Office of the Federation Council President; Paris, France; Earth
Federation President Min Zife was on comm with an intelligence liaison from his office in the Palais de la Concorde. Darkness ascended over the city, but Zife kept the lights dim to avoid attracting the attention of people working late shifts at the Palais. After all, he was conducting top-secret business with a high-ranking operative of Starfleet Intelligence. More to the point, this was an off-the-record operation specifically ordered by the President.
Commander Kenyon Dietz had been assigned to the non-aligned world of Tezwa along the border between the Federation and the Klingon Empire. The dark-skinned human male had contacted Zife just after midnight, Paris local time, to update him on his mission. Over the last month, Dietz was investigating rumors of increased military activity on Tezwa. The Tezwan people had never posed much of a threat to either the Federation or the Empire in the last century. Dietz’s mission was to gauge whether Tezwa was in any position to wage war with the two major powers in the region.
“I can confirm now,” Dietz said in concluding his report, “that the weapons are being added to the planetary defense system’s current arsenal. Your worst fears may be coming true.”
“Thank you for the information, Agent Dietz,” Zife replied stoically. “Contact me again in twenty-four hours when you can receive further instructions.”
Zife immediately cut the transmission, replacing the image of Dietz on the monitor with the UFP seal. The Bolian tilted his head downward as he massaged his temples. He was lost in his thoughts when his intercom chimed. “I thought I ordered no interruptions,” he groaned.
“You wished to be notified when Mister Azernal arrived,” a feminine voice replied.
“Send him in then,” Zife said, arching his fully bald head backwards against the top of his leather upholstered chair.
A tall, skinny Zakdorn male slowly paced into the office checking the wall-mounted monitor to make sure the President was not on comm with anyone. The chief-of-staff then walked over to the desk to face Zife.
Zife clasped both his hands together on the desk and shot Koll Azernal a cold stare. “I’ll come right to the point, Koll,” he somberly stated. “The weapons placed on Tezwa are in the process of being implemented into their planetary defense system.”
“It was a risky move five years ago,” Azernal recalled. “I knew then that Prime Minster Kinchawn was a loose cannon.”
“It was a calculated risk,” Zife replied. “Now we have to do damage control before all hell breaks loose.”
Azernal later stepped into his own office. As he fidgeted with a desk lamp in the darkened room, a humanoid figure sidled up to him. The other person pushed a button to close the door. Azernal successfully activated the lighting device, and then turned around startled to see a familiar Vulcan woman in a black leather jumpsuit.
“You shouldn’t be here, Director L’Haan,” the chief-of-staff nervously said.
“A most illogical statement,” L’Haan retorted, “considering the delicate nature of this operation. What do you have to report?”
“The President has confirmed that the situation on Tezwan is worse than Section 31 initially believed.”
If Koll did not know any better, he’d have thought L’Haan was smirking when the right edge of her lips twitched. No Vulcan would ever admit to even minor displays of emotion. But then most Vulcan women did not wear their hair in a short coiffure as L’Haan did.
“You’ll be pleased to know the operation on Nimbus Three is underway,” she said with an eerie coldness.
Azernal rolled his eyes as he circled around the desk and sat down. Doing damage control on Tezwa would be difficult enough. Now Section 31 was carrying out a mission more risky than illegally supplying classified technology to a minor power five years earlier.
IKS Sword of Kahless
Whether the Legend of Klag was true or not, Worf still considered Klag, son of M’Raq, one of the Empire’s greatest heroes during the Dominion War. After the IKS Pagh crash-landed on Marcan Five, Klag was the only survivor. Klag reportedly defeated a garrison of seven Jem’Hadar despite having lost an arm and suffering severe blood lost. How he pulled it off was of no great importance since he clearly survived that ordeal.
Of course, Worf had known of Klag and the Pagh well before that legendary confrontation when the Enterprise-D’s first officer served aboard the Klingon Bird-of-Prey as part of the officer exchange program. During that assignment, the Pagh’s Captain Kargan believed the Enterprise was responsible for a metallic parasite growing on the hull of his ship and was determined to retaliate. When Kargan was about to order the attack, Will Riker, courtesy of a command transponder Worf had given him, had Kargan beamed off the bridge. Klag, then second officer of the Pagh, stood by Riker’s order to stand down. Riker had earned the respect of his crew and his captain, although Kargan was also offended that Riker did not assassinate him per the long-standing Klingon naval tradition.
