“Captain! There has been an unauthorized transport out of Xenobiology Lab!” Lieutenant Dieter exclaimed as alarms sounded and his display panel lit up. “Ensign Tor is no longer showing on board the USS Benjamin Franklin, Sir!” His grey Antikan fur bristled at the thought of the security breach, but also his friend was now missing and possibly in grave danger.
Captain DePalma stood faster than intended and barked out, “Red alert. Take us out of warp and raise shields!”
Commander Riker also jumped from his seat, eyes wide, and sprinted to the turbo lift. His heart was pounding wildly and out of control in his throat. He shouted in a commanding roar, “Security you’re with me!” Lieutenant Dieter and two others followed Commander Riker into the turbo lift. Just before the door closed, Captain DePalma could see that they were all visibly pale and distressed in spite of the Tamalian Bloom pheromone inhibitor permeating the ship.
“Captain, picking up faint ion readings off the starboard bow.” Ensign Hacker announced from his position at the helm.
“On view screen!” Captain DePalma snapped his command a bit harsher than intended, knowing full well that if there was a cloaked ship out there nothing would be on the screen.
The stench of a musky Klingon ship filled Anna’s nose as she began to gain consciousness. Her hands were bound behind her and the bed was hard underneath her face. Her stomach lurched with the onslaught of raw and hostile emotions assailing her sixth senses. Inwardly she groaned at how hard being an Empath Level-4 and Telepath Level-2 was. Doctor Klaban had gone to great lengths to reduce her to these levels, but now that she was away from The Franklin, internally hearing and feeling everything was a harsh hangover. Klingons are raw and unguarded in their thoughts. She discovered that the last time she was around them, as she found herself behaving more and more like a Klingon. It was at moments like this when she regretted not being truthful with Elas Prime Command on how quickly her abilities were developing. The passing thought that K’Tuatha could help her better understand and control her innate abilities in the future was transferred to her mind in order to silence all the minds around her.
“Tl’hutlh!” was commanded by a gruff male voice as a warm cup of Klingon Blood Wine was pressed against Anna’s lips. “Vut the pa’ mevyap” was stated at her as rough hands pulled her up to a sitting position and the cup was once against thrust against her lips. Anna dared to reach out with her mind to the male Klingon in front of her that it was now apparent that he held the rank of “Captain”, to offer her complaisance of instructions, and was shocked to find fear permeated his entire being. Anna watched him make a hand gesture to someone behind her and felt the bindings on her wrists be cut off. “Tl’hutlh dah” The Klingon stated again while handing the cup to her, this time a bit more gently.
Anna’s mind began to race. Her immediate thought was to wonder why the Universal Translator was not working. She concentrated to find her Klingon language lessons, from her past, and her brain screamed in pain to inform her of a head wound. Putting a hand to her tender head, she quietly stated, “that’s why it's not working.” She was finally able to determine that their intent was to not cause her further harm or possibly drug her again. It was simply a drink to “calm her nerves”. She took the offered cup more calmly than she felt as her last encounter with Klingons did not go as planned. Egos were bruised and bones were broken, otherwise it had been a glorious discussion of historical accuracies of the Klingon Empire while “visiting” on Kronos with her father nearly fifty years ago.
Another Klingon, much older, entered the room, and glanced at the man in front of Anna, before handing over a hypo spray to her. “Vut J’atlh,” he said to Anna in a very calm manner then indicated for Anna to examine the contents before using on herself. Again, Anna reached out with her mind to understand that this man was a Klingon Healer, a Shaman of sorts before finally downing a drink of the Blood Wine. “Is Maj, lu?” he inquired of her as the alcoholic burn hit the back of her throat like a sweet kiss with the devil himself. She did her best to not cough or sputter, knowing to do so would cause amusement among those around her, but could possibly damage her credit of being a worthy … prisoner??
She looked around and saw that everyone was behaving very relaxed towards her even though they were stressed about something dire. Anna looked down at the hypo spray, then administered it to herself. It took but a moment for her to begin to understand their speaking.
