. She pulled off her belt and wrapped it around her upper thigh like a tourniquet. The pressure was excruciatingly painful, but at least she wouldn't bleed to death if an artery was hit.

She grabbed the sides of the console and pulled herself to her feet. Immediately, she began scanning the controls with her tricorder. Her vision blurred with agony, but she wiped her eyes clear and set to work. The station was encoded, but it wasn't as bad as she thought. With every ounce of resolve she had, she broke through the lock-out and accessed the power controls for the force field. She ordered the computer to terminate all compound defenses, and then uploaded a new security protocol. It was her own special code. They would still be trying to break through it by next year's Peldor Festival on Bajor. She also added another wrinkle which might come in handy as a surprise later. With her work done, she collapsed to the ground.

Outside in the courtyard, the field dropped. Trall roared in triumph.

"THEIR LIVES ARE OURS!" he screamed to his surviving warriors. "KILL THEM ALL!" One of the QLC commandos reached over to a comrade's back and grabbed a metal tube. She raised it to her shoulder, aimed it at the balcony with the enemy pulse disruptors, and pressed the trigger. A rocket streaked across the compound and blew the entire building into rubble. The rain of stone, bricks, and dust caused the assembled mass of sentries to dive for cover. It was the only opportunity the QLC needed. They surged forward with weapons blazing.

Another commando grabbed a pulse disruptor and braced the weapon against his hip. He threw an endless stream of green blasts back into the foolishly massed enemy. It was their turn to begin falling in droves. The other QLC ran straight into the fray with disruptors, blades, and fists. The hand to hand skills of the Duras were nothing compared to the elite of the KDF. A lone sentry foolishly tried to thrust his disruptor at Trall, but the huge Klingon sliced the weapon in two with his sword before doing the same to the hapless young man in front of him. On the floor of the control room, Laria attempted not to black out from the pain as she heard the futile screams of the guards outside.

Torlek ran in the door and grabbed her arm.

"Laria!" he shouted. "Laria, stay awake!" He looked down at her leg and saw the singed flesh. Trall ran inside next.

"My Lord," he said as the adrenaline of battle still surged through him, "they are withdrawing back into the main building. We have them on the run!"

"Tell your men to find Toral!" Torlek said. "However, she is wounded."

Trall dove down next to Laria and checked the gash on her leg.

"It is not too deep," he said trying to reassure her as she used every bit of mental energy she had left to fight back from the brink of unconsciousness. "Don't worry, My Lady, it is a clean wound and you will not lose the leg. Remain here, I will send the medics from the Dri'goth back for you as soon as we secure the complex."

"Hu'teghjay'!" Laria shouted as she grabbed her disruptor rifle. Her powerful expletive caused even Trall to jump a bit. She drove the buttplate of her disruptor into the floor and used the weapon to help her stand. The slightest bit of weight on her right leg caused her intense pain, but there was no way in Gre'thor's inferno that she was going to let the Klingons carry on without her. "These plaQta'pu' haven't killed me yet." With another set of deep breaths, she stood fully erect and shouted loud enough to echo off the walls.

"Laria, no one expects you to continue," Torlek said desperately shaking his head.

"Exactly, My Lord," she said glaring back at him, the red stripes on her cheeks now streaked with sweat and grime. "That is why I will," she said reaching up and grabbing the handles of her mek'leths. She pulled them free and held her blades at the ready. "Mahkcha," she said as she limped towards the door.

Torlek and Trall exchanged amazed looks.

"They will write many songs of this day," Trall said as he lips curled into a grin.

"And I will make sure they are sung," Torlek added.
Chapter 4 by captaintigranian
Altair System: Federation Space

A large bonfire crackled in the center of a stone platform. The tropical night sky twinkled above in an endless sea of black. The ancient stone ruins of a Klingon temple crumbled all around as vines, bushes, and trees slowly turned the once mighty Barrachkt Monastery back to wild jungle. At the edge of the firelight, the toppled statue of a warrior gazed eternally forward. A two-hundred kilo vIghro' cat rested on the Klingon's stone back with his paws planted firmly in front of him. The beast had its mouth open and let its tongue taste the air for its next meal. The flames sparkled across the hairy crest running along its back and the black stripes streaking its silver fur. In its glowing eyes, was the reflection of two fighters performing Mok'bara kata.

