[personal profile] pook41
Title: Fulfilling the Prophecy  part 3
Author: Pook
Fandom: Star Trek: Voyager
Rating: R - for swearing only
Summary: For Audabee's birthday - a Macguffin driven long epic tale about our trusty crew as they return to the AQ

Character/Pairing: Janeway/Chakotay
Spoilers: None
Warnings: None
Author’s Notes: None.
Prompt Number for fic101:  list 2 - 5 - beautiful
Disclaimer: CBS/Paramount owns everything. No infringement intended.
Date: 13/8/07

Harry’s communication console beeped. “Commander, we are receiving an incoming message. Location unknown. It’s not a Starfleet prefix code.”

 

“On screen.”

 

The battered face of their captain appeared larger than life on the view screen to the shock of the bridge crew. Her normally well-groomed hair was messed up and matted with her own blood. A cut was still bleeding on her forehead and there was a large bruise covering her forehead that had closed her left eye.

 

Chakotay closed his eyes for a second; his heart seemed to stop for a second before he regained composure. He’d expected a head wound but was still shocked at her appearance; she’d looked like she’d been used as punching bag. Despite the blood and the bruise, her jaw was set and she appeared determined and defiant.

 

She didn’t allow her crew to dwell on her appearance. She knew what she looked like. Toral had prepared her a statement to read. If she didn’t read it as is, Tabor would be punished. She looked at the padd and began to read, “Commander, you are to follow these instructions. Do not contact Starfleet. Go to cargo bay two and to the large personal cargo box marked Janeway five. The code to the container is Janeway kilo mike one four juliet. Inside the box, you will find an old Klingon dagger. Bring it to transporter room one. You have ten minutes to comply or Ensign Tabor and Crewman Gilmore will suffer the consequences.”

 

Before Chakotay could say anything, the view screen went blank. He blinked, shocked at her appearance and the threat but he recovered quickly. They were lucky that the transporters were now on line. “Tuvok, can we beam the container to the transporter room?”

 

Tuvok checked the display. “Yes, Sir.”

 

“Have it beamed to the transporter room one and have Seven met me in there with a tricorder ASAP.”

 

“Yes, Sir.”

 

Chakotay was in the turbolift before Tuvok had replied. He ran through along the corridor making people get out of the way. Along the way, he wondered why some one would want an old Klingon taj. Kathryn had spent some time on a Klingon ship but that was over ten years ago. If B’Elanna had given Kathryn a gift, she wouldn’t have put it the box with all the other diplomatic gifts. It would’ve been with in her quarters as a personal item. It had to have been from the Klingons from the Kotar they’d met four months ago. Captain Kohlar had been a traditional Klingon and would’ve given Kathryn a farewell gift.

 

He arrived a little breathless in the transporter room at the same time as Seven.

 

“Commander?”

 

“Wait, Seven.” Chakotay knelt by the box and repeated the code, “Janeway kilo mike one four juliet.”

 

The red light on the lock changed to green and Chakotay opened the cargo box. It was filled with gifts from some of the worlds they’d visited. There were ornate vases, intricate pieces of jewellery and old books. He couldn’t remember some of the planets that they’d come from. Kathryn was obliged to hand them to the Federation on completion of their mission but she’d be allowed to keep a few pieces.

 

Chakotay found the dagger under a few items. He unsheathed the knife. “Seven, scan this. Get us much information as you. We don’t have much time.”

 

“Yes, Commander.” Seven flipped open the tricorder and ran the probe all over the dagger and the scabbard. After the scan had finished, Seven processed the data. “The knife is over fifteen hundred years old. I believe it is the qIrom taj.”

 

Chakotay picked up the knife and the sheath. Fifteen hundred years old. It wasn’t the oldest weapon he’d ever held. To be honest it wasn’t that impressive at all. “qIrom taj?”

 

“The Knife of Kirom.” Seven pointed to the initials on the blade. “It is considered sacred to all Klingons because it is the knife that killed Kahless. The knife is said to be stained with the blood of Kahless and it has a very old blood sample on one side. It is said to provide certain mythical powers to the holder.”

