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Ternaria System: United Federation of Planets

Stardate: 54513.2

Scharr tasted the bratwurst on the plate in front of him.

"This is delicious, Ma'am," he said turning to Annabeth at the end of the table.

"I'm German, Tren," she replied trying to put a smile on her face. "I may not be able to cook anything else, but if I screwed up sausage, I'd be disowned." Annabeth wanted the crew to have one more nice meal before what was sure to be a hard day tomorrow. She still had no idea what she was going to say to the Council's investigators.

"Do you think what we tell them even matters?" Phil asked taking a sip of lager. "It seems like the entire Federation has already made up their mind."

"The truth always matters," Katie said playing with her fried cabbage with the tines of her fork. "It doesn't matter if Councilor Vanna and her toadies get it right. Even if Captain T and Laria never get to come home, they'll at least know we stood up for them."

Annabeth pursed her lips and took a sip of beer.

"What do you think, Ma'am?" Phil suddenly asked Annabeth. "Are they really gonna push for political action against the Klingons?"

His question roused Annabeth from her introspection. She shook out of her haze.

"You know as much as I do, Phil. Starfleet didn't tell me anything else."

"I never trust politicians," Scharr said. "They always put themselves before everything else. Not a shred of honor among any of them."

"Don't you think that might be a bit of an overgeneralization, Tren?" Annabeth asked.

"I just call it like I see it, Ma'am," he replied shrugging his shoulders and his antennae.

"Why don't we switch to a happier topic?" Annabeth suggested. "What about you two?" she said looking down the table to T'les and Katan. "You're both uncharacteristically quiet."

The doctor and and T'les exchanged glances.

"I believe T'les was wondering if Starfleet Science had selected a replacement at Science?" Katan said covering for his clandestine girlfriend. T'les still felt unease at revealing their relationship to the group.

"Actually," Annabeth said smiling. "I do have some news on that front," she said wiping her mouth with a napkin. "His name is Lieutenant Aaron Adamson and he'll join us when we return to Earth in two weeks."

"Aaron Adamson?" Phil said. "His name is really Aaron Adamson? Sounds like a 20th century sitcom character."

T'les immediately perked up.

"I do not care what his name his," the Vulcan replied raising her eyebrow, "as long as he allows me to return to my place in Engineering."

"Our family continues to grow," Annabeth said with a smirk before turning to Katie. "Oh and before you ask, Number One, no your replacement hasn't been announced yet. I have a request in, but Starfleet is still mulling it over."

"Dammit," Katie grumbled.

"Looks like you'll have to be happy filling out duty rosters for a little while longer," Annabeth said. Everyone else laughed.

Suddenly, Annabeth's personal monitor pinged with a message.

"Excuse me," she said pushing back from the table and walking over to her desk. As soon as she read it, her eyes grew wide. Then, her comm badge chirped.

"Ensign Gleeto to Captain Geist."

"Go ahead," she said tapping her chest.

"We just detected a strange energy reading on Deck 2 in Captain Tigranian's old quarters…"

"Acknowledged," Annabeth said cutting him off. "I'm right next door. I'll check it out."

"Captain?" Gleeto replied confused.

"I said I'll check it out!" Annabeth said. Maintain current position and speed. "If it's something, I'll let you know!"

Gleeto paused on the other end.

"Aye Ma'am…"

"Captain, what is going on?" Katie said rising from the table.

"All of you, stay here until I get back. That is an order!" she said disappearing out into the corridor.

The doors closed behind her as she disappeared. The other members of the dinner party sat in silence for a few moments. Finally, Scharr took another bite of sauerkraut and turned to T'les and Katan.

"He's a good man, T," the Andorian said with a smirk. "Congratulations."

"On what, Mr. Scharr?" T'les asked trying to conceal her surprise. The old Andorian laughed and glanced at Katan.

"My Dear, you don't have to be a telepath to figure some things out."

****

Annabeth stopped outside of Tigranian's quarters. They had been sealed since Dan and Laria left the ship.

"Computer, Security Override: command authorization, Geist Whiskey 8-2 Bravo."

"Acknowledged."

The doors parted and Annabeth stepped inside. In the middle of the dark and empty room, a figure stood with his back to her.

"Computer, Lock doors. No one enters without my authorization," Annabeth said crossing her arms.

"Acknowledged."

Then, Annabeth tapped her comm badge.

"Bridge, this is the captain. Must be a false alarm. There's nothing in here."

"Roger, Ma'am. We'll run a sensor diagnostic."

"Geist out." Once the transmission disconnected, she turned back to the intruder. "I'm not going to ask how you beamed aboard without setting off the intruder alarms," Annabeth said walking towards the shadowy form. "But I know how close your cloaked ship has to be to do it. As soon as you sent me that message, I could have raised shields and had you arrested." Annabeth said angrily.

Torlek slowly turned around.

"But I knew you wouldn't," he said calmly.

Do you have any idea how bad it would be if you were detected?" she added with her hands on her hips.

"The human fascination with what might be always amazes me," the old Klingon said. "I figured that with the arrival of your special guests tomorrow, this would be better than a more public meeting."

"Torlek, why are you here?" Annabeth said rubbing her temples. "You could have just called on subspace."

"No. To get the answer I require, I had to look right into your eyes."

"And do you have it?" she said exasperated.

"Yes," he said nodding. "I do." Slowly, he crossed towards her. "I have lived long enough to know that the Federation could once again become my enemy, but there will always be good people within it. You may fight under their flag, Annabeth, Daughter of Geist, but you are also cha'Dich to the House of Torlek, mother of my brother's godson, and a woman of honor."

From beneath his cloak he pulled out a leather-bound book and handed it to her.

"I gave a copy of this to Daniel many years ago. May it speak to you as it spoke to him. Unfortunately, it loses something in translation. Perhaps you should learn Klingon."

"I doubt that's going to happen," she muttered as she took the book and opened it to the cover page:

The qeS'a'

Precepts Derived from the Teachings of Kahless the Unforgettable

She noticed that a page had already been marked. She turned to it and read:

Tenth Precept

Guard Honor Above All

"Is this a warning?" she said skeptically.

"Not at all," he said shaking his head. "It is merely a guide. Go with Kahless, Daughter of Geist. Farewell. I pray that it is not for the last time."

Before Annabeth could respond, he pressed the communicator on his sleeve.

"jol yIchu'"

Torlek instantly disappeared in a sparkle of red light. Annabeth found herself alone.


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