Tigranian and Katie, dressed in identical black gis, moved in perfect, silent unison. With their feet shoulder width apart, they slowly crouched down while extending their arms in front of them. When their palms reached chest height, they curled their fingers inward in a gesture reminiscent of the vIghro's claws. They crossed their wrists, raised their left foot off the ground, and then turned to their side. At the bottom of their crouch, they turned their palms outward, then punched forward with their right hand, followed by their left. Finally, they moved their right arms around their body to the crown of their heads with a large, circular motion. Then, they mirrored the motions to their other side. As the kata ended, they both took deep breaths and closed their eyes as they brought their hands back in front of their chest. The vIghro' roared from behind, apparently in approval.

"Alex isn't here to patch us up, anymore. There's no one here to stop things. Are you sure you're ready?" Tigranian said steadying himself on his feet.

Katie crouched low and held her claws in front of her.

"En'chA," she replied opening her eyes. Tigranian leapt towards her and threw out several punches as fast as he could. Katie threw up her arms in a series of blocks, each one attempting to gain a lock on the captain's exposed wrists. He rolled his torso from side to side to prevent her from gaining a grip on his limps. Suddenly, he threw a knee up from the ground and into her gut. Katie yelped with pain as Tigranian tried to follow up with another kick to her side. However, she managed to twist to the left and dodge his strike. With a yell, she curled her right hand into a fist and struck as hard as she could towards his head. Tigranian let the blow roll over his shoulder, grabbed her wrist and twisted his hips. Katie's chest was immediately exposed and Tigranian struck downward with a massive vIghro' claw strike right in the middle of her chest. She collapsed to the stone ground and coughed up a mass of blood.

The captain stared down into her eyes before raising his leg for a downward kick right into her face. Katie played opossum long enough for him to imbalance his stance. She kicked her legs out and trapped his lower limbs between her thighs. With a roll of her hips, Tigranian collapsed in a heap next to her. He tried to stand up, but a chop from Katie's hand landed directly on the bridge of his nose. He fell back down and momentarily clutched his shattered face in pain. They both climbed up to their feet and looked at each other in the burning fire light. Tigranian reached up, pinched one nostril closed, and blew a mix of blood and snot onto the ground next to him.

"That's gross," Katie said glancing down for a brief moment. Tigranian sneered as he ripped off his gi top and threw it aside. "For future reference, it's bad form to hit a girl in the tits, Sir."

"You said you wanted full contact," he replied as blood streamed down the sides of his face.

"And I meant it," Katie said ripping off her own shirt. Tigranian could see a massive bruise forming under her sports bra where his blow landed.

"SuH?" he asked taking in a few more labored breaths.

"jaH," Katie said with a nod. They charged at each other again raining large circular blows like animals attempting to maul each other.

She had grown up training for competition, but this was street Mok'bara. It was a fight meant to cripple opponents and see who could handle the most pain. Since her loss to Zhenia Scharr, she had wanted to broaden her fighting styles, and asked the captain to train her in Klingon martial arts. However, after several months, she told him she was tired of learning his pretty poses and meditative stances. She wanted him to start teaching her combat Klingon fighting: the stuff that turned a person into a living weapon. Tonight, she was getting a real lesson.

She threw a paw at the side of his head, but he ducked it and trapped her arm under his elbow. She attempted to break loose by throwing another strike with her left hand, but he was able to trap it as well. Tigranian pulled Katie into his chest and locked his palms together at the base of her spine. He leaned his full body weight down on top of her and she was trapped. The captain started striking with his knees into both sides of her chest and was literally beating the breath out of her body. She tried to scream, but all she could feel was pain and shattering bone.

In desperation, she flung her head like a mace and slammed her forehead into his bleeding nose. Tigranian nearly blacked out from the pain and his grip released. Katie dropped low to land a punch to his solar plexus, but he threw his arms wide and landed a double vIghro' claw strike to both sides of her head. She began to black out into unconsciousness. Tigranian raised another strike to finish her, but Katie suddenly threw an uppercut with all her remaining strength into his groin. Tigranian screamed with a high pitched yowl and collapsed to the ground holding his manhood. When Katie saw he was incapacitated she fell down next to him.

