CB5 Questing, an
Ane heavy frigate under Starfleet command was cruising the Klingon
border. Relations with the Klingons had been quiet as of late. To
Captain Taraban, that meant trouble brewing. Klingons are never
quiet for long. However, he certainly didn't wish to be the means of
starting the trouble.
A belly full of
quantum torpedoes did help the matter. The new weapons fit the old
tubes, and had proven effective against the Borg whenever used. He
didn't expect to meet with Borg this far spinward, but you don't like
to take chances. All things considered, this should be a quiet
**Captain, we are
receiving a distress call.**
Visions of a quiet
cruise evaporated like puddles in a Vulcan noon.
**Let us have it
the channel. Didn't anyone send a nice clean distress message any
more? Klingon clattered into the space of the bridge.
C...in Kv'echen o...nto's Pride, we ar...nder heavy attack b...own
foes. Ass...quested. Re...at, thre...ips are attack...quest
assis... ....ride can...and much long...pinward of Sher...ystem,
**Gesilan, ETA to
seconds at warp 9.5.**
**Engage, Sound red
alert, all hands to battle station, arm all weapons.**
sounded through the ship as Ane, others, and bios alike took their
stations, and weapons were armed for the fight.
**Shields at full, all turrets loaded are armed, all queues loaded
and hot, phasers are full power, engineering reports full power.**
**Tactical to my
in 10 seconds.**
dropped into a familiar scene, the three hyenas harried the buffalo,
ahem, that is three smaller ships attacked a much larger one. The
large ship was a Klingon bulk freighter. As ships go they were
slightly smaller than space stations. The smaller ships, well small
is a relative term. Each ship was nearly the size of the Questing
herself. This new ship on the scene was quickly noticed, as two of
the attacking cruisers peeled off the slow freighter to deal with the
class heavy cruisers, stolen IFF signals, as you might suspect.**
computer, engage at will.**
The two ships
didn't wait for a request to join the party, the fired as soon as the
range closed. Phaser hits dug into the Questing's shields.
**Phaser hit to the
front shields, shields at 97% and holding, no damage.** reported
torpedoes at the two cruisers. With a ripple two turrets dumped a
four torpedo barrage on each of the Orion cruisers. Three more times
during the pass the Orions scored hits on the Ane ship.
**Front shields to
96%, minor damage to the port fire control, switching to secondary.**
The torpedoes burst
against the Orions, both ships shuddered under the impact. Questing
knifed between them as they closed, licking each with phasers as they
passed. For a moment each was in the other's cross fire as Questing
fired the stern turrets as well. Once again the Orions where rent
with torpedo impacts. No stern phasers replied to the torpedoes. The
two Orion ships looked worse for the wear. Both were showing
visible damage from the encounter.
A sudden blast from
the direction of the freighter got everyone's attention. The third
Orion blew to flinters. The numerous smaller guns on the big Klingon
ship having taken their deadly toll. The two other ships broke off
their turns to re-engage and limped off under reduced warp power.
**Should I pursue
**Closure would be
pleasing, however, query the Klingon Captain first, he may need
Federation ship Questing
this is Quinto's Pride,
we are stable, get the sons of
**We are free to
pursue Fiealan. Which target looks more likely?**
designation two, or the 'so called' 'Diligence' is leaking air and
their warp bubble looks unstable, TD one, AKA 'Felicity', is moving
at warp 5 and is headed for Rigel.**
'Felicity' first, 'Diligence' is going nowhere fast. Fiealan, were
either one of those ship cherry when we started the battle?**
**No sir, both were
well chewed on.**
merchant, scream for the warriors while beating the mugger to
Gesilan took the
Questing to pursuit mode at warp 7. The gap closed quickly. Taraban
examined the enlarging stern of the damaged Orion.
universal messages of peace and friendship. Tell him that if he
doesn't surrender now, he'll be cooked, then flash frozen.**
**We are getting a
**Put it on.**
Captain Malak Tawus of the Hospital ship Felicity, why did you
attack? We where defending ourselves from that Klingon pirate."
didn't even flick an ear, or close the channel. **Fiealan, two
torpedoes, knock the lying bastard from warp.**
The Captain of the
Orion ship had a moment of total shock before the torpedoes rocked
him to the deck. Questing came out of warp right behind the Orion,
and right on top of her.
**His shields are down Captain. We are within 10 kilometers**
take the bastard, all boarding parties away.**
Forty minutes later
the robot troops were clearing out the few pockets of resistance on
the Orion ship. Malak Tawus, his lip bleeding, was standing before
Taraban in the Questing's lounge.
credulous did you take me to be? A "hospital ship" that
just happens to look, and is armed, just like an Acquisitor Heavy
Cruiser? Really, if you insist on lying, I insist you do a better
job. In any case, you can tell it to the judge.**
The Orion started
to open his mouth, Taraban beat him to it.
