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Chancellor's Study, Great Hall: First City, Qo'nos

Stardate: 53322.9

Torlek stood in the entranceway to Martok's study. He was surrounded by a half-dozen marble statues representing the six chancellors who ruled the Empire prior to Martok's ascension: Azetbur, Kaarg, Ditagh, Kravokh, K'mpec, and finally Gowron. The commissioning of the statues was the new chancellor's contribution to the rebuilding of the Great Hall following Morjod's failed coup last year.

The general took special notice of the figure of Gowron, standing with his arms crossed, stone eyes angrily protruding from his face. This previous chancellor's downfall at the hands of the Son of Mogh had become part of Martok's legend.

Many outsiders wonder how Klingon politics function. Torlek even had to explain it to Daniel one evening over a bottle of blood wine. Just because you kill your predecessor to gain power, does not mean you do not respect them enough to build a monument to them, if for anything else to remind you of what led to their downfall. To Klingons, violent death in support of ones ideals is preferable to any other. In many ways, Worf did Gowron a favor.

The doors at the rear of the study flew open and Martok walked inside. He quickly crossed to his massive wooden desk and took a seat. Two bodyguards from the Yan-Isleth followed and took their places to either side of Martok's chair. Behind them, three massive windows looked out at the green-tinged skyline of the First City. Torlek walked past the chancellor's conference table littered with maps and reports from all over the Empire and stood at attention in front of Martok. He then offered a salute.

"Glory to you and your house, Chancellor."

"The same to you, General," Martok said returning his respectful gesture. "Please, take a seat. I regret my tardiness. My minister of internal security was briefing me on some late breaking developments in the First City."

"Yes, Chancellor," Torlek said lowering himself into a targ-leather upholstered chair. "I passed the large protest occurring in the Market District on my way here. However, it appeared that Imperial Guard was relishing the opportunity to disperse it with clubs and concussion grenades." The distasteful tone in Torlek's voice piqued Martok's interest.

"I read your reports on your actions at Senath and was quite impressed with the Suk'Valt's performance. You certainly won the Empire the rapid victory it required. You have my gratitude."

"The job is not finished yet, Chancellor. There are still insurgent positions in the mountains, but the loss of many of their weapons caches has greatly diminished their supply lines. The Cardassian Provisional Guard should be able to continue our efforts."

"Yes, I know," Martok said examining a PADD in front of him. He slowly placed it back down on the table and looked at Torlek with his one eye. "I heard about the loss of the Son of Tigranian."

"My brother is in paradise, Chancellor. He died in service of the Federation and the Empire. I will see him again in Sto'Vo'Kor."

"Of that, I am sure, General," Martok said remembering his own recent losses. "I hope that if he meets the Lady Sirella, he doesn't find her too taxing. It takes her a while to warm up to non-Klingons."

"Daniel may have been born human, Sir, but his blood became one with ours. His heart was of Qo'nos." Torlek paused. "Just before his death, he acquired evidence that the Romulans may have been supplying the Cardassian Insurgents all along. It will certainly discredit our enemies one the people are informed."

"The Romulans probably are supporting the insurgents," Martok said matter-of-factly staring out the panoramic windows with his one good eye. "However, our people will never know."

"What?" Torlek said in disbelief. "You suspect that our allies have betrayed us, brought chaos to the empire, and caused the death of thousands of innocents, and yet you conceal it?"

"Watch your tone, General," Martok said as a courtesy to keep Torlek from signing his own death warrant. "The Romulans are no ally of ours, and they never were. They fought the Dominion out of convenience, not honor.

They see an opportunity now to cripple us, just as they have tried time and time again over the past century: Narendra, Khitomer, The Duras Civil War, What they have already done is of no consequence. Informing the masses will only fuel their fears that we can no longer protect them. All that matters now is that many of our own people now doubt the strength and stability of our traditional way of life. The Romulans did not plant that seed. They merely watered it."

Martok steered the subject back towards this meeting's true purpose.

"The reason I asked to meet with you personally was to see if there was anything you wished to add that was not in your official reports."

"Sir?" Torlek asked inquisitively.

"You are a senior commander, Torlek. You know that Imperial Intelligence imbeds agents on all capital ships. I received several reports from them about the unpleasantness that occurred surrounding the death of a certain Bekk Ratnek"

Torlek growled. He knew that Imperial Intelligence probably had agents on the HoS, but he still was disgusted at any Klingon who refused to show their true face to him. It was a common complaint the military had about the clandestine nature of I-I.

"It was a very difficult incident for most of the crew to bear. The young Bekk proved himself in battle, only to die at the hands of a fellow Klingon because he spoke his heart."

"There is two sides to every story, General," Martok said leaning back in his chair. "However, Imperial Intelligence also reported that you banished the lieutenant back to Qo'nos in public disgrace for enforcing discipline in his platoon."