"I think I'm done, Sir…" she said laying on her back and staring up at sky.

"Me too…" Tigranian croaked while still shaking from the last attack. The vIghro' cat licked his lips and rose to a crouch expecting an easy dinner. Katie moved her head and stared at it.

"Don't even think about it, Skraal," she said as blood continued to drip from the corners of her mouth. "Go back to sleep."

The vIghro' growled, yawned, and rested its head on its massive forelegs.

"My nose is definitely broken," Tigranian said rolling onto his back as the pain finally began to subside in his nether regions.

"So are my ribs," Katie said laboring a bit to breathe. "I don't remember those knee strike things being a part of your instruction."

"I admit," he said trying to cock his head to prevent blood from his sinuses dripping down his throat. "I might have stolen that move from one of Scharr's Ushaan manuals." He took another deep breath. "You also said you wanted to talk tonight…Let's talk."

"Now?" Katie said as her broken body started to agonizingly stiffen.

"No time like the present," Tigranian replied still bleeding internally.

"I'm getting married in two weeks," Katie said dropping her head back to the stones. "And I'm freaking out about it."

"Don't you think Annabeth might be able to give you better advice?" Tigranian said. "After all, I've always been a groom and never a bride."

"A rule I've always lived by, Sir," she said, "is that I prefer to take advice from someone who can fight almost as good as me."

"Almost?" Tigranian replied.

"Take it as a compliment, Sir," she said. "That's the best you're gonna get."

"Ok," he said fighting to not pass out, "what are you freaking out about?"

"I don't know," Katie said, "Phil is a great guy…"

"I sense a 'but' coming…" Tigranian replied.

"But he's nothing like the man I thought I would marry," she said. "He puts on this cocky fighter pilot shtick to make people think he's a tough guy, but in reality, he's such a nerd."

Tigranian started laughing but the pain immediately caused him to clutch his shattered face.

"I'm serious, Sir," Katie said. "I don't know if I can spend the rest of my life talking about old television shows and the handling characteristics of ancient aircraft run by dinosaur juice."

"What would you be doing instead with the man of your dreams?"

"I never said Phil wasn't the main of my dreams," Katie muttered defensively.

"No, but you implied it," Tigranian continued. "Seriously, what would you rather be doing?"

"I don't know," Katie said still lying flat on her back, "hiking, surfing, swimming, planning workouts we want to do, watching shitty movies made for people with an eighth grade reading level, getting into fights like this…"

"Katie, no one should ever get in a fight like this…" Tigranian muttered.

"Sir…" she said cocking her head over to glare at him.

"Do you love him?" Tigranian said out of the blue.

"What?" she asked.

"It's a simple question, do you love him? Check 'yes' or 'no.'"

"Of course I love him," Katie said like it was obvious.

"Then you have your answer," Tigranian replied as if it was equally obvious. "Katie, a marriage is fun, but it is also a lot of work and constant compromise. Some days you get to go to the holodeck and fight a horde of space monsters with a bat'leth. Others, it's helping your wife edit her science paper on quantum varices inside the event horizons of black holes."

"Or watching your fiancée do an engine lube job on a MK XVI Spitfire from World War II…"

"Phil can do that?" Tigranian said raising his head enough to show a hint of surprise. "I had no idea he was so good with his hands."

"He is definitely talented in the manual manipulation department…" Katie replied. It was her turn to laugh, but she immediately grasped her ribs and writhed with pain. "And he never seems to lose patience when I can't decide what to eat for dinner…"

"An important skill," Tigranian said.

"How do you handle it, Sir?" Katie finally asked.

"Handle what?"

"Handle when the person you love just seems so far away at times, but you still want to drop everything and be with them? Even if it means putting yourself in a position you're scared to be in."

"I go to the holodeck and fight one of my other officers," Tigranian replied. His senses had been driving him crazy all night. Somehow, he knew Laria was in danger, but there was nothing he could do to help. It was a nightmare. "Sometimes, you just have to tell yourself that your needs come second, and you have to let them do what they must whether it's their job, their family obligations, or just plain what they want."

"That can't be easy," Katie muttered.

"It's not…" Tigranian replied. "But it's the price we pay for being with the person we were meant to be with." Suddenly, Tigranian looked very concerned. "I just lost feeling in my legs…" he said.