Worf had learned after Riker’s return to the Enterprise, that Kargan had a distinguished reputation for recklessness, often looking for any excuse for a fight without fully considering whether or not the cause was a worthy one. That recklessness might have led to Kargan’s ultimate demise at Marcan Five. The ambassador had informed the now-Captain Klag of the attempt on Martok’s life and gave his assurances that their chancellor was in good hands back on Deep Space Nine. Worf was now pressing Klag for specifics regarding the captain’s current mission.
“It is a dark time for the Empire,” Klag said, while in communication with Worf. “I regret that I cannot share all the details of my mission with a Federation diplomat. But I have great respect for you as a fellow warrior of the Empire, Ambassador Worf.”
“And I, you, Captain Klag,” Worf replied as he stood in front of a wall mounted communications monitor in the VIP suite. “What information can you share with me?”
“For the last six months,” Klag grimly stated, “I have been tracking the movements of warriors who continue to follow the old ways. I am certain you are familiar with the Ku-Vok-leth, my friend. They call themselves the Honor Brigade, but they have not always fought with honor ever the since the Federation first became our ally.”
“Yes. All too well,” Worf replied, recalling the Klingon warriors who were guests aboard 1701-D during his first year of service there. Korris and Konmel had reminded him that he could not ignore his Klingon roots even having lived among humans most of his life. But amid Korris’s insatiable appetite for battle, he lacked a sense of duty, honor, and loyalty, qualities without which, Worf had said then, a warrior was nothing.
“But this assassination attempt,” Worf continued, “could only have been carried out this easily if they had informants in the High Council and on this ship.”
“Then I hope you are on a secure channel. Otherwise you are taking a big risk contacting me.”
“Anyone hoping to eavesdrop would have to get through five layers of encryptions.”
Or so Worf thought as an officer aboard the Sword of Kahless was already listening in on the communiqué with Klag. The officer sat at a desk observing the transmission on a monitor. He began entering commands on the computer terminal to begin recording and transmission of the communiqué.
A profile capsule appeared on Worf’s screen containing information on a person of interest Klag had just transmitted. Pictured in the capsule was a Klingon with a cold stare in his eyes. His frizzy dark hair had streaks of gray hair down both sides. “This is Kur’Tok,” Klag explained. “He is a civilian engineer on Nimbus Three, the senior engineer of a pergium mine. In the last month, he has received bi-weekly shipments from Romulan military shuttles.”
Worf gave a skeptical wince as he continued to read Kur’Tok’s profile. This engineer’s dealings with Romulans were suspicious enough since the Star Empire had a wealth of pergium deposits within its own territory. So if these Romulans were military officers traveling to the hind end of the Beta Quadrant to meet with the senior engineer of a pergium mine, then that would confirm speculation the Romulan Empire was supporting the Ku-Vok-leth. “Then I will meet with you at Nimbus Three,” Worf said. “Qa’Pla, Captain Klag.”
“Qa’Pla, Ambassador Worf.”
The eavesdropping officer turned off the monitor to Worf’s quarters disengaging the recording. He then entered commands on the terminal to send a discreet transmission to a member of the High Council.
An elderly Klingon with thinning white hair appeared on the monitor screen. The image of Councilor Ru’qel was barely visible because the officer was using various communications scramblers, including green numeral thirty-ones streaking across the top and bottom of the screen. Martok had suspected Ru’qel of trying to usurp his position and every chancellor before for as long he served in the Council. Though already next in line for the chancellor-ship, Ru’qel was the last person to start an insurrection because he was fading of old age and he had no male heirs.
“Why are you contacting me on this frequency?” Ru’qel demanded, baffled that a fellow Klingon was associated with a Federation black ops organization. True the continued alliance between the Federation and the Empire was in both their best interests even if that meant keeping certain secrets hidden. If war did break out over those secrets, then both sides would be even more at the mercy of nearby enemies such as the Romulans or the Tholians. Still, a Klingon Defense Force officer’s involvement with Section 31 could get him hanged for treason if such an association were public knowledge.
