With the ceremony and introductions over, Kiang began to worry about what he had gotten himself into. The procession of people just to greet Anna, Kynar, and himself took over two standard hours and there were still crew members of The Masamune waiting for their chance to introduce themselves in their over inflated and egotistical manner. And there was still the matter of the creatures from the nebula! “Did they not care?” he wondered to himself as the twattling twit that had approached him a few minutes ago continued to speak to him in a language he could not understand. It was a jibberish of so many languages that the Universal Translator seemed to just give up trying to work.
He dared a look at Kynar, who seemed to be in his element. His eyes scanned the Great Hall looking for Anna and located her by one of the large observatory windows that faced the nebula. He bowed slightly, as he had been instructed, and excused himself from the imbicil’s presence on the pretense that Anna had called for him. With his held high, and mimicking the postures of pompous P’Taghs around him, he purposefully strode to where Anna was standing. As he approached, he felt her smile as she felt him coming up behind her, and he had to marvel at that for a moment. He felt her smile, inside his mind, without even seeing her face, and she felt him approach!
He cleared his throat, as a courtesy, before speaking, “What do I call you now? I was given a long list of how to address everyone else and how they should address me, but they never told me what to call you.”
Anna turned her head slightly to look at Kiang behind her and smiled even more. “Depends on if you want me to slap you in front of everyone else for showing disrespect, or slap you later…” She quickly raised her hands to her lips. “Oh, um,” she fidgeted for a moment to hide her profuse blushing. “I must apologize, my mouth often speaks before my brain. It was a joke and in poor taste. My father would have chastised me for speaking like that if he heard it.” A quick glance around confirmed that her father was indeed not present to have heard it. “When it is just the two of us, you can call me Anna. When others are present T’Lana Dohlman is my proper title and should be used.”
Kiang placed his fist over his chest, bowed slightly, and quickly had to catch his cumbersome wig as it fell off his head. “Anna it is then.” Anna giggled, assisted with righting the wig and Kiang rolled his eyes, “please tell me I didn’t do the wrong sign of respect?” A glance at each other, the ridiculous wig that now refused to stay in place, and they erupted into laughter drawing attention from those around them.
Anna blushed furiously and turned back to the observation window, “Why is it that when something is so beautiful can hold such horrible nightmares?” She asked without really expecting a response. Kiang took a small step towards her as he watched her complexion pale. She looked back at him, eyes wide with fear, and gasped “They are returning! I hear their war screams!” then bolted towards one of the main doors.
It took but a moment longer for Kiang to see a burst of red lighting from within the nebula. Pivoting on a heel, he took after her, hearing her scream in his head “Battle Stations! They have returned!” and seeing all of the guests turn to the observatory window before making their way towards the exits, with great haste. He had to give telepathy credit in that it was a faster alarm than anything he had seen prior in his life. A quick scan showed that Kynar and Dohlma Tor were both headed in the same direction as they were.
The ship shuddered slightly with the impacts of hundreds of small vessels attaching themselves to the ship. Davin Tor motioned for them all to follow him down a less crowded corridor. He quietly hissed at Anna to visualize a bubble of nothingness with them in the center, as he instructed everyone else to grab hands. For a moment, Anna was confused, afraid, and hungry? It was tempting to follow that last thought to each owner, but it came from so many directions at one time that it was disorientating.
She felt Kiang’s hand in hers with a slight tug bringing her back to where they were. She gazed into his eyes and registered his fear, yet his warrior’s strength. She latched onto that strength and began to form a bubble in her mind that was surrounded by that strength. She could feel her father and Kynar’s strength as well and used it to strengthen and expand the bubble walls. Anna closed her eyes to advert seeing one of the creatures appear in the corridor and begin to tear the skeleton from its host. She was too late before she saw the body of S’thara Tobin’s son fall to the ground and its skeleton shambled forward in the eerie green light that filled everywhere. Anna felt the bubble surrounding all of them just as the creature finished and began looking for his next victim.
Then the world became even more surreal, as if it was suspended in time. Everything around them slowed down while they remained constant. Anna’s head slowly turned to her father as he stood staring at her in amazement. “I didn’t think it was possible,” he stammered. “You have us in a single moment of time, just outside the rest of this universe. This isn’t nothingness, this is everything.” They all looked around to see shadows of shadows on shadows of those around them. Each of them appeared to be the same, yet slightly different.
The skeletal creatures stood rooted. At a barely perceptible speed, their heads turned towards them and slowly made motions in the direction of their bubble. “They can still see us, but I think we can move faster than them and make our way to the savendal.” Davin stated with more confidence than he felt. He looked down at his daughter and attempted a feeble smile. “You were always the one to be that little bit extra when younger,” he continued on with unconditional respect and love of his daughter on his face.
Anna saw the confused looks from Kynar and Kiang. “A safe room that can be a self-sustaining life pod for an incredibly long time,” Anna filled in where the translator missed. “Elasian language has many words that do not translate,” she shrugged indifferently, indicating it was just something everyone had to learn to deal with and adjusted her hand positioning with the others to begin their walk down the corridor. The men placed her at the center of their procession. All three of them agreed without saying a word that Anna was the most valuable possession. Kiang ensured that Anna’s fingers were securely interlaced in his. He had just found her and was trusting his warrior instincts to keep her with him.