"Yeah," Katie said. "I can't feel my fingertips either."

"Computer, activate intercom." Tigranian said towards the sky. "Tigranian to Doctor Katan."

"Katan here, Sir. Is everything alright?"

"Not really, Kinzo," Tigranian replied. "Medical Emergency on Holodeck One. Bring two stretchers. There's no way we're walking out of here."

There was a pause on the other end.

"I'm on my way…" Katan said. Tigranian could hear the man rolling his eyes from three decks away.
Chapter 5 by captaintigranian
Suchon System: Klingon Frontier

Torlek and Trall ran up to the QLC already stacked outside the main entrance to Toral's house. Laria limped up behind them.

"Situation?" Trall asked his assistant Qas DevwI', a woman named Sharkana.

"Most of the veQ escaped inside," she said grasping her disruptor. "We don't believe Toral has fled, but there are at least seventy warriors beyond these doors and our power packs are almost drained."

"Since when has that ever stopped a Klingon?" Laria asked. Trall and Sharkana glanced at each other before looking back at the Bajoran.

"Are you really that anxious to die today?" Sharkana said to Laria. She looked over to Torlek and then back at the QLC.

"Heghlu'meH QaQ jajvam," Laria replied. Torlek smiled with approval.

"Very well," Trall chuckled to her. "I would be honored to share a blood wine with Laria, Daughter of Amira at Kahless' table tonight. Sergeant Sharkana!" he shouted.

His assistant signaled for another QLC to approach with an explosive breaching charge. The commando fastened the device to the outside of the wooden doors and set the detonator. The seven remaining warriors braced against the outside wall. Torlek nodded to Trall who held up his fist to the team.

"wa'…cha'…wej…baH!" he shouted. The explosive blasted the colossal wooden door from its hinges and sent it careening into the manor. The seven warriors charged forward. As soon as they cleared the smoky hazy of the explosion, they stopped cold. Inside was a foyer with a wraparound balcony. A few meters in front of them, a stone staircase led up to a second story hallway. Every centimeter of space was packed with one of Duras' warriors. They simultaneously raised their disruptor rifles which all sounded with an ominous "CLICK."

"Well, that didn't work…" Sharkana muttered. Trall actually reared his head back and roared with laughter.

"I'm glad you fools find this funny," a voice sounded from the top of the steps. A few of the warriors parted to reveal a short Klingon with a wiry mustache. His armor was different than the others. His fur undershirt was red and he wore a chain mail and leather sash with the House of Duras' crest.

"Toral, Son of Duras," Torlek said staring up at the traitor. "We meet at last."

"And it couldn't be under better circumstances," Toral said with a grin as he crossed his arms in front of him. "Five QLC warriors, the Governor of Ty'Gokor, and the alien bitch who murdered my mother….Do I even need to go through the labor of demanding your surrender, or should we just begin the humiliating torture now?" He looked over to Laria, "And you…you little be'voqHa'moH…I have something special planned for you. Tell me, how loudly does a little Bajoran girl scream when she's skinned alive?"

Torlek stepped forward with a scowl on his face. He angrily threw his disruptor to the ground so hard it shattered in five pieces. He then reached up and pulled the sword from his back. The bat'leth shimmered in the orange, flickering light.

"Take one step towards her, and it will be your last," he replied. The other warriors standing next to him all threw down their particle weapons and drew their blades as well. "I have orders to try to take you alive, but I've never been so willing to disobey."

It was Toral's turn to laugh.

"Such defiance!" he said gripping his sides. "It would be noble if it weren't so pathetic. There's seven of you versus an army of my men! What chance do you have?"

Torlek turned the bat'leth in his hand to reveal the dedication inscription on the inner blade. Laria recognized the pIqaD only because it was a Klingon proverb that Daniel used frequently. Now, she knew where he got it:

"reH'ebtu'lu'"

"There is always a chance"

Laria looked up towards the ceiling of the foyer and saw exactly what she hoped to see. A smile crossed her face as she knew it was time for her surprise.

