Rellas stared down into his metal tankard filled with red bloodwine. He took a long swig and savored the burning flavor.
"You know, it's a shame I didn't find this earlier. The taste is growing on me."
He sat on a chair in Tigranian's quarters. Laria sat across from him while the captain leaned against a wall beside his wife. Lucretia stood with Grisgok and Tulan across the room. They also held tankards filled with Klingon spirits, but the mood of the room was far from cheery.
"This is my last bottle of 2309," Tigranian said. "Even Lord Torlek can't get anymore. I was saving it for a special occasion. This seemed as good as any…" he said lifting his tankard to his lips.
"I am honored," Rellas said with a nod.
"We're never going to see you again, are we?" Laria asked with deep sadness in her voice as she addressed the elephant in the room.
"You never know how our destinies may meet again," Rellas said briefly shutting his eyes, "but you are right, My Lady. You probably won't."
There was a long silence before Tigranian finally spoke.
"I want to thank you one more time for saving my life on Dacen. I wouldn't have survived the ludus if it wasn't for you."
"You already repaid me by saving my life during Selonia's banquet," Rellas replied.
"Excuse me?" Laria asked while cocking her head forward.
"With quite a bit of help from Lady Laria," Rellas added with a grin as he took another sip of VSOP bloodwine.
"Thank you," Laria said with a forced smile as she also drank from her tankard.
"Dammit, Rellas," Lucretia said. "It's not too late to change your mind."
"No, it's not," Rellas replied. "But I'm not going to."
"Then at least let us come with you!" Tulan said desperately.
"Yes," Grisgok added. "You will need help to recruit new followers, My Lord!"
"I forbid it!" Rellas said angrily. "You have pledged me your loyalty and this is my final command to you. Lady Lucretia cannot run an entire colony alone. You will serve her as well as you served me." He looked at the last of the original Soldiers of Akarath with grateful eyes. "We are all Klingon citizens now: true warriors given ascent by the Chancellor of the Empire. You must assure that the virtues of Honor, Duty, and Loyalty always remain among our people. You will be the ones to sing our songs and tell our stories."
Lucretia walked over and put her hand on Rellas'.
"And your name will forever be spoken with honor among our children and our children's children. This is my oath to you."
Laria began to laugh. All turned to look at her.
"Child," Lucretia said blinking her eyes, "do you mind telling me what precisely is so funny?"
Laria looked around her quarters.
"I just realized that everyone in this room is a Klingon warrior, but none of us were born Klingon."
Everyone took a moment to process her profound statement.
"Welcome to the new empire," Tigranian finally said raising his tankard in a toast. "Long may it reign."