 

“Kahless?” Chakotay scratched his chin. Spirits! It would be priceless. “Chakotay to Torres.”

 

“Torres here.”

 

“The Knife of Kirom. Quickly, what can you tell me?”

 

B’Elanna remembered her mother’s talks about the most famous Klingon. [i]“It’s a knife that has the blood of Kahless on it and it’s been locked in a vault on Qo’noS for nearly two centuries ever since Sarpek the Fearless found it.” [/i] She wondered why he was asking about this ancient knife.

 

“I’ve got it in my hand.”

 

“What! Are you sure?”  It had to be a fake, B’Elanna thought.

 

“Yes. It’s over fifteen hundred years old and it has blood on it. And it’s what the kidnappers want.”

 

“Tuvok to Chakotay.”

 

“Go ahead.”

 

“The captain is calling.”

 

“Put her through.”

 

“Commander, do you have the knife?”

 

“Yes, Captain.” He couldn’t speak her name.

 

“Place the knife on the transporter pad and then beam the knife to the following coordinates …”

 

“I will do that but I first need assurances that all the captives are being well treated.” Chakotay stalled, using procedures straight from the handbook on how to handle a hostage situation. By giving them the knife, the hostages’ lives would be in even more danger because their usefulness would be over. Kathryn would know that and he was sure that was what the kidnappers knew as well. He was asking for a show of good faith and he hoped that the captors would be reasonable.

 

Chakotay waited after hearing the link close. He offered a silent prayer to the Spirits. He was taking a risk but he had at least to try.

 

The recognizable whine of a transporter beam materializing something had both Chakotay and Seven on edge.

 

A minute later Marla Gilmore materialized on the transporter pad carrying a padd.

 

Chakotay was relieved.

 

“Janeway to Chakotay.”

 

“Go ahead, Captain.”

 

“There’s your show of good faith. Crewman Gilmore has the coordinates to beam the dagger. You have one minute to comply.”

 

“Marla, beam the dagger.” Chakotay placed the dagger on the transporter pad. If all they wanted was the dagger then he’ll let them have it. Chakotay just wanted Kathryn and Tabor back.

 

“Yes, Sir.” Marla inserted the coordinates and beamed the dagger away.

 

“Where are those coordinates?”

 

“Space, sir.” External sensors were still not functioning properly. All they could tell was that the knife was beamed five hundred kilometres off their port side.

 

“Janeway to Chakotay. We’ll be released when they see that they aren’t being followed.”  Her tone was subdued.

 

Chakotay realized why her tone was quiet. He wondered how they were going to be released. The kidnappers had been very careful in hiding their identity by getting Kathryn to pass on their demands. Their chances of rescue were slim at best and it would be a while before Voyager had any chance of launching a rescue bid. Voyager couldn’t follow them anyway. Spirits! They didn’t even know there was a ship out there. It didn’t even have to be cloaked because their sensors weren’t working.

 

“Marla, are you okay?” Chakotay asked. He wanted Tuvok to debrief her to find out everything they could about the kidnappers after the Doctor had checked her over.

 

“Yes, Sir. I was stunned but I’ll be okay.”

 

Chakotay nodded and ushered her out of the transporter room and toward sickbay.

 

~~*~~

 

“Thank you, Captain. You’ve been most helpful.” Toral sneered, holding the dagger in his hand, waving it on front of her. As he thought, she’d caved in quickly, not wanting the Bajoran to be hurt in front of her. He’d scanned the knife and confirmed its identity as soon as it was beamed aboard. Now he couldn’t wipe the smile of his face. With this relic, the Council would have to recognize him. “I’ve waited a long time for this.”

 

If he’d been asking for her command codes for Voyager then Kathryn would have resisted with everything she had. Tabor would have understood. She couldn’t believe that this Klingon went to all this trouble for an old knife. It had to be very valuable for him to risk everything. She just couldn’t remember what Kohlar had said about the knife other than it was very old. It was possible that Kohlar hid the true value of the knife from her. To protect her? Possibly. She didn’t know and was unlikely to get any answers from this Klingon.