"You know what's really funny?" Laria shouted up at Toral. "The last name your mother ever got called before I threw a dagger through her heart was a 'moQDu' sucker.' However, I don't think that was entirely accurate," she said cocking her head to one side. "She was also a 'Cousin Qu'vatlhwI'' You tell me, Toral," she said imitating his earlier threat. "Do you even have a loDjan or does an inbred little forshak like you have to piss sitting down?"

The other six warriors turned to Laria as their jaws dropped. Several of Toral's own men had to fight back laughter. At the top of the stairs, Toral shook with utter rage.

"BY THE TIME I AM DONE WITH YOU, YOU WILL BEG FOR DEATH!" he shrieked.

"Not this time," Laria said shaking her head. "You see, I'm not only the alien bitch who murdered your mother…I'm also a scientist."

Laria reached down and pressed a button on her tricorder.

"Only a fool fights in a burning house…"

The code she embedded in the compound's computer system activated the building's fire suppression system. Minus 150 degree halon gas poured from nozzles in the ceiling directly onto Toral's men. It sucked the oxygen out of their lungs and instantly frostbit any exposed flesh. They shrieked with surprise and pain. Toral himself started choking and gagging. His viceroy standing a few paces behind grabbed him and pulled him towards a rear exit.

"My lord!" the ghIntaq screamed to Toral. "We must leave now or you'll end up like your aunts!" The pair bolted down a hallway.

"He's getting away!" Torlek shouted. "HIv!" The mighty seven charged forward swinging bat'leths, mek'leths, and d'k tahgs. Arms, legs, and torsos went flying in all directions as Torlek, Laria, and their QLC companions sliced through the crowd in front of them like a scythe through quadrotriticale. A few of the Duras were foolish enough to throw down their weapons in surrender. They fell even faster.

Torlek led the way up the staircase swinging his bat'leth like Fek'lhr's battle axe. So many enemy heads clattered down the stone steps it sounded like the beating of drums. Laria was right behind, limping with every step, but still using her mek'leths to slash at any attacker who managed to dodge Torlek's punishing blows. She gazed up at her brother-in-law and for a brief moment allowed herself to marvel at the sight. He was like a massive rock fighting against an angry sea. His matted hair, dripping with sweat, swung around his head like angry snakes. His armor glistened with the blood of his enemies as he roared like a sabre bear ripping its prey to shreds. Torlek looked like a hero straight of out of ancient myth and legend. No matter how many bewildered and frightened foes charged him at once, he cut them down like chaff.

"My Lord!" Trall shouted from behind Laria. "Go! Get the traitor! We will hold them off!"

Trall, Sharkana, and two other QLC rushed passed Torlek and started carving a path. A lone warrior protected their rear. Torlek grabbed Laria, lifted her off the ground, and plowed through the enemies towards the doorway at the top of the stairs. He sprinted down a hallway and emerged at the rear of the manor house. A rooftop shuttle pad housed a small orbital craft that Toral's viceroy was prepping for takeoff. Toral himself stood at the base of the ship's ramp screaming for him to hurry up. He was twenty meters away, well out of range of Torlek's sword.

"TRAITOR!" Torlek shouted loud enough to be heard in Gre'thor. He was breathing so hard, he could barely stand. "Come and face me! You were too much of a bIHnuch to die with your men, but now look upon your executioners!"

Toral spun around and leered at Torlek. When he saw him, the Son of Duras drew a disruptor pistol from his belt and fired. Laria's eyes grew wide as she saw the green blast flying directly at Torlek's heart. The old man tried to move but his tired legs couldn't evade fast enough. The world slowed down for Laria as she watched the scene as if outside her body. Instinct once again gripped her and she lunged forward. She tackled Torlek and pushed him to the ground as the disruptor blast came so close to her head, it singed the hair on the back of her neck. They collapsed to the ground together.

She looked up to see a snarling Toral turn towards the shuttle. His ghIntaq had already initiated the flight sequence and the ramp started to rise. She realized that they were about to lose him and her disruptor was gone. Laria pushed herself off Torlek, grasped a mek'leth in her right hand, and uttered a prayer.

"Guide my blade…"

She heaved her weapon as hard as she could. It arched high, spinning end over end, and buried itself in the traitor's back. He squealed as he collapsed to the ground. The shuttle ramp closed, and the viceroy lifted off without his lord. The blast of its thrusters rushed over Laria as the ship climbed towards orbit, but she smiled as she knew the Dri'goth was waiting for him.

