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Tigranian's first few weeks aboard the Halcyon continued much the same as his first encounter. No matter how hard he worked to prove his competence, everyone still viewed him as a potential enemy insurgent. However, he refused to renounce his Klingon family or beliefs. He was no longer with them, but still bound by blood and sacrifice.

Now, the only times he felt truly happy were his early morning training sessions. It was then he felt the strongest connection to his old mentor and friend. Tigranian prayed to Kahless that through some miracle, the Federation and the Empire would make peace and he would be able to see Torlek again.

Most of the ship was still asleep when Tigranian exited the holodeck doors. He was drenched in sweat and carried his bat'leth over his right shoulder. Normally, he would have headed straight for his quarters, but this morning he decided to make a quick stop at the mess hall. Those replicators did a better job at making his raktajino than the one in his quarters; probably because the replicator in his quarters hadn't been replaced since the Halcyon's last spacedock refit twenty years prior. He definitely felt like he owed Commander Harshbough that debt of gratitude for ensuring his room assignment was the worst one available.

In any case, the mess hall was still deserted when he stepped inside. He knew he could stomach rubbery eggs alone in his room as long as he had a decent cup of coffee to wash them down. As his mug materialized containing one of the few real pleasures in his life, he heard the doors behind him open.

"Well look what we have here, gents," came a familiar voice from behind him. "It's our resident gagh eater." Tigranian turned around to see Commander Harshbough accompanied by Lieutenant Commander Emmett Olsen, the chief engineer, and Lieutenant Lilia Tavin, the science officer. "Getting some breakfast, are we?" Olsen continued. "How does the saying go on Qo'nos? The early bird eats the worm?"

Tigranian turned around while taking a very long sip of his coffee.

"It is definitely too damn early for this," he thought angrily to himself.

"Actually, Emmett," Tigranian said doing his best to sound congenial, "I never eat replicated gagh. It's always best when served live."

"Well, you would know, wouldn't you?" Harshbough said walking towards him with the other two in tow. "So, you like to play with that thing do you?" he muttered while pointing to Tigranian's bat'leth.

"It's not a toy, Sir," Tigranian replied. "In the right hands, it's more dangerous than a phaser."

The other three laughed out loud.

"You can't be serious?" Tavin said. "That thing looks like a piece of deck plating someone hammered into the shape of fishing hook."

"Sounds like you need a lesson on what a phaser can really do, Tigranian," Harshbough said crossing his arms in front of him.

Tigranian smiled and looked down into his mug. He downed the rest of his raktajino in one gulp.

"Damn, that's a good replication." Without another word Tigranian tossed the empty aluminum mug into the air directly in front of the other's faces. He took a mighty swing with his bat'leth, so close to Harshbough's head, the rush of air caused the first officer's hair to move. The three froze in shock as two perfect halves of mug landed at their feet.

"A great man once told me, Sir," Tigranian said still grinning, "It's not the weapon, but the warrior that wields it." He walked past his peers and headed to the doors.

As he was about to head out back out to the corridor, he heard Harshbough's voice call after him. "Who was that supposedly 'great man', Tigranian?"

Tigranian looked back over his shoulder and answered:

"His name is Torlek and he's my brother." He then disappeared out the mess hall's doors.

"He might be Klingon lover, Sir," Olsen said finally letting himself breathe. "But maybe we should reconsider being on his bad side?"

"You know, Emmett, I'm starting to agree with you," Harshbough replied.

* * * *

"No, no, no," an exasperated Scharr said holding up his hand. "I just don't buy it anymore, Sir."

"What don't you buy, Tren?" Tigranian said looking over to his chief engineer's exasperated face. "That I could ever be so unloved by my fellow officers?"

"No, I actually think that's the most believable part of the story," the Andorian said as his antenna straightened. Even T'les showed signs of being amused by that cutting remark. "I just don't believe that you could earn a medal for heroism. How could fight for people who cared for you so little?"

Tigranian just leaned back in his chair.

"Things slowly began to thaw between me and rest of the Halcyon's crew over the next few months. I like to think they slowly started to respect my convictions, but I know it's because of two other reasons…"

"And those were?" Alex asked curiously.

"The most important was that Gowron re-signed the Khitomer Accords. Overnight, the Klingon Empire and the Federation were allies again. Klingon martial prowess was suddenly seen as a major benefit rather than a threat."

"And the second reason?" Phil said continuing to press Tigranian.

"The Federation suddenly had a much more dangerous enemy on its doorstep."

"The Dominion moved into Cardassian territory…" Annabeth said. Tigranian nodded before taking a deep breath.

"That changed everything. The reports coming out of Bajoran Space were bad enough before, but after the Jem'Hadar moved into the Demilitarized Zone and Cardassia began re-arming, war seemed inevitable. The Halcyon was transferred to the Ninth Fleet and we began a regular patrol along the Badlands…"


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