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Author's Note: For details of the Klingon conquest of Planet San-Tarah, see Keith R.A. DeCandido's IKS Gorkon series: A Good Day to Die and Honor Bound.

Lakarian City: Cardassia Prime, Republic of Cardassia

Stardate: 54511.2

Lakarian City lay on the sunny shores of the Kriil Ocean. It was once one the most prosperous and peaceful cities in the entire Cardassian Empire. Before the war, Lakarian was home to many examples of ancient Hebitian architecture, museums, and a cartoon-themed amusement park that every Cardassian child dreamed of visiting. Then on Stardate 52902.1, a date which has since been memorialized by the Cardassian Republic as a day of national remembrance and mourning, the Jem'Hadar razed the entire city to the ground, burned every structure to ashes, and slaughtered every single one of the city's two million residents. This act of brutality and carnage was based solely on one order from the Founders:

"I want the Cardassians exterminated…All of them. The entire population."

Little of Lakarian City had been rebuilt since the peace. Many Cardassians simply wanted the site preserved as a memorial to the fallen. Reconstruction was focused on the capital city where foreign powers invested huge sums of currency to construct their consulates and embassies as symbols of the new, cosmopolitan Cardassia Prime. The Klingons were different.

Instead of placing their offices next to the Federation and Romulan delegations, they received a grant from the Cardassian government for 50 acres outside of Lakarian. There, overlooking the sea, they built a small of piece of Qo'noS complete with gardens, temples, and imported plants and animals from the empire. The site of Klingon style architecture rising out of the ruins of Lakarian served two purposes. The first was as a symbol of utter triumph over the Dominion. The second was as a reminder that no amount of ghosts from the past would scare the Klingons from their ultimate purpose on Cardassia Prime: to prevent the enemies of the empire from ever using this world again.

The Imperial jenSa's palace overlooked the central gardens and out towards the ocean. As the sun peaked out from over the distant horizon, its rays brilliantly reflected off the waves breaking on the sandy shoreline. The only sounds were the gentle pounding of the surf and the cries of sea birds searching for their morning meal.

Inside the Klingon embassy's walls, several guardsmen practiced a morning Mok'Bara kata beneath a large wooden arch that towered over the central courtyard. Two civilian gardeners pulled wooden rakes through a pit of sand and boulders imported from Qo'noS' sacred Balduq plains. Each day, the gardeners would sculpt intricate patterns into the pit to serve as places of quiet reflection and mediation for Klingon residents wishing to forget they were on Cardassia. The night breezes would erase their laborious work without fail, but at sunrise they would always start anew. It was the perfect example of taHjajSun or "Eternal Discipline:" the first step on the path to QI'tu', the "Place of Enlightenment."

As morning light finally filled the gardens, a gong rang through the compound to signal the start of the new day. On his stone balcony, Tigranian was deep in his practice. He was dressed only in a pair of black, pleated may'yopwaH that hung loosely around his legs. His bare torso was already drenched in sweat as this equatorial region of Cardassia never seemed to drop below thirty degrees centigrade. He swung his bat'leth around his head in a fast, fluid, and deadly practice kata.

The baakonite sang as it cut through the air, hacking through six enemies that only existed in Tigranian's mind. The crescent of razor sharp metal flew in an arc around his wrists before recoiling above his left shoulder into an upper guard. Tigranian raised his right leg off the ground in ramjep form before striking downward in vIghro' with enough force to cleave a fully grown LIngta' in half. He threw his arms apart before slowly raising the sword over his head. Then, he slowly lowered it in front of his eyes.

Just as he began to feel somewhat at peace, the rays of dawn caught the brilliant pattern of metal to illuminate the dedication inscription on the inner blade. It was a phrase his brother had always encouraged him to remember and repeat in times of trouble:

"tlhIngan maH"

"We are Klingons"

With a reminder of what had been a source of joy, all the events of the past weeks came flooding back: the destruction of the Lokrana, the tribunal, his dismissal, and his choice to forever side with the Klingon Empire over the Federation. Tigranian gritted his teeth and placed his forehead against the krencha skin grips on the spine of his sword. However, he suddenly felt like he was being watched. He spun around to see Laria dressed in a black t-shirt and shorts leaning against the stone archway leading to the interior of their new mansion.

"I didn't mean to disturb you," she said quietly.

"You didn't," Tigranian replied as he dropped his bat'leth into the crook of his right arm. "I was just finishing up anyways."

"You know," Laria said looking at the sunrise over the calm ocean, "growing up as a Bajoran girl on Gault, I dreamed of living in so many different and exotic places: strange, new worlds with unlimited wonders…I didn't think Cardassia would be one of them."

Tigranian's gaze dropped as he slowly walked to grab a towel hanging from the side of the balcony.

"Laria, I'm so sorry for all of this."

Her response surprised him.

"Don't be," she said with calm resoluteness. "The only people who should feel sorry are in the Fed. Torlek did right by you, and it was a wonderful reminder of why I joined your family." She grinned as she walked up to her husband. "There is no place in the galaxy I would rather be than right here, right now, with you."

She reached up and rubbed the dark stubble on the side of his face. Tigranian hadn't shaved since he had accepted a position as a general in the KDF. "And I really like this…" she added with a wink.

Tigranian smirked.

"A male Klingon officer without a beard is unthinkable," he replied. "The fact my wife enjoys it is only a bonus." She rolled her at him as he looked her up and down. "And I'm not sure I'm comfortable with the captain of my flagship making sexual advances towards her commander."

"Well, get used to it," she said throwing her shoulders back confidently, "because Laria HoD is very territorial when it comes to both her husband and her ship."

"I'll remember that," Tigranian said walking towards the interior of the palace.

"You better!" Laria called after him.

"I'll be home late tonight. There's a meeting of the Assistance Force Joint Military Council and it's the first time they'll be meeting the new Imperial jenSa'," he said betraying a hint of nerves in his voice. Laria took a deep breath.

"Warrior!" she called out after him. He paused and turned back around. "Make sure they never forget the new Imperial jenSa' either. They need to understand that Torlek placed you on that council for good reason, not just to be petty."

Tigranian nodded.

"jIyaj, My Lady," he said with a respectful nod and just the hint of a smile.


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