Laria turned around and rushed to Torlek's side.

"Torlek!" she shouted shaking him. "Torlek!" He groaned as he pushed himself upright.

"Did he get away?" the old Klingon said regretfully.

"Not quite," Laria replied looking towards Toral. The traitor was still alive, flapping like a dying fish. Torlek's lip curled and he climbed to his feet. He march over and knelt down at the side of the Son of Duras. Torlek began to reach for the handle of her mek'leth sticking out of Toral's back.

"What are you doing?" Laria asked painfully stumbling up beside him.

"What the Son of Mogh should have done a decade ago…"

Laria shut her eyes and looked away. Toral screamed as Torlek sliced open his chest and cut out his beating heart. When the Dri'goth returned after dispatching the viceroy, the Son of Ro'vagh placed the organ in a stasis container for the trip back to Qo'noS. Chancellor Martok wanted it for his dinner table.
Chapter 6 by captaintigranian
Great Hall, First City: Qo'noS

Thirty-Six Hours Later

Laria leaned on a cane outside of the High Council chambers. Elessa continued to dote on her much to her chagrin. What the Klingons called 'doctors' had at least prevented her leg from getting any worse, but she definitely looked forward to seeing a Starfleet sickbay again. Torlek brooded outside the large wooden doors to the Klingon Upper House of Lords. Martok had convened a special joint session of the High Council as soon as they made their final report via subspace. The result of the legislative body's deliberations infuriated Torlek. The Klingon warrior's grey dress stole whipped back and forth along the floor as he paced.

"This is an outrage!" he grumbled for the hundredth time.

"No, it's not," Laria said furrowing her brow.

"They can't do this!" he muttered.

"Yes, they can," Elessa chided. "They are the High Council."

"I didn't do anything!" he replied.

"Yes, you did," Laria said. "I was there."

"You were the one who deactivated the force field, you were the one who hacked the fire suppression system, and you were the one who put a blade in the traitor's back. Not to mention, to my everlasting shame, a Tigranian has now saved my life TWICE," he said as if the words tasted bitter. "It should be you."

Laria shook her head.

"I wasn't the one who fought their way up those steps and I wasn't the one who delivered the killing blow. I wouldn't have even been there at the end if you hadn't carried me like a sack of Zilm'kach," she said using her cane to tap her bum leg. "Besides, the Klingon Empire is willing to tolerate an alien being a lot of things these days, but not this. Accept it for me."

"Very well," Torlek snarled. "But I don't have to like it."

Elessa rubbed her eyes.

"However," Laria said, "There is one thing I ask."

"Anything," Torlek replied.

"As soon as this is over, put me on your fastest ship to the Federation. We're up against the clock here."

Torlek knew enough about his brother's culture to understand.

"As you wish," he said with a grin.

"Oh, Laria," Elessa said. "I've baked a few rokeg blood pies for you and Daniel. Do you mind taking them with you?"

"It would be my honor, Your Lady," she said. Elessa chuckled.

The doors to the Council Chamber opened and M'ert, the High Council's adjutant, appeared.

"Lord Torlek," he said with a bow of his head. "The Council is ready. I will announce you."

Torlek nodded and walked inside the chambers. The councilors stood at rigid attention along the sides of the hall. Martok stood on his dais with his arms crossed at the head of the assembly. His one eye glared at Torlek.

"Presenting Lord Torlek, Son of Ro'vagh," Me'rt shouted to the assembly. "Governor of Ty'Gokor, Chief of Staff of the Defense Forces."

"Lord Torlek!" Martok's voice boomed through the silent chamber. "Come forward!"

As Torlek marched towards the Chancellor's seat, Elessa led Laria inside. They silently slipped towards one of the side galleries to watch the proceedings.

Torlek stopped at Martok's feet and saluted with a fist over his heart. Martok returned the gesture.

"Kneel," the Chancellor ordered. Torlek obeyed and dropped to one knee, his eyes on the rough-cut stones of the floor.

