Absolute silence. Her face paled as they came out of warp to find The Benjamin Franklin hanging listlessly in space. Atmosphere venting from multiple places. Nacelles were cold and dark. “Hail them,” was a cold flat command that was uttered with a cold death stare at the screen. She could hear the communications officer attempting to raise them. She turned her seat to glare at the Attack Center. “Dotlh ja.” She requested a status report in perfect Klingon and allowed all of their thoughts to flow freely in and out of her mind.
“Thirty two life signs, warp core is powered down, multiple hull breeches, and their life support system is barely hanging on, Ambassador.” Kiang reported.
She flicked her eyes to the officer standing next to Kiang, and dismissed him from her mind, then turned to M’tret in the Communications Chair. Fear. Much Fear was in his mind, but his body showed calm and readiness. When her mind touched his, he looked up from his counsel at her, and answered, “JoHvi’, their communications array is completely missing from the ship. The Deflector Dish is heavily damaged.” He informed her of what he had found.
She turned her gaze to Captain Kristagh and glared. “Take your men and find out what happened.” She left any further threats hanging in the air, but gave a very descript image into his mind of her ripping his heart out and eating it in front of his crew.
Captain Kristagh skin turned an ashy grey with comprehension that she was not a species to mess with. He stood taller than necessary and saluted with his fist to his chest. “JoHvi’, naDev ra’. I serve and obey.” He bowed, motioned to two guards to follow him. M’Tal stopped before her chair to salute, followed by a second Klingon who also followed Captain Kristagh off the bridge.
She stood from the chair and stepped up into the attack center, “Kiang, scan the area. Let’s see if we can find who did this.” He gladly saluted her, then his fingers flew over the computer panel, seeking the answers to her questions. The remaining crew on the bridge each came before her to salute, with a fist to chest and a slight bowing of the head, and then returned to their duties. Anna felt as if she was going to faint from the high levels of anxiety the crew was giving off that she returned to her chair to wait for more information.
“Dor sho gha! Crazy Woman thinks she can commandeer my ship. ghuy’cha Ptagh!!” Kristagh spit a flurry of epitaphs on his way to the transporter room. Kynar was standing there waiting, with a Starfleet Medic Kit. “Hu’tegh jay’! You too? Is all of my crew willing to follow this… “ he struggled to find the right words, “this child!”
Kynar stood quietly by until Kristagh was through, then spoke softly to him, “Kristagh, my old friend, that child is older than us both and has more experience in leading than we could ever dream of. She is no fool and is loyal to those who serve with her to whatever ends may be.” Krynar stepped onto the transporter pad followed by M’Tal and the other security officer, Durek. All three turned to look at their captain for his obedience to her commands. After a moment, Kynar gave a curt nod for them to be transported over to the bridge of The USS Benjamin Franklin, unsure of what they would find. The transporter officer turned his back to Kristagh leaving him to ponder his fate alone.
Kristagh stood there for a moment, before stoically ascending the steps up onto the transporter pad, holding his head as high as possible even though no one was looking. “laQ.” He stated the command to energize and accepted the current situation over death and dishonor to his entire family. No one disobeys the Elasians and lives. No one.
Kristagh stood for a moment on the bridge and surveyed the damage before letting out a Death Howl like none had heard before as most of The Benjamin Franklin crew died at their post. He went to where Captain DePalma’s remains were and had to control the urge to vomit. His counterpart’s skeleton had been ripped out of his flesh and was obviously missing. Blood had pooled under the captain’s chair and organs lay strewn about the bridge. Kynar was already examining many of the other bridge crew that were killed in the same fashion. He surveyed around and saw phase pistol burns at several locations on the bridge, along with large amounts of blood from the different species that were manning their stations. Bulkheads were down and fires burned. The crew of the USS Benjamin Franklin barely had a chance at surviving based on the amount of destruction and bodily gore everywhere. He watched his crew deftly work their way to the turbo lift, removing debris as they went, trying vainly to get to the thumping sound in hopes it was a survivor.
He thumbed his communicator, with his heart in his throat, praying to Khaless that Ambassador Tor would not hold him personally responsible for this carnage, when M’Tal reached the turbo lift and pried the door open. The screams let out by him as they watched his flesh be ripped apart by green light and his skeleton removed itself from the body was like nothing he had heard or seen before. The sound of flesh ripping open was indescribable to anyone who had never heard such a thing before and would be a sound he would forever haunt his waking and sleeping moments. The now skin bag, organs, and muscle tissue of M’Tal fell to the deck in a pool of thick purple hewed Klingon blood. Kristagh watched the blood flow down the steps. An eerie green light emanated where M’Tal’s heart and brain had once occupied the interior of his skeletal frame. That…. thing which remained let out a piercing sound that ached all the way into his bones and was agonizingly painful. Without further hesitation, Kristagh raised his disruptor and shot the remains of M’Tal, vaporizing them to reveal the revolting skeletal structure of an Antikan in the turbo lift, attempting to claw his way out. A second blast from his disruptor and the skeletal being disintegrated.
“By Khaless! What was that?” Kynar dared to utter the words to the silence that followed.