“How do you know she will help us?” One Klingon demanded of the one who had stood before Anna. “She is nothing more than a Pa’Tagh Starfleet Human.” Anna did not need to read minds, or feel emotions, to know that this Klingon was very prejudiced against humans. He was also second in command...
The Elder Klingon raised his hand to silence everyone. He moved to stand next to where Anna was sitting, with a school boy's smile upon his face and his hand upon her shoulder, he introduced her. “Captain Kristagh, I present to you Ambassador T’Lana Dolma K’Tee Tor of Elas.” Anna nodded her head as dignified as she could in acknowledgement of the introductions. “She had once been on Qo'nos when I was a child and displayed an intriguingly high aptitude for the situation we are dealing with.” Anna cocked her head to the left to further study this elder Klingon. “As a matter of fact, she is the one who gave my father, Devon, the scar on his face.” he laughed heartily. “Her skill with a blade matches that of her tongue.” Anna squinted her eyes to finally recognize Kynar of the House Kor.
Her face lighting up, Anna exclaimed “Kynar! My friend, when did you get so old?” She exclaimed while standing to clamp both of her arms with the eldest Klingon and slightly bowed their heads to one another.
“You, My Lady, are as young and beautiful as ever! Say, when will you know,” Kynar rotated his hand several times in front of him struggling to find the right words, “you know, get old??” He finally finished with a grimace and cocked an eyebrow at her.
Anna laughed while responding, “Sometime around my fifth or sixth tǣnth!”
Kynar stopped, looked at her shocked, “You mean you have another four hundred years before you start to age?” The rest of the Klingons stood in silence and sudden awe as they comprehended the age of the Elasian “creature” now sitting in front of them. They openly wondered how many other secrets the Elasian Government kept from Confederation.
“Tell me, Kynar. Why not just send me a subspace message that you needed help? I would have come, old friend.” Anna was now full of questions as to the dawning of why she was present on a Klingon ship and it could only mean there was trouble of the catastrophic kind. “And, please, allow me to contact The Franklin and let them know I am safe and that I will return when the mission is over.”
Captain Kristagh looked skeptical for a moment before he inquired of her, “but you don’t even know why you are here. How certain are you that we have not taken you as a prisoner?”
Anna started to chuckle and was about to answer, in a very undiplomatic fashion, when a gruff young-looking Klingon stepped forward, “I am K’vagh, son of Shivang.” He spoke in an authoritative manner, as if his declaration of lineage gave extra weight to his next words. “If this is truly the K’tee Tor of my father’s tales, then it would be a dangerous notion to hold her against her will and the means of starting an unwanted, very unwinnable war with the Elasians. We are also honor bound to protect the safety of her person by having her here.” After a brief pause and meaningful glance at all present, then back to his Commander, he finally finished while looking in the Captain’s eyes with, “Sir.” The unspoken galactic edict that touching an Elasian without their consent could mean death and they had already violated that once.
Kristagh stood in silence for just a moment, in calculating fashion, before walking over to a comm panel. He commanded his bridge crew to decloak and hail the USS Benjamin Franklin, on behalf of Ambassador Tor. He then strode out of the room, followed by all except Kynar.
Kynar watched them all leave before speaking, “Please accept my apologies, K'Tee. My plan was to contact you and ask, but the High Council is asking for secrecy in this matter.” He paused for a moment before continuing, “Qo'nos, our home world is under invasion by despicable little monsters.” Kynar threw his hands up in frustration. “One of our ship’s visited Pragine 63 and brought back specimens from there that they thought might provide an easy food source for many during the droughts we have been having. Our planet is only getting warmer, and the food sources are becoming more limited to start with.” Kynar paused to dramatically sweep his arm in front of him, “then these monstrosities show up. While being tasty, even when raw, they quickly consumed all of our food stores. They decimated any remaining crops we had planted and destroyed anything not filled with Klingon blood! All the while gaining in their horrific numbers faster than a targ can catch a nap.” With an over exaggerated sigh, he continued, “Nothing is growing on our planet now. We need help from someone with knowledge of Xenobiology and pull with all councils involved.”