 

“Rong, put them back in the cells.” Toral watched as Denel and the Andorian moved Tabor and Janeway back to the makeshift cells. When Rong reactivated the force field, Toral walked over to Janeway, who was standing, hands on her hips. “Captain, relax. You’ll be released as soon as we reach our destination.” Toral spun on his heel and left the cargo bay with Denel, leaving Rong to ensure the cargo bay was secure.

 

Kathryn scoffed, not believing that for a second as she rubbed her hands to get circulation going after being tied up. This Klingon was not like any normal Klingon she’d known unless they’d changed in the seven years that they’d been away. He had no honour. He’d threatened to turn both her and Marla over to his men and have Tabor tortured in front of her to get what he wanted.

 

Her head throbbed and she was finding it hard to concentrate. She was tired and letting her mind wander. This wasn’t going to end well. When they got to where ever they were headed, they were likely to be killed because they knew too much. This is how most of these situations ended. And it wasn’t fair. For seven years, she’d battled the Kazon, Vidiians, the Borg, and Species 8472 only to die at the hand of some Klingon wanting an old dagger as soon as they got back home. She wanted to see her mother and sister and not to mention Chakotay again.

 

As soon as the Andorian left, she slumped against the wall and slid to the ground, exhausted physically and mentally. She groaned, rubbing her shoulder and closing her good eye.

 

Tabor sat down after the captain did. He watched her closely. He’d rarely dealt with Voyager’s CO except for when she’d ordered the Doctor to use Crell Moset’s research to help B’Elanna a couple of years ago. At the time, he was very angry with her but eventually came to realize that the ship needed B’Elanna alive and the captain had been doing what she thought was best for all of them. “Captain?”

 

She pinched her nose but regretted it because she touched her swollen left eye. She winced. “I’m not asleep, just resting.”

 

“Yes, Captain.” The corner of Nil’s lips twitched. He’d wanted to laugh aloud and had even been tempted to say ‘sure’ but in deference to her rank he didn’t.

 

She smiled weakly. Maybe she’ll ask the Doctor for the definitive answer on whether keeping someone awake was the correct first aid procedure for concussion.

 

“Captain, what’s this all about?” Nil wanted to keep her talking. He might as well find out why a Klingon had stunned them and held them hostage.

 

Kathryn had no idea what was going on but told him all that she knew which wasn’t all that much.

 

~~*~~

 

Denel followed Toral to his leader’s cabin. In Denel’s pocket, his own scanner was analysed the taj as they walked. Once inside, Toral prattled on about his plans for the restoration of his House and all the power he would have in a few days. Denel wasn’t interested in any of his delusions.

 

“How soon will we get to Qo’noS?” Toral asked his deputy.

 

“At present speed, two days.”

 

“Tral has assured us we can’t be followed with the upgraded Romulan clocking device we have on board.” Toral’s confidence grew with every passing minute. He had lured the escort ship away from Voyager and after a minor hiccup taken possession of the qIrom taj. Tral’s promises of how good his ship, the Dawn Raider, hadn’t been exaggerated. It would take hours before Voyager could do anything and they wouldn’t contact Starfleet to protect their captain and the ensign. Finally, his fortunes were changing. “I need to work on my speech to the High Council.”

 

Denel left him alone, having no desire to pander anymore to Toral’s whims than was absolutely necessary to get the job done. He had to gain possession of the blade and leave or blow up the ship before it reached the Klingon home world. It wouldn’t mean just civil war if any particular House obtained the real relic. It would mean the destruction of the Empire.

 

As he approached the access hatch on the third level of the small ship, he looked at the scanner’s report on the dagger and it confirmed the knife’s identity. He adjusted his scanner to let out a bioelectric disruption field that would mask his entry into the access tunnel. Safe in the knowledge that he wouldn’t be detected, he crawled along the tunnel until he reached the main power switching relay. He carefully opened the access panel and planted the small device in between the relays. It would be undetectable unless an engineer actually saw it.