Kristagh humphed, opened his communicator, and called for additional men with disruptors to beam over. Seven heavily armed Klingons appeared on the bridge in an array of transporter light. Their collective eyes went wide at the scene on the bridge and the remains of M’Tal by the turbo lift. “Set to stun. Shoot anything that moves. If it still moves after that, kill it. Ask questions later. There are thirty-one life signs remaining on this ship. Only Khaless knows how many are still … ”
He was at a loss for words as to describe to his men what had just been witnessed.
Durek stated in a flat tone, “not dead,” and gave a dry look at his captain before dividing the warriors into groups of three. As he neared the turbo lift, the sounds of the un-dead came screeching from decks below. Deck by deck they worked their way through The Benjamin Franklin. The scene from the bridge was repeated elsewhere on the ship. Fires burned unchecked as they worked their way to Engineering. Doctor Kablan was found hiding in a locked medicine vault that had been hastily cleared in Sick Bay, as indicated by medications strewn on the floor. Three other crewmen were found locked in small storage areas. An unconscious Commander Riker that had been stuffed, unceremoniously, into a compartment then sealed, with the remains of two security officers nearby, only identifiable by the color of their uniform. All of the survivors were in acute shock, near catatonic, and now onboard the IKS K’Tinga. Kristagh wondered if he would have been doing them a favor by killing them now versus letting them live with the horrors they had seen. He lost two more of his men to these skeletal creatures before they disintegrated the last one.
The Benjamin Franklin would be salvageable, but the spirits of the deceased would haunt its decks forever. Anna had called for additional ships to assist, with additional crew personnel to repair and staff the near derelict ship. The Vulculan ships: D’kyr and Haakona, were the first to answer the call and took defensive positions between the derelict ship and the nebula. Most of the interior damage was caused by Starfleet issued phase pistols that had apparently been ineffective against stopping the invading species. Multiple hull breeches were caused by the enemy vessels stripping the hull plating when they left.
One hundred and forty-two crew were dead. All agreed this was the immediate emergency over Qo’Nos. The ship’s recordings and sensor logs provided little additional information. Swarms of small ships had attacked The Franklin, several of the small ships attached themselves to the hull, and these skeletal creatures seemed to just walk through the hull. Their ability to pass through materials once on the ship appeared to be a problem in many areas based on the skeletal claws ripping open doors into areas where crew members were. This left everyone to believe it was some sort of short distance transporting mechanism. Security logs showed the skeletal creatures would hold a hand out, where a green energy light would emerge and rip the skeletons out of the flesh of the crew members, where they remained animated and shambled behind their captor to repeat the process with the next victim. Twenty seven hull breeches were recorded along with an initial twenty seven intruders that left with a hundred and thirty five former crew members reanimated skeletons.
Kiang poured over the data to see if there had been any warnings just prior to the incident and discovered a distortion in the nebula that now looked ominous compared to the beautifully intriguing images of just eighteen hours ago. He kept looking at Anna for signs of internal distress as her exterior had turned an icy cool to everyone, with her eyes the color of Tarkalian Ice storms and her skin just as pale. Even her hair seemed to be colored by an ice storm more than its usual fiery self. He could no longer hear her screaming and crying in his mind, he had found himself mentally struggling to "send" her calming thoughts. It was a small blessing however as it had been replaced with anger at the unknown species, it was contagious to all who were near her, and apparently out of his ability to help her with.
She spent her time at the Science Station on The Franklin downloading as much data as she could, glaring at anyone who came within two meters of her person to stay back. One Vulculan Scientist got too close to her and was soon angrily and uncontrollably smashing a computer station next to her. She gave a look of disgust before rendering him unconscious, with a swift and deftly placed punch to the back of his head, and having him removed from the bridge. It was somewhat perplexing to all that her next order involved Empathic and Telepathic abilities of those around her needed to be three or higher, on both scales, plus they needed to have completed training on Elas, or to stay away from her and the bridge. Only some of the Vulculans had completed this training, the rest returned to their ships. None of the Klingons had. Kiang was quietly allowed to stay on the bridge to watch her closely and ensure the safety of her person along with those around her as she was violently angry at everyone and no one.
Everything after the Elasian ship Masamune arrived became organized chaos, with many things happening at once. The floating fortress of doom arrived undetected by sensors and appeared suddenly in the midst of the other ships, looming ominously large compared to any space vessel he had seen before. He remembered his heart beating in his throat at the size of the Masamune filling the damaged view screen, dwarfing everything that was near it, including the nebula. Teams of Elasians just appeared on all four ships that were already present. Two females placed hands on Anna’s elbows, where she visibly relaxed, head hanging down, now unconscious, and was spirited away. To Kiang’s surprise, a male Elasian approached him and he heard in his head that as T’Leth to the Dohlma he would be transported to the Masamune to be briefed on his duties and “gifted” with additional skills. Before being transported, he witnessed Elasians touching the heads of everyone on the bridge and catching them as they fell into unconsciousness, before feeling a gentle touch to his forehead as well. He could only assume that was happening on all vessels.