Anna paused for a moment to contain a smirk, her eyes started sparkling in a deep Prussian Blue. “Are you referring to Tribleustes ventricosus from Iota Geminorum IV?” She almost snortled and she was having trouble visualizing small balls of fur rolling around the feet of burly Klingons.
Shocked, Kynar placed his hand on her arm and his mind provided freely the imagery of what was occurring on Qo'nos. “You do know of these insidious creatures! You have to help us! K’tee, please!” He pleaded with his hands clasped in front, almost begging for her mercy. “Our eco-system has collapsed! It will be centuries before it will rebound!” Anna used her free hand to cover the grin attempting to plaster itself upon her face as that would be very undiplomatic like and slightly snorted behind it stopping a laugh from erupting as the internal imagery she was getting from Kynar would make for some excellent old time Earth movie “slap-stick” comedy routines. “The KeyStone Cops'' came to mind.
Still trying to not giggle, Anna could only shake her head in affirmation that she would indeed help. “I will be discreet in letting The Franklin know that this is a mission of utmost sensitivity in nature and can not wait for anyone else to take it.”
Kynar visibly relaxed, saluted her with a fist over his heart, and motioned to the door, “Let me show you to the bridge so you can speak with them.”
As they walked onto the bridge, Anna could see the relieved faces of her fellow crew members from The Franklin on the view screen. Clasping her hands in front of her, a pre-agreed upon sign that she was acting as an Ambassador, Anna addressed Captain DePalma. “Captain, the Klingons give their sincerest apologies over the manner in which they have requested my help. There is an urgent matter on Qo'nos that they have asked me to come with them to assist in. If you can, please have Doctor Klaban transfer the data I have collected from the padds on the exam table in my lab.”
Captain DePalma gave a knowing nod before acknowledging that it would be done. “When will we rendezvous to take you to Rigel VII? Remember you have an obligation to be there in three weeks.”
Anna looked at Captain Kristagh, when he spoke up, “We will see to it that she can contact Elas Prime Command to delay her arrival and will deliver her ourselves to Rigel VII… when her task on Qo'nos is complete. Her presence on board our ship will allow to travel there and back.”
Both captain’s locked gazes for several moments, as if exchanging a mental discourse of the situation. DePalma then scrutinized Anna for as long as needed, as Anna reached out across the space to share Kynar’s mental image with Captain DePalma. Stifling his own case of the sudden giggles, and hiding a smirk the best that he could, he finally nodded to her. “We will have your belongings sent over right away. DePalma out.” The screen went black. In her mind, she heard DePalma share with the appropriate bridge crew what was going on and felt their relief along with the humor behind it.
Anna was escorted back to the room she had woken up in, after she was informed that room would now be her quarters for the journey. On the way there, she was given a brief tour of the first Klingon K’tinga class battlecruiser. Her escort saluted her with a fist over his heart and
returned to his duties. As she entered, the sight of K’vagh in her quarters was a bit alarming, which soon turned to amusement as this Maj Mip was tripping over, and dropping, much of her personal belongings and science equipment that was transported over. He was trying his best to attempt a cleaning of the room for such an esteemed guest. Anna could not help but laugh as he picked up the tribble in the stasis tube before dropping it in shock and disgust. He turned at the sound of her musical lilting laugh.
“I, uh,” he stammered out, “I didn't mean to intrude. I was ordered by Kynar to come see to your needs, Ambassador Tor.”
“Thank you, K’vagh. How is your father, Shivang was it? Will I be seeing him once more on Qo'nos?”
K’vagh stopped in shock over her remembering his name. “My father is well. He will expect you for at least one dinner.” K’vagh finally answered with a hesitation. “Ambassador?” He seemed hesitant with his next query.
“Please, feel free to ask anything, K’vagh.” Anna prompted him to continue.