Painfully, they made their way down the long corridor. Davin projected the layout of the ship into everyone’s mind, where they were, where they needed to go, and the quickest route there. They could hear the screams of the skeletal beings in their minds and their bodies ached in their bones. Kiang kept glancing at Anna, oddly, he was intimately aware of the strain this was placing on her. He watched her fair complexion drain of what little color she had, till the snows of Rura Penthe seemed more vivid in coloring. As they were nearing the final corridor, he dropped his hold on Davin to catch Anna just as she lost consciousness and they were slammed from all fronts with the realities of what was happening across the entire ship. His mind began to hear the echoes of the screams in his ears, as skeletal structures were forcibly removed from their host flesh bags, causing blood to redecorate the walls of The Masamune in all the hues of the former hosts’ bloody colors. Davin was powerless as he felt his daughter’s bubble crumple before seeing Kiang swiftly secure her in his arms, cradled to his chest, concern written across his Klingon features. For a brief moment, he saw the fortitude of Sompek in Kiang's presence and for an even smaller moment, Davin recognized one of his ancestors.
A knowing look between the two Klingons happened, as Kynar pulled his Bat'leth to the ready. “Go! Save her. Save our future!” Kynar yelled as he dove into the foray before them, indiscriminately cutting a path of anyone or anything in between them and their destination. Davin grabbed Kiang by the elbow to show him the way and attempted to create a bubble of “nothingness” around them. He failed. He spent most of his energy redirecting the telepathic onslaught of the creatures away from them.
“They are temporal creatures. Overload the temporal drive into the nebula.” Anna hoarsely whispered into Kiang’s ear before losing consciousness again. The two men looked briefly at her before continuing their original quest.
“Take her in here and stay in here no matter what,” Davin commanded when they reached the savendal pod door. “Once the door closes, engage the temporal cloak…. the round green button on the left of the main counsel. Open this door for no one!” Davin shoved Kiang through the doorway. “Come, Kynar, we have a ship to blow up.”
It took a moment for the lights to flicker on, after the door closed behind him, and the main counsel to power up. Kiang carefully set Anna on the floor and smacked the aforementioned green button. The initial shock of being artificially displaced in time was nauseating, causing all of the food consumed in the past several hours to violently erupt from Kiang’s stomach. He dared a glance at Anna to see her now sitting up and alert, eyes beginning to tear. He wanted nothing more in that moment to hold her as the realization that her father would not be returning hit her harder than the skeletal creatures futilely scraping at the outside of the door. He watched her mouth silently move as she cried “no” over and over. Anna forced herself to crawl to the main counsel and began to bring up ship schematics and system outputs. Kiang felt a new level of respect for her as she deftly thumbed open doorways and illuminated crawl spaces for her father and Kynar as they made their way to Engineering. Tears poured unchecked down her face, as her hands stayed one step ahead of their advance.
Kiang lost all concept of time, as he forced himself to focus on the screen in front of them. Bearing witness to the number of times that Kynar’s blade was a moment faster than the creature’s attempts to acquire their skeletal remains. As they entered main engineering, the horror that awaited them was dulled only by the appearance of two figures in black. In his mind, he heard, “Go, our queen. You gave us a new purpose. We will bear witness. No more will die alone.” They crossed their arms in front of them, bowed, and surrounded Kynar in a golden glow. Their actions were followed by Anna’s screams.
Everything after that happened so fast that Kiang did not know the full sequence or if he was even witnessing them in chronological order. He felt the floor shudder, as they separated from the main ship. He watched as Davin toggled multiple switches at several consoles, appearing in multiple places of the room all at the same time. An elderly man entered his blue pod in the middle of the savendal, nodded at Kiang, then disappeared as Kynar valiantly fought the skeletal creatures attempting to enter engineering, while at the same time shoving an unconscious Davin into a blue pod of some sort that suddenly appeared. As The Masamune blasted towards the nebula and the screams of the occupants suddenly ceased in blinding light as the Shadira Nebula collapsed in on itself. The blue pod door opened in the middle of the savendal, Dohlma Davin Tor was gently deposited by an elderly humanoid man, who crossed the floor to engage the switches that ejected the savendal from The Masamune. He briefly placed his hands on Anna’s shoulders to look her square in the eyes and wiped the tears from her face before gently kissing her forehead. Kiang could not hear what he said to her, as he helped her to her feet and to a chair by the counsel, her hands began flying over the controls.
For a moment in time, Kiang’s world went black and he was back on Praxis, in the Qo’nos System. He watched as his mother was murdered in front of him, by his father. His father came over and picked him up, Kiang briefly saw their bloodied reflections in the mirror - his larger than life father and him as an infant. A moment later, his father walked into the same blue pod and then they walked out of it on Qo’nos. The elderly human was standing at a center control panel in the blue pod that was smaller on the outside and nodded at Kiang before disappearing.