Kiang awoke on the elaborate Elasian vessel. His Klingon uniform had been modified to have an elaborate design in a luminescent shade of blue he had never seen before woven into the fabric. His head felt as if he had just been on a three day drinking binge. He sat up in a bio bed, cradling his aching head with both hands, and the Elasian male from earlier walked over to him. The smile he had turned to a look of confusion, then of a sudden remembrance, before he spoke out loud, “I am T’legath Moturi. Welcome to The Masamune, T’Leth Kiang. It is very rare that one who is not our own develops the abilities to protect a T’Lana Dohlman. We are quite excited to have you on board.”
Kiang gave him a “you have got to be kidding me” look as fountains of knowledge he had not known before took over every thought for several minutes.
“I do apologize. This is only the second time in my haphara that I have encountered someone who was not of our race, let alone have low to no rating on the E or T scales.” Kiang screwed his eyes up at this middle aged looking man, counting in Elasian in his head to realize he was actually over seven hundred years old. “The headache will soon subside as your neuro pathways will adjust. A S’thara will be assigned to you to help you adjust to the changes in your mental, empathic, and telepathic abilities.” He looked down at the PADD in his hands before continuing, “You will find life very different as an E-5 and T-3.” Kiang just looked at T’legath Moturi as he began to comprehend some of what was occuring.
“So you mean I wasn’t under her spell?” Kiang asked tentatively.
T’legath chuckled, “Oh no, quite the contrary, she was under your, uh spell, as you called it. It takes a strong man to be able to reign in the anger of an Elasian woman and she was...,” he whistled through his teeth, “pretty angry when we arrived.” T’legath regarded the large Klingon sitting in front of him and thought, ‘leave it to T’Lana Dohlman K’Tee to have the ability to be picked by someone not fully of our species. We should have suspected this knowing her mother wasn’t Elasian.’ Out loud he spoke, “The fates have shined upon your destiny for the next hundred years and fifty years, by my calculations, and another twenty for your companion.” He stood to the side briefly to show that Kynar was just regaining consciousness. “Unfortunately, his neuro pathways were not compatible.” T’legath gave a brief perplexed look, while looking at his Padd, “Are you aware that you are not fully Klingon? Elasian blood is in your DNA from nine generations ago making you possibly the last descendant of Emperor Sompek.”
Kiang just looked at him as his world went dark and he fell over. Even Klingons have their limit of shocking news.
Anna sat in disbelief, keeping an eye on the very pale Commander Jason Riker, who was still unconscious. His sleep was fitful and wrought with nightmares that she worked to calm and supplement with different visions. Once he woke, he could be trained to do so on his own.
A new T’Leth had chosen her, a Klingon at that! On top of it all, one that she had unexplained feelings for, feelings that she had never encountered previously. All of her former lovers, while she cared deeply for, were just that! Lovers! She could see that would only spell trouble for the future.
Her, Kiang, and Kynar were all being transported to Rigel VII once investigations of the Shedira Bubble Nebula were completed. Anna could no longer hide her true Empathic and Telepathic abilities from the Elasian High Council and Kynar was refusing to give up his position as a self-appointed T’Leth. Her father more than adequately expressed his displeasure, via subspace communication, at her keeping her abilities from him. The Council, he could understand, but he was her father and she should never keep secrets from him, especially ones that could impact her future so drastically. Additional training for her needed to begin immediately as her telepathic screams for help had reached across a thousand light years to the Elas homeword, and her father, long before the subspace communication did. “The Franklin needs help in the Shedira Sector!” was all she had said. Her last official communication with Elas had her still onboard The Benjamin Franklin. Her ratings were officially E-7 and T-7, unheard of for any species, even Elasians, and could be catastrophic in all senses of the word.
A team of Xenobiologists, along with all of her current research on Tribbles, would head to Qo’Nos on the IKS K’Tinga to take care of the infestation there. They were also seeing to K’Vagh’s situation, who was still suffering horribly from her pheromones. Elasian Psy Corps had arrived to assist the crew of the IKS K’Tinga, the few crew members that had come over from D’kyr and Haakona, and the blessed few survivors of the USS Benjamin Franklin in dealing with their nightmares, as the creatures that attacked the USS Benjamin Franklin were telepathic and did more than just rip flesh from bones. They ripped spirits from the being to be supplanted with their own species. There was concern as to whether or not the surviving crew members of The Franklin would ever be whole once again, or if culling them would be the more “human” thing to do. Uncharacteristically reserved in the face of danger, a majority of the Vulculans never came onboard The Franklin and, so they were never exposed to these alien creatures, only to Anna’s wrath. Anna shuddered to think that the recommended course of action was extermination of an entire species they had just discovered.
The door chime sounded and she looked at the chrono to realize that she was not prepared for the Rite of T’lethanta and for Kynar and Kiang to formally assume their roles as her personal guardians and protectors. Kynar could not be dissuaded from his insistence that he was her next T’Leth first and that he should be allowed to travel with her to give guidance and to protect her, with his life if needed. Anna had yet to speak to Kiang to determine how he feels about the situation. Reluctantly she stood and answered the door to find herself face-to-face with her father. After a moment of shock, she closed her eyes, and took a deep breath to steady herself. She was in deep if he was here.