 

This was his back up plan should his main plan fail.

 

He crawled back out of the tunnel and continued to play the dutiful ally, biding his time. 

 

~~*~~

 

CHAPTER 5

 

B’Elanna handed the last repaired relay board to Ensign Lillee. “Make sure you seat it correctly.” She twinged when she handed him the board. She was still having uncomfortable post-partum contractions. She’d been sitting repairing the circuit boards for just over an hour but it felt longer. She was tired, sore and her breasts were painfully swollen. Miral would want a feed soon and not a moment too soon, she thought her breasts might explode.

 

“Yes, ma’am.” Lillee took the board and crawled along Jeffries tube until he came to the external sensor control processor. Tony had already prepared the connections. As instructed, he matched up the circuits perfectly before slotting the board in. One final adjustment with the hyper-spanner ensured they were stable. He double checked using his engineering tricorder and smiled as it was now working.

 

He closed the processor hatch, gathered all his tools, and crawled back out to the corridor. “All done, Lieutenant, it checks out.”

 

“Well done, Dennis and Tony.” B’Elanna thanked her eager young ensigns before contacting Chakotay to tell him the good news. “B’Elanna to Chakotay.”

 

“Go ahead, B’Elanna.”

 

“You should have external sensors now.”

 

Harry to reinitialize his board. They’re running at eighty percent.”

 

“Good job, B’Elanna. Start scanning, Harry.”

 

“I’m going to feed Miral then have a sleep. If you need me again, just come and get me.”

 

“All right, B’E. Thank you.  Chakotay out.”

 

~~*~~

 

“Chakotay to Seven.” Chakotay hoped that Seven would have some good news after efficiently getting the enhanced sensors in Astrometrics operational as soon as the main sensor array came back on line.

 

“Seven here. One moment, Commander. The data you are about to request is coming through now.”  The sensors identified only two vessels within the surrounding sectors of space. “The USS Dundas and the MVS Audrey are the only two ships close to our location. There are no other warp trails.”

 

Chakotay knew that the Dundas had gone to the rescue of the Audrey after it developed engine failure. The kidnapper’s vessel had to be cloaked. “Seven, scan for cloaked ships.”

 

“Yes, Commander. Seven out.”

 

The scan could take a while. “Tuvok, ship’s status?” Chakotay wanted to know what they could do when eventually they got under way.

 

“Warp drive is functional to a top speed of warp 8.7. Shields are fully operational. Forward phaser banks are charged and ready. Aft phaser banks and tubes have been destroyed. There are twenty-two torpedoes left. All hull breaches have been repaired.”

 

“Thank you, Tuvok.” Chakotay was relieved. Voyager could now safely travel at warp. Voyager was now able to go after Kathryn and Tabor. He hoped they would only face one ship. If they had to face more than one, their vulnerable stern could be a problem.

 

Waiting for Seven’s report, Chakotay read the report on the Knife of Kirom. It was shrouded in mystery although they didn’t say all that much. Only that it was the knife that mortally wounded Kahless. The entries regarding the knife varied from the mystical to the ridiculous. It sounded like the Holy Grail from Earth’s Christian history. There were stories of the holder having unlimited power and even immortality.

 

He wondered why Captain Kohlar had such an important relic in the first place. He didn’t even know that Kathryn had the knife and maybe Kohlar didn’t tell Kathryn its true significance. It was all very mysterious.

 

One of the stories said that the knife did provide ‘protection’ from your enemies. Like most ancient stories, there were only vague references to ‘against the odds’ or ‘horribly outnumbered but were victorious’ battles won but when he thought about it, it had seemed to provide the Kotar some protection. They’d travelled over thirty thousand light years with very little damage for over a hundred years. The Kotar had still been functional before they’d blown it up in attempt to get closer to the kuvah'magh.   