**Captain Tawus, do
you want my justice, or Federation justice? Open you mouth now, and
the trial will be over in five minutes.**
Tawus shut his
**Good, take him to
By the time
Questing had the Felicity mopped up, and had rejoined the Quinto's
Pride the Klingon had the Diligence in tow.
do you require assistance?**
"/No, we have
sustained some wounds, but are able and fit enough. Our medical and
engineering crews are doing well what needs to be done./"
you wish to accompany me to Starbase 24, I will require log data, a
statements from you and your crew, and any prisoners you have
"/Prisoners? We will handle the pirates in our own way./" The Klingon
thumped his chest.
**Captain, I will
remind you that the attack took place in Federation space. Therefore
under Federation jurisdiction.**
Klingon ship is attacked, Klingon ways are followed./"
Taraban sighed. **Captain Kv'echen, you know that I will have to report
this, and the
bureaucrats will learn of it. This will cause much distasteful
datawork and the questioning of permits, licences, and other things
that bureaucrats love, and no one else does. I know well that your
honor is mighty, and you have indeed been wronged. You have
protested for Honor's sake, but I must insist, for both our sakes.**
The big Klingon
smiled. "/Very well long horned one. I have protested for
Honor's sake. I to wish nothing to do with the pushers of datawork. I
will come over with such of my crew as need to make statements, and
Taraban cut the
channel. **Questing, see to our guests.**
Taraban sighed with
relief. Klingon civilians were much more reasonable over practical
matters. A member of the warrior caste could have argued that matter
for days, if they bothered to take any prisoners. Heck, he had dealt
with warriors that would have argued the matter for days, had a fight
or two over it, then informed you there were no prisoners.
The matter was
quickly settled at Starbase 24. The two damaged Orion ships taken in
custody as well as the crews. Kv'echen demanded, and was granted
prize money for the Orion he took. Interesting holdover from the old
days. Taraban didn't know Klingons still practiced the "prize
rules". It was something to keep in mind.
took leave on the starbase. Starbase 24 was one of the older and
more built up of the starbases. The space port looked like a
collection of space junk. Some modules of the main station where
over 150 years of age, and dated from the treaty of the first Klingon
War. The dirtside facilities would rival many a planetary capital in
size. Since the formal and more or less permanent end of hostilities
with the Klingons they had been regulars at starbase 24.
At the moment
Taraban, and several members of his crew were enjoying a display of
Klingon dance, and avoiding Klingon food and drink. The proprietor
was a reasonable Klingon, and with payment of a cover charge he had
no problem with seating the three Ane to "just watch". He
even offered to get them salads and fruit juice, at a slight premium.
So Taraban, Letilan a torpedo specialist and his current flame, and
Gailan from medical were eating good greens and enjoying the floor
The three women
dancing in almost clothing were worth the look. By Klingon standards
they were knock dead gorgeous. By general humanoid standards they
were good looking. By Taraban's standards they were intoxicating. The
emotions ran strong in their dance, and the dark one was trying
to impress someone in the room with her feral femininity and lustful
desire. Well. It was working, for at least one male in the room.
Taraban decided to
scan the room and find the object of her desire, and distract
himself. A few moments later he found him. A table with five
Klingons seated at it. A older man, and four younger ones, each
declining in age, the youngest barely old enough to enjoy the show. A
family of men out on the town. That might be the reason for the
outing. The boy looked barely passed the Klingon equivalent of the
"teens", so this well might be is first "adult"
outing. From the rapt look on his face he was enjoying every minute
The object of the
woman's desire was the second son, if he had the relationships right.
He was flushed with drink, and knew well want she wanted, and looked
ready to comply. That could mean trouble. Taraban warned the girls
of the impending problem. A quick exit would be called for if, make
that when, a fight broke out. Taraban called the waitress over to
pay the bill. It never hurt to see to your host.
Sure enough, the
waitress had just returned the credit PADD, when the second son
lurched to his feet. Drunk as a skunk if the smell was right. He
looked around the room for a suitable challenge. Perhaps because of
comments made by his brother he was looking at the Ane. He staggered
over to their table.
Klingon food not fit for alien bellies!/" He spat.
Taraban looked him
over, stood up. **Klingon food is fit for Klingons, but a pain in
the belly for ungulates.**
"/Koog./" It was the older man speaking, tired reason in his voice.
is no honor in it. Come, have more blood wine./"
The second son,
Koog was turning back toward his own table when his older brother
honor in challenging herbivores./" His tone was condescending.
The older man gave
him a sharp look.
tongue or lose it./" He whispered. Only an Ane's sharp hearing
could have picked it up from the Ane table.
Taraban sighed, the
older brother had hit the right cord, Koog turned back to the Ane's
challenge where I will, and find honor in it!/" He could barely
"Get up beast
(he was up) your diet offends my honor!"