“Are the holos true? Did you really fight seven Klingons over the pronunciation of Sto’va kor?” He looked at her, wide eyed with admiration. “Did you really cut Devon’s eye out and chop my father’s hair off with a single swing of your Bat’leth?” The questions came pouring out of his mouth at an astounding rate. “How did you learn to use a Bat’leth so quickly? You were only on our planet for such a short time, training with our warriors, and we were told that you were just a child among your people. Yet, you look to be the same age as the holo images!” He finally stumbled out, finishing in an audible teenageresk awe over the humanoid woman standing in front of him. As he looked at her, he saw some of her hair was coming out of place and had to quell a sudden urge to push it back where it belonged.
Anna regarded him for a time, contemplating how to best answer, as she recalled the vernacular debate that led to the brawl. Unknowingly, Anna’s had rubbed her shoulder that had been broken that day. Instead of answering, she stepped aside from her door and motioned for him to leave with the same hand. Anna touched his arm, slightly, and whispered the answer as he exited, “Some legends are best left alone.” He stopped for a moment to register shock, before finishing his hasty exit.
She looked about the room to see that the bed had a second mattress placed on it, plus newly replicated bedding in cobalt blue, indicating that their ship ISS K’tinga was being honored with the presence of someone worthy of praise and respect. The extra mattress was a discreet acknowledgment of the need for certain comforts not normally required by Klingons. The trip to Kronos was going to take a week, so she set herself to righting the quarters of her belongings and using the VIP Ward Room as a small lab to continue studying the tribbles all the while wondering, through a pounding headache, how she managed to hit her head.
She discovered that many surfaces had the sheen of being freshly cleaned and shined, for what it was worth, as they stood out prominently in the otherwise dimly light room and was surprised to discover many items that she was used to being able to move about with grav plating holding it in place during battles, were actually bolted to the floor and walls of this ship. An inward groan over having to work with someone else’s notion of “organized” was not helping her need to have specific organization of her working materials. Several banged shins, a few colorful metaphors, stubbed toes, curse words, and additional minor head bumps later, her possessions were in an acceptable configuration.
It did not take much to determine that she had been placed in the VIP Quarters with their Ward Room attached to it as it had the lingering stench of unbathed male Klingon pheromones about it. It was also ripe with spilled blood wine and the floor was stained in many places. “Filthy animals,” came to mind and she quickly suppressed it, knowing that conditions would be better on Qo'nos… she hoped.
To her surprise, new garments in her size, were already in place in the closets and drawers. She regarded the regal blue fabric with the silver colored borders that paid homage to both Klingon sense of style and Elasian Ambassadorial guidelines. The finely detailed in thin threads of StarMetal and embroidering craftsmanship spoke volumes of who did the research in assuring the appropriateness and design. Looking down at her dirty Starfleet jumpsuit uniform, she sighed before shucking it off to be stowed with the rest of her Starfleet Uniforms until she needed them again.
She was unnerved at the inconvenience of having to cross the entire quarters to access the sonic shower. Standing in front of the bathroom door, hands on her hips, hair hanging down, and naked, she eyed it and wondered if there was a power allotment made available to her to use it, when the door to her quarters opened to reveal a Klingon wearing the rank of “commander”. He was obviously embarrassed to have barged in on her, so she stood there, with hands still on her hips, head held high, glaring at him. Daring him to be rude with a piercing gaze from the deepest Cerulean blue eyes he had ever seen.
“My apologies, Ambassador.” the First Officer, Commander Kiang, if she recalled correctly, stammered and attempted to avert his gaze from her nakedness. “I was not aware that you were already occupying these quarters… so fully.” He could feel parts of his body responding with conflicting emotions. “The mistake is mine and I will retrieve missed crew meeting items when it is more, um, convenient.” He forced himself to look at her dirt-stained face that contrasted sharply with the bang on her head beginning to shine in its glory that she had acquired while being moved unconscious from the Transporter room the deck above to the VIP quarters. The wound he accidentally gave her was now standing out glaringly loud compared to the Cormelian paleness of the rest of her skin. “I will see to it the sonic shower is activated for you.” He could feel the waves of anger coming from Anna’s person. “We are not all animals, after all.” He quickly turned on his heel and left, closing the door behind him.