 

Had the knife afforded Kathryn or Voyager ‘protection’ in the time that it was in their possession? He couldn’t say one way or the other. They’d had some awful things happen to them since she had it. Top on the list was Joe Carey’s murder along with almost all the crew being shanghaied on Quarra. On the other hand, they’d come out of several fierce battles relatively unscathed including their last one with the Borg. He smiled to himself. Perhaps some of it had rubbed off on him as he considered himself very lucky when he and Seven had survived yet another shuttle crash on Ledos.

 

Marla had seen two Klingons on board the ship with the one called Toral appearing to be in charge. Even if the stories weren’t true, having such a relic could be used for political gain. He knew little about the present state of Klingon politics but it had a history of being volatile. Any one with a legitimate reason could challenge the reigning Chancellor. Klingons would rally behind a man who had the sacred relic in his possession.

 

He accessed the database on a Klingon named Toral and Denel. There was nothing on Denel. Although there were several men named Toral, one stood out. A Toral from the disgraced House of Duras and this appeared to be his third try to grab power. Shaking his head, he wondered how Toral was even alive. He’d always thought the Klingons were less than forgiving about transgressions such as he’d committed. Twice Lieutenant Worf of the USS  Enterprise had saved Toral’s life. He’d read enough.

 

He decided he wasn’t going to wait for Seven’s scans to finish. He thought the ship would be heading for Qo’noS. “Ensign Blinman, set a course for the Qo’noS, maximum speed.”

 

“Aye, Sir. Course entered, warp 8.7.”

 

“Engage.” Pre-empting Tuvok’s obvious questions about what he was doing. “Mr Tuvok, please join me in the ready room. Mr Rollins, you have the bridge.”

 

“Yes, Commander,” Both men replied together.

 

 

 

“Tuvok, it’s Toral from the House of Duras.” Chakotay waited until the doors to the ready room had closed.

 

“Duras?” Tuvok’s eyebrow moved upward. He was familiar with the family history.

 

“It has to be. Marla overheard them using their names.” It was a basic error, perhaps it indicated overconfidence. A skilled kidnapper wouldn’t say names or anything that could be used to identify them.

 

“The Klingons will need to be notified.”

 

Chakotay ran his hand through his hair, mulling over the problem for a few seconds and then the answer came to him. Kathryn and Tabor had been threatened if Voyager contacted Starfleet, by subspace that is, where the enemy ship could detect their message. They’d use a different way. “We can leave a communication buoy here for the Dundas and then they can pass on the information to Starfleet. The cloaked ship won’t know.”

 

“Very good, Sir. I will prepare the probe.”

 

“Dismissed.” Chakotay watched as Tuvok left the ready room. He couldn’t bear to be in here for too long. It was Kathryn’s room, it felt and smelt like her and it was almost too much for him. Only a couple of hours ago in this very room, she’d made him a very happy man and now he could lose her forever.

 

He walked back onto the command deck. On the bridge, he wouldn’t sit in the centre command seat either but out here he was among people who needed him just as much as he needed them. They’d help each other just as they had for the last seven years.

 

“Sir, the probe is ready.” Tuvok had loaded all the relevant logs and all their plans on to the communication relay buoy.

 

“Launch it, Tuvok.”

 

“Probe is launched, Commander.” Tuvok checked the readouts. “The probe’s telemetry is stable. It will reach the rendezvous coordinates in approximately ten minutes.”

 

“Seven to Chakotay.”

 

“Chakotay here, Seven.”

 

“I have been unable to detect any warp trail or particle waves indicating a cloaking device.” Seven was not used to failure. She’d tried everything she knew but had failed. Commander Chakotay was relying on her. The captain was in danger. She was unsure how to react. “I am so…”

 

“It’s all right, Seven. Keep scanning. I’ll have Icheb join you to assist you.” It wasn’t that surprising. They’d been away for seven years and were seven years out of date. Admiral Janeway’s improvements were mainly defensive, improved shields and ablative armour but not sensor technology. He wished they had more time to study the admiral’s ship. They could have used the technology.