"Lord Torlek," Martok began. "Under your leadership, seven warriors stood against one hundred enemies of the Klingon Empire on Suchon IV…and won total victory. By all accounts, you fought with poetic and pure valor: worthy of story and song. For a thousand turns, all will tell the tale of your triumphs and praise your courage. Fathers and mothers will teach their sons and daughters using your example. You truly have the heart of Kahless the Unforgettable beating within your chest.

Therefore, on behalf of all Klingon Peoples, by special vote of their High Council and ascent of their Chancellor, we grant you immortality."

An aide stepped forward carrying a red pillow. On it was a neck order: a black marble ball supported by a chain forged from golden blades. Martok lifted the medallion, stepped forward and placed it over Torlek's head. The Chancellor stepped back onto his dais and gazed down at his Chief of Staff. "Rise and be recognized, Torlek, Son of Ro'vagh: Dahar Master of the Klingon Empire."

Torlek rose to his feet and the chamber shouted in unison:

"HAIL TORLEK, THE DAHAR MASTER! HAIL TORLEK, THE IMMORTAL!"
Chapter 7 by captaintigranian
Andoria: Federation Space

Tigranian sauntered over to his replicator and began mindlessly searching through the menu again. The fire was back on the holoscreen. He was still pretty sore from his fight with Katie, but Doctor Katan had managed to fix all of the major damage and repair his nose.

"Oooo," Tigranian said staring at the screen. "Hot buttered rum…" Tigranian grabbed his drink and went back to the couch. He was in a reasonably good mood. At least he managed to get Scharr out of the engine room and to his home for a few days before the Pershing left the system. At least one member of the crew would get to spend Christmas with their family, even if Andorians didn't actually celebrate Christmas. Katie was in higher spirits and Tigranian and Annabeth had convinced Phil to spend the holiday with Katie hiking the holographic Swiss Alps.

"Computer," he said once again grabbing Rijo for company. "Current date and time on Earth."

"Specify calendar and time zone."

Tigranian rolled his eyes.

"Gregorian Calendar, Coordinated Universal Time…same as always."

"The current time at the Royal Observatory, Greenwich, United Kingdom, Earth is 0000 Hours, Sunday, 25 December, 2377."

Tigranian smiled.

"Midnight," he said taking a sip of rum punch. "Merry Christmas," he said raising his glass towards the wedding portrait hanging on the wall. "I love you, wherever you are."

The doorbell chimed. He furrowed his brow as he wondered who could be bothering him at this time of night. He pushed off the couch and walked to the front of his quarters. The captain forgot he was still holding Rijo. The doorbell chimed again.

"Hold on!" he shouted. "I'm coming."

He pressed the button and the panels parted. He froze.

Laria stood there with a giant grin on her face, one of her arms balancing four rokeg blood pies wrapped in metal foil.

"Merry Christmas," she said looking him in the eyes. Without a word, he wrapped her up in his arms and kissed her. They stood there for a few moments before Tigranian clandestinely raised Rijo next to her face.

"Rijo!" she said pulling back surprised.

"Merry Christmas. I love you…snort, snort," Tigranian said in a silly voice.

"Come here you," she said as she grabbed her pugabeast and hobbled inside their quarters while leaning on her cane.

"What happened!?" Tigranian said in shock.

"Don't worry, just a little misunderstanding. I'm gonna go to sickbay in the morning and get it fully healed."

"Someone hobbled you and you couldn't call once?" Tigranian said crossing his arms.

"Eh, I was a little busy," she said dismissively while putting the blood pies on the side board. She mounted her mek'leths on the wall, threw her bag on the couch, and plopped down in a heap. Tigranian rolled his eyes before sitting down next to her "Hey you," she said before planting a peck on his cheek. He pulled her close.

"I'm just glad you're home, and your timing couldn't be better," he said as she rested her head on his shoulder.

"I can work magic sometimes," she smirked. "By the way, Torlek and Elessa send their love…and pie."

"Both are appreciated," he chuckled. "How was the trip? Did you get to the bottom of things?"

"Yeah, we took care of it," she replied innocently.

"Any issues?" he asked.

"Nothing major, I'll tell you about it tomorrow," she said with a yawn. "Right now, I just want to lie here for a while."

"Ok," Tigranian said kissing the top of her forehead. He looked over to the wall, saw all their blades back in their proper places, and smiled as he realized all was right with the galaxy.
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