Anna strode over to the door panel to determine if there was a way to allow more privacy, as it was now apparent, she was on a ship of “animals” and not used to Ambassadors being on board and the proximity of the Armory Officer’s Quarters gave no additional security to protecting her person. Finding the symbol for “lock”, she smacked it with all her might, bruising her palm in the process, to turn and see the panel by the bathroom entrance was now glowing active, indicating the sonic shower was powered. Suddenly feeling self-conscious of how small her body truly was compared to the Klingons, she enjoyed every micron of a second in the shower, scrubbing the commander’s wandering gaze out of her mind.
With being an Ambassador, Anna had to endure many things. Meals with her hosts, for example. Hosts that were not always kind to the sensitive digestive needs of Elasians. The first night there was no exception to enduring a meal with Captain Kristagh, Commander Kiang, Kynar and several other officers onboard the ISS K’tinga, the first of its class of battlecruisers. While she kept herself as composed as possible during their barbaric and disgusting displays of food, it was painfully obvious to all that Kiang would rather be elsewhere. He kept finding reasons to leave, only to be thwarted by Captain Kristagh in sending others to do the claimed task. A knowing look between herself and the commander helped confirm her suspicions that he was afraid that she had said something to someone about his transgression earlier that day. She also had forgotten how nauseatingly slimy fresh ‘gagh was and that it was best eaten while still alive.
“Tell me, Ki’tee, or is it, Ahn-na?” Captain Kristagh inquired, intentionally over exaggerating the known pronunciations of her names, with a full mouth of ‘gagh. He gestured with his hand full of ‘gagh, intent on provoking a response from her. “Well, which name do you prefer?” He demanded with a hint of impatience in his voice.
Swallowing her revulsion over a set of people who insisted on speaking with their mouth full and eating with it open, along with the dangerous game the captain was playing. Anna considered her answer while intentionally, and dramatically, finishing the food in her mouth, and daintily wiping the sides of her lips with a makeshift napkin made from the long sleeve of her frock before speaking. “It depends on the capacity in which I am acting. My Terran name, bestowed upon me by my mother on Earth, was Anna Leigh. My Elasian father bestowed K’Tee upon me, meaning “small exalted one”, and Tor is his surname. Most who know me as an individual, call me Anna or K’Tee, depending on their preference of names and ease of pronunciation to their species. You may refer to me as Ambassador Tor, Captain Kristagh.” She looked at him in the eyes waiting to see if he would react negatively to her cold formality.
He grimaced while swallowing his food, “Ah, yes. I suppose you would be right in reminding me that there was an official capacity in which we could have asked for your assistance, as it was recommended by Kynar. Perhaps someday, we will be able to refer to each other as friends.”
Anna cocked her head to the left and downed a fresh handful of ‘gagh, to avoid having to answer. Kynar began to chuckle, “Kristagh, you may have to face her in battle before that can happen. She has the heart of a Klingon Warrior and a temper that would put any Klingon female to shame.” He turned to Commander Kiang and addressed him, “so have you given the Ambassador a personal tour of our fine ship?” he asked with a hearty laugh. Anna kicked him, hard in the shin, under the table and tried to not blush. Kristagh and Kynar both started to laugh heartily at the discomfort of Kiang, as he looked down at his food intently. Anna could see the top of his ears and the largest cranial ridge blush with blood flowing into them and smiled slightly.
“I believe Commander Kiang has seen enough of me for possibly a very long time, thank you, Kynar.” Anna chided while diplomatically hinting at what had previously occurred. It often baffled her why some species were ashamed of their natural form. Everyone was born that way after all.
As the meal finished, the endless cups of blood wine began to flow. Anna worked hard at remaining sober, and failed miserably after her nemesis and weakness of Chech’tluth came out.
Its smoky veil was an excellent disguise to its sweet, icy cool, and dangerously deceptive potency. Anna stared down into her now unknown count of a half-empty cup frowning as the Klingons argued over who would win in a fight. Her mind concluded it might even be more potent than Vulculan Ale. She leaned back in her chair, while flopping her head up to look at Kiang and considered writing a proposal on why it should be banned at all diplomatic functions. Her eyes felt very heavy and those were her last thoughts as the room suddenly got very dark and her head fell forward.