 

“Thank you, Commander.”

 

“Chakotay out.”

 

~~*~~

 

Kathryn thought that they’d been sitting in the cargo bay for five or six hours. They’d been left completely alone. Kathryn spent the first thirty minutes looking for an access point in the wall of the cargo bay but there were none.

 

The rest of the time, Tabor had been watching her closely, keeping her talking. She could tell that he took his job very seriously and didn’t want to answer to Chakotay when they got back if anything happened to the captain. Kathryn had to smile. She didn’t think the crew were scared of her at all. They were more afraid of Chakotay. He’d put the fear of their particular God into them more than she ever did. On Away missions, he must have told the crew what would happen to them if something happened to the captain. She smirked.

 

With nothing more to do than sit and wait, all Kathryn wanted to do was close her good eye and sleep. Her headache hadn’t gotten any better. If anything, it had gotten worse. The increasing nausea and her vision in her good eye blurring occasionally weren’t good signs.

 

Tabor could tell that his captain was suffering. When she did respond, it took some time and effort, her speech slurred and sometimes stumbling over her words. He felt helpless. There was nothing he could do except keeping her awake. “Captain?”

 

Kathryn’s arms wrapped around her belly as her stomach lurched. She felt the gases rise and as she stifled a burp. She knew she would eventually lose her lunch soon and vomit all over the cargo bay deck.

 

The door to the cargo bay swished open. Denel walked in.

 

Nil had heard the captain try to hold back a burp. She didn’t look good at all. She was a deathly pale grey and sweating. He had enough experience of people suffering bad concussions. She needed medical treatment or her condition could deteriorate. He hoped that he could appeal to the Klingon. It didn’t make any sense for them to lose a hostage of the captain’s stature. It was in their best interest to make sure she was all right. Nil stood up, pleading his captain’s case. “Please, Sir. My captain needs medical attention.”

 

Denel looked at the woman as she struggled to get up. She got as far as kneeling on one knee, holding onto the wall to keep upright. He was here to check on them because Toral was too wrapped up in his own little world to even care about his hostages. The captain didn’t look well, she looked very pale, and she was sweating. He wasn’t here to see innocent people get hurt. Denel nodded to the Bajoran then went to the medical locker.

 

“Captain, sit down.” Denel turned off the force field.

 

Kathryn was in no condition to protest, waves of nausea and pain prevented her from doing anything else. Gasping, she slumped back against the wall; just the effort of trying to get up had exhausted her.

 

Denel knelt down next to the woman, and then scanned her. The tricorder told him how to treat her severe concussion. He injected the pain medication and waved the probe to reduce the building cranial pressure.

 

“Thank you.” Kathryn was grateful. Her headache and nausea lessened considerably. For the first time she felt almost human but she wondered how long that would last.

 

He waved the dermal regenerator to seal the cut on her forehead and it removed most of the bruising around her eye as well. Denel packed up the medical kit. He looked at the human and Bajoran. They had a dignity about them, remaining calm in the face of Toral’s threats and bluster. Toral thought that her agreeing to do what he wanted was an act of submission but Denel knew better. She had protected her subordinates in spite of losing face to her adversary. He could also tell that she was finding out as much as she could and looking for a way to escape.

 

“Captain, come with me.”

 

Standing up, Kathryn looked at him suspiciously. What was happening now? She looked at Tabor, who looked worried as well.

 

“To the head, Captain.” Denel pointed to a door to the side of the cargo bay.

 

Kathryn relaxed and followed him to the head. In the bathroom, she took advantage of the privacy and washed her face, removing most of the dried blood. Her face was still bruised but now she could see out of her left eye and her shoulder was still stiff but at least the burning sensation had gone.

 

After taking Tabor to the bathroom, Denel provided them with a ration bar and a bottle of water then reset the force field. Without another word, Denel left them in the cargo bay.

 

~~*~~

 

On USS Dundas, returning to where they’d left Voyager.