"I would not call what the lieutenant did 'discipline,' Chancellor."

"I have executed a fair number of subordinates in my time, General, often to the chagrin of our Federation allies."

"I do not care what the Federation thinks of us, Sir," Torlek said firmly. "I have executed many subordinates myself, but it was always for a proper reason. The whole point of our mission was to secure the loyalty of the commoners. Lieutenant Tang jeopardized all of that with his rash actions."

"I tend to agree with you, Torlek," Martok replied. "However, your very public response to Qas DevwI' Warkan may have been too far in the other direction. I-I felt that you should have executed him as well. His words apparently came dangerously close to sedition. They questioned both your actions and your loyalty in their report."

"Then those cowardly petaQpu can say that to my face!"

Martok raised his right hand to calm Torlek's fury.

"It was a very serious charge to level against any Klingon officer, especially one with such a distinguished record as yours. Before I make a decision on how to proceed, I wanted to look in the eyes and speak warrior to warrior. That is why you are here."

"What do you see in my eyes, Chancellor?" Torlek spoke as he leaned forward.

"I see a man who is deeply troubled. Speak your mind, Torlek. We will not solve this crisis facing the Empire by hiding in the muck of deceit like Ferengi."

Torlek sighed contemplatively.

"Tell me, do you remember what it was like to grow up in the Ketha lowlands?"

Martok leaned forward and banged his fists on his desk.

"Excuse me?"

"I meant no disrespect, Sir," Torlek said. "It is just that I grew up on my family's estate. I was raised to be an officer from before I could walk. When I was not practicing Mok'bara, I was studying history, science, mathematics, philosophy, the words of Kahless�"

"Is there a point to this, General?" Martok asked still quite incensed. Torlek looked the Chancellor in the eyes.

"I never had to wonder if I would have enough to eat at night. I never had to labor to earn a day's pay. I never doubted what my future would be.

One of my officer's on the HoS served with you on the raid on the Trelka V Raid with Kor, the Dahar Master." The sound of that man's name still made Martok grit his teeth. "He told me of your troubles with that man. That you had to spend five years cleaning an officer's mess before you could earn your commission�"

"I don't need you to remind me of my own biography, General!" Martok shouted.

"Then I ask you to answer me this question: in another life, if you never were able to earn that commission, would you be satisfied living and dying at the command of people like me with no say in your own destiny?"

Martok scoffed.

"You have spent too much time around humans, General, thinking about what MIGHT have been. A warrior's destiny is written in fate before he or she is born."

Torlek paused. His next comment could very well make him the next subordinate Martok executed.

"Did you believe that when you were scrubbing those tables on General ShiVang's flagship? Did you think it would always be your destiny to clean up spilled grapok sauce and pipius shells, or did you believe you could be something more if only given the opportunity?"

"You are coming dangerously close to challenging me, General!" Martok said briefly raising his voice. His bodyguards slowly began moving their bat'leths from their shoulders, but Martok soon collapsed backwards into his seat. "However, there were days when I felt like I would never become anything more than the pathetic servant that I was. What kept me from ending my life in disgrace was the everlasting hope that I would be given the chance to prove myself in battle. That I would force those officers to see the real me! To listen to my words! To regard me as more than just�" Martok stopped himself, closing his one remaining eye.

"As what, Chancellor?" Torlek emphasized Martok's title in the hope that it would remind him how far he had risen from his humble beginnings.

"As more than just a wretched commoner." Martok suddenly rose from his chair and marched over to the statues in the entranceway to his study. He stared at the stone statues of his predecessors, each one bearing the crest of a noble house on their shoulder. Torlek slowly walked up behind him. Martok didn't turn his head to look at him. "You have made your point, General. But what exactly do you suggest I do about it?"

"I am a Soldier, My Lord, not a politician."

Martok turned and glared at him again.

"Are you suggesting that I am only a politician now?"

"No, Chancellor. However, the mantle of leadership rests upon your shoulders, not mine. It will be your choice whether or not you will give a voice to all Klingons." Martok scoffed.

"A voice? Exactly what kind of voice do you propose I give them? Should we cast out the High Councilors into the streets? Should I rip off my cassock and drop to my knees in front of the mob?"

"Before he died," Torlek began, "My brother reminded me that too much power, too soon will result only in chaos, disorder, and death. However, if we show the people that there is hope for tomorrow, that they have a choice in the affairs of the Empire, I think it will prove that there is a future for all of Kahless' children."

"The Son of Tigranian was wise," Martok said gently bowing his head.

"He was, My Lord," Torlek said. "Daniel was a formidable warrior and a man of true honor. He was a brother not only to me, but to all Klingons."

Martok placed a hand on Torlek's shoulder.

"I pray that Kahless lifts him out of the Cavern of Despair and reveals himself to him in all his glory."

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