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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.”

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