 

Lieutenant Commander Blackwell checked her board. USS Voyager wasn’t on long-range sensors. They were heavily damaged and sensors weren’t functioning so they shouldn’t be able to move. She ran a quick diagnostic on the sensors that showed the sensors were functioning normally.

 

She then ran a more detailed scan. At Voyager’s supposed location, the scan indicated an old style comm. buoy. It must have belonged to Voyager. Since the Dominion War, they now used a cloaked version of the buoy now. “Captain, Voyager is not at their last known position and I’ve picked up an old style comm. buoy.”

 

“Alex, anything else out there?” Captain Karen Rolton tugged her ear lobe. Voyager was used to being alone. Maybe they decided to continue on to Earth by themselves.

 

“No, Sir.”

 

“Can you access the buoy, Glenn?”

 

Glenn McGrath, the Operations officer, checked the schematics of the marker. The code used was seven years old but the coding algorithms were still in the database. “Yes, Sir.”

 

“Do it.”

 

“On it, Sir.” There was only one file to decode. Glenn was expecting a message from Captain Janeway but there wasn’t. It was a message from Lieutenant Commander Tuvok, the tactical officer. He had no idea what that meant. “There is one file, from the tactical officer.”

 

“Put it through to my console.” Karen waited. Her screen flashed and then opened the file. She read the report twice, not quite believing it. She still didn’t. It was unbelievable. “Glenn, get me Starfleet. Now! Helm, set a course for the Klingon home world, maximum warp. Engage when ready.”

 

“Yes, Sir.” Both Glenn and Davidson at the helm, replied in unison.

 

The captain realized that they’d eventually catch up to Voyager but as they were already eight hours behind and the Dundas’ maximum warp speed was only just fraction faster than the speed that Voyager had said it was travelling to Qo’noS, it could take all the trip to the Klingon home world to overtake Voyager.

 

There were two starbases between Sol and the Klingon Empire but as they were well away from the usual trade routes there was a great deal of empty space between them and Klingon territory. Enough space for someone to cross the border virtually undetected, even without a cloak. The Dominion War had depleted the fleet and there just weren’t the ships to cover all of the Federation border.

 

“Captain, there is an incoming subspace message.” Glenn read the prefix information. “It’s Starfleet. Admiral Bradman, head of Operations.”

 

“On screen.” Karen straightened in her chair. “Admiral Bradman.”

 

“What is it, Karen?”

 

“Captain Janeway’s been taken hostage.”

 

“What!”

 

The captain filled the admiral in on what they knew.

 

~~*~~

 

“Toral to Denel.”

 

Growling, Denel had just sat down for his mid watch meal. He stirred the pot of gagh, aggravated at the interruption and that the gagh wasn’t fresh. Some of the worms weren’t moving at all. “Yes, Toral.”

 

“I’ve called in a favour. In a day, we’ll have back up as we enter Klingon space. Three birds of prey will be following us to Qo’noS. When you’re finished eating, come up to the bridge and we’ll go through the new plans.

 

“Yes, Toral.” Denel was shocked. Toral had changed his plans. And that, in turn, changed all of his plans. This complicated everything. Suddenly he’d lost his appetite, pushing aside the half dead gagh. He got up and went to the bridge.

 

As he made the short trip, he went through all the possible scenarios that he could think of.

 

Tral and Toral were standing by the long-range sensor station, analysing the map. Denel stood at the side. He saw the rendezvous point. It was just inside the Klingon border. He listened carefully as Tral and Toral went through the flight plan.

 

Captain Tral was very good, Denel thought. You don’t have a long career as a mercenary with out being good at surviving and improvising. He was tactically aware, telling Toral of the best routes to get to Qo’noS.

 

It would be a pity to kill Tral but Denel realized that he was too dangerous. His crew was well disciplined, running the ship more like a Klingon or Starfleet vessel than what he thought a mercenary ship would be like. It was necessary to dispose of Tral as he might prevent him from getting hold of the knife.

December 2009

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