“Worf is on to us,” the officer plainly replied. “As is Klag. It is their hope to apprehend and detain Kur’Tok.”
Ru’qel chortled until the muscles in his throat strained. He started wheezing to the point where the younger Klingon officer thought he would cough out his internal organs. The elderly politician downed a shot of liquor to calm the coughing and took a few slow breaths. “He must be even more desperate than I suspected,” he mused, “if he’s sending Klag on these missions instead of someone in Imperial Intelligence. No matter. I will send a garrison to Nimbus Three. The traitorous son of Mogh will be in for a big surprise.”
The Tiralihaan slowly exited the Baber Nebula, and then streaked into warp once the ship was clear of the nebular gases. Unbeknownst to the crew, Donatra and the Valdore were one step ahead of them.
Commander Inneraat Suran stared out the viewport of his private chamber, taking in one last look at the mosaic of colors across the spectrum that composed the Baber Nebula. Despite the many Spartan aspects of Romulan culture, Suran had a strong sense of aesthetics. Yet he was among those who would perpetuate the myth that the Romulan heart itself was gray. The relative lack of artistic creativity was perhaps derived from their Vulcan cousins; even though Suran and many other Romulans would be loathe to admit that to off-worlders just as no Vulcan would admit to an alien that his or her actions were motivated by emotion.
As the nebula became smaller in size from his vantage point, Suran turned around at the same time the door chimed. “Enter,” he called.
Subcommander Bralek entered carrying a padd containing the daily personnel report. “The personnel review,” he said, holding up the padd.
“Thank you, Subcommander,” Suran replied, pacing over to the replicator. “I’ll look it over.”
“There’s also a more pressing matter, sir,” Bralek continued, setting the padd down on the desk. “Our sensor readings indicate intermittent tachyon spikes along our course from ch’Rihan to the Nebula. They are highly concentrated suggesting a cloaked vessel on a course parallel to our own.”
Suran removed a glass of Romulan ale from the replicator tray and took a small sip as he walked back to his desk. “Are they shadowing us now?” he asked, starting to wonder who besides his crew and his superiors in the Tal Shiar knew about his secret trip to the Baber Nebula.
“No, sir. But the sensor logs from our passive scans indicate a warbird did uncloak at the nebula’s perimeter.”
Bralek entered a command on the padd and pointed to a set of numbers that appeared on the screen. “The warp signature registers as the Valdore,” the subcommander continued.
Suran’s eyes widened, indicating to Bralek that the commander agreed with his conclusion.
“Donatra,” Suran muttered. But of all his former protégés, Donatra was the last person he would expect to be that sloppy. I taught you better than that, Miette, he silently mused. Unless she wants me to know that’s her following me.
“Sir,” said Bralek, leaning downward until his eyes met Suran’s. “She could be headed for Nimbus Three. If that’s the case, she could undermine our whole operation. We should report this to your superiors.”
“Not yet. I want to wait and see what she does when she gets to Nimbus. That means it’s time for us to shadow her.”
“Yes, sir,” Bralek skeptically replied. He knew Donatra was often too intelligent and ambitious for her own good. Bralek knew to never question Donatra’s patriotism. On the other hand, of all his understudies, Donatra was one whom Suran was most fond of. Bralek feared that Suran would not be willing to make the hard choice if Donatra was, in fact, trying to undermine their whole operation.
Suran gave a suspicious stare at Bralek as the subcommander paced out of the office. Something about Bralek seemed suspicious. He had been a loyal soldier of the empire for almost six decades. A man of early middle age as indicated by a few streaks of gray in his hair, Bralek had certainly earned his way up the ranks without any special treatment. But his slightly slanted lips accompanied by a semi-involuntary twitch on the right edge seemed eerily familiar. The human operative he had met on Romulus a few days earlier had a similar twitch, as did Senator Vreenak’s chief-of-staff. Maybe that was just a coincidence.