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

Stardate: 54451.6

Laria stood around a wooden planning table covered with charts, reports, and maps. Lady Elessa stood next to her as Torlek briefed Martok on what the Defense Forces had uncovered so far about the attempt on his life. It wasn't much. There was also another Klingon man dressed in a black tunic standing a few meters away. His conniving demeanor and unfeeling eyes set Laria on edge. Earlier Martok had introduced him as Agent Dokath, liason to the Chancellory from Imperial Intelligence. Also known as I-I, it was the branch of Klingon government responsible for espionage, subterfuge, and counter-spy operations. Their reputation for ruthlessness and dishonorable practices had made them unpopular even among their own people, but both Martok and the High Council continued to realize their necessity.

As Laria shifted in her newly acquired set of Klingon armor, her mind drifted back to her history classes at the Academy. The most widely known I-I operation in Federation history was also one of its most embarrassing. In late 2367, an Imperial Intelligence agent, posing as a Federation bureaucrat, attempted to disrupt colonization efforts on Sherman's Planet by poisoning a shipment of food grain on Space Station K7. The entire plot unraveled thanks to a group of hungry tribbles and the ingenuity of the Enterprise-1701 crew. The responsible agent was arrested, charged with espionage, and sentenced to 75 years in a Federation Penal Colony. His Klingon punishment, carried out in absentia, was far worse. He was discommended by the High Council for treasonable incompetence. The Klingon Chancellor at the time, Lorak, also declared Blood Feud against the entire Tribble species. The following year, a Klingon armada of 20 warships rendered the Tribble homeworld uninhabitable with almost eight months of orbital bombardment. Nearly 110 years later, the radiation levels on the surface were still toxic to most humanoids. It was a stark warning to other species not to get on the bad side of Klingons.

"So, we know at least some the qutluchpu were connected to the House of Duras," Martok said studying the notes Torlek handed him. "We also know that they were financed through a secret bank account on Ferenginar…"

"However, we do not know who the account belongs too, or if it is linked to Romulus," Torlek replied. "The data is encrypted and the Ferengi are not talking."

"There are some days," Martok muttered, "when I miss the old times before we allied with the Federation. All it would take is three or four attack cruisers, and then Grand Nagus Rom would sing like an Arturian Canary," he grumbled. "Dokath, will Imperial Intelligence be able to crack the encryption?"

"Chancellor, I once again strongly recommend against Federation personnel being present during this briefing," Dokath said glaring at Laria. "We don't want to share all our capabilities with them."

"Your recommendation is noted and rejected!" Martok screamed. "The Daughter of Amira is here not only because she is Starfleet, but because she is a brilliant scholar and a formidable warrior: two things that I cannot say about you. Now, answer my question!"

"Yes Chancellor," Dokath replied. "The encryption protocol used by the Ferengi Central Bank is a quintuple redundant quantum regenerating algorithm. We have our best code breakers on it, but they say it could take months…"

"If they're using standard decryption protocols," Laria interjected, "more like years. Have you tried using the Cardassian Rotating Terminus Equation to find the decryption key?"

"No one has been able to decipher any of the Cardassian Decryption Equations since the Obsidian Order was liquidated," Dokath said like he was talking to a moron.

"Are you sure about that?" Laria said cocking her head to the side. "Oops, I guess Starfleet Intelligence doesn't share everything with you either…"

Dokath growled and Laria slowly reached for one of her mek'leths.

"Enough!" Torlek said. "This is bickering gets us nowhere. There must be another way to find out the origins of the assassins."

"If the assassins came from the House of Duras," Elessa interjected. "Why don't we just ask someone from the House of Duras?"

"Lady Elessa," Martok said, "The House of Duras is a house in name only. Their lands seized, their warships gone. Where would we find their leader?"

"We're not even sure if Toral, Son of Duras, is still alive," Torlek added.

Elessa laughed.

"Typical men…" she chuckled. "We're dealing with a house's finances here. Tell me husband," she said turning to Torlek. "Do you know how much your estate is worth?"

Torlek nervously looked around the table.

"Only because you tell me…" he finally uttered.

"Exactly!" Elessa said making her point. "If we want to find out about a bank account, we must ask a woman."

"Lursa and B'Etor have been dead almost a decade," Dokath said.

"A house has more than two women in it," Elessa said rolling her eyes. "And I think I know exactly where to find the one that counts. Laria, you will accompany me. These others may not join us."

The three Klingon men nodded their heads in understanding.

"Qapla', Elessa, Daughter of Krisn'ath," Martok said. "We await your findings."

"Yes Chancellor," she said with a bow.

"Go with Kahless, my wife," Torlek added as Elessa grabbed Laria's arm and dragged her towards the doors.

"Wait," Laria said very confused. "Where are we going and why can't they come with us?"

"Where we go, no man may enter," Elessa said confidently.

"And where is that?" Laria asked. Elessa grinned as she looked back over her shoulder at the baffled Bajoran.

"To the qo'InSong," Elessa replied. "The Flower World."


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