By this point the
music had stopped, and the dancers were watching with interest, and
more than a little blood lust. If sexual energy was not to be
released in lust, it would be spent in blood.
warned the girls. **Alright, I'll try and turn this on the
instigator, support me.**
They too stood. By
this point everyone in the room, some 30 Klingons and a smattering of
other races, was standing and fingering melee weapons. An outright
brawl would be bloody and destructive.
Taraban spoke to
the older brother. **Ga'fer, does the older sibling allow the
younger to lead?**
"/Why should I
challenge herbivores?/" His tone was droll.
**My ears are
sharp, it was you that objected to my diet, and said as much to your
brother. What kind of honor states a complaint, and allows another
to answer it?**
Taraban could feel
Ga'fer's envy and jealousy of Koog, but not the reason. He took a
guess and pushed a little harder.
**Perhaps you are
less than competent as a warrior. Would that be reason to be set
aside in favor of your brother?**
For a beat, Koog's
face dropped in surprise, as did the older man's. Ga'fer burst in
anger and leaped screaming at the Ane knife in hand. Conveniently no
Ane was present when he landed. Cat quick Ga'fer was back on his
feet, and looking around. The Ane were on the other side of the
room, his father between him and them. He charged, right into the
old man's Bat'leth.
Ga'fer came up
short, the point inches from his nose.
The old man
continued. "/He is playing with your mind. You have dragged my
shame before everyone. Your temper, and your inability to properly
use it is the reason you are set aside. We are in Federation
territory you fool. Think for once in your life./" The old
man was livid, one wrong move by Ga'fer, and he would have three
Ga'fer took a deep
breath, looked nervously around, shot a murderous look at the
collected Ane, sheathed his knife and left the bar.
The old man turned
to Taraban. "/Why?/"
"/Why did you
draw him out?/"
**You would rather
I do his bidding and humiliate Koog for him? I do not play other's
honor games. Those who try and use me, will find their use turned
back upon them.**
The Old Klingon
Taraban continued. **However, the evening belonged to your youngest if
I am not
**Then let me
rekindle the celebration. Host! blood wine and Gagh for the House of
K'grat. Let the music and dancing continue.**
The rest of the
evening passed without incident. The Ane celebrated the young man's
new manhood with his family. Taraban and the girls teleported back
to the ship. No point in looking for trouble.
Taraban didn't hear
anything more about the bar almost brawl. However he put out a ship
wide alert about Ga'fer. The Klingon might not be able to tell Ane
apart. Something told Taraban he would be spoiling for a fight, any
**Taraban, I am
receiving a visual message.**
teleported to the bridge, and settled into the command pit.
**Lets see it.**
The channel opened
to show a tentacled mess, or what might be taken for a mess. It was
a sphere two feet across with sixteen tentacle arms around the
circumference in two rows. Each arm ended in a further eight fingers
each with four eyes. Taraban sat there in shock. The message
all friends. We find ourselves in great need. Our peace has been
breached, and we are now helpless to stop the breakers of it. We
beseech you, come to our aid all friends that have the means. We are
at the place of three suns, in the 25th arm of the wheel, the 243
circumference. Once again, our peace has been breached, come if you
Taraban lay in his
pit for a few moments gathering his wits. This was the last source
he expected for a distress message. Never mind the source was,
the crew into quarters. We must together go to the All.**
Takal the Vulcan
spacial physicist, I'leesa, Getin, A'fal, and Versal the Deltan quad
serving various functions around the Questing sat together in the
lounge. The rest of the crew, 70 Ane, where sequestered in their
sleeping quarters. It was unusual behavior, and it invited comment.
Takal looked in the
direction of the Ane door. "It is not logical behavior for Ane
to seek privacy."
"I do not
think logic will reveal the answers." Said Getin. "The
auras of those that passed by me were closed, and concerned."
Soft A'fal thought
rather than spoke. **A great concern, yet one they will not reveal
to us I think. They are greatly agitated, or were. That has passed
and I cannot read them anymore. I feel they are everyone in the All. An
Versal flexed his
lithe body in the beanbag. "I tell you, anything that worries
that bunch should worry us. They are about the most unconcerned
people I have ever met. Did I tell you about the time I nearly got
killed in the company of an Ane?"
droll dripped from her tone. "No, you haven't."
"It was, five
years back. I was serving as I am now on an older Unity class ship. We
got blindsided by a rouge Qzin ship. The battle was short and
sweet. The Qzin was space vapor and the Inquisitive
junk. Gazaban, the Ane in question was trapped, one leg crushed
beneath some machinery, and I was stuck in the same compartment. The
compartment in question was small and leaking.
Gazaban told me
that help was on the way. Others were still functioning. However,
it was unknown how long rescue would take. We had a good chance of
asphyxiation, that is if blood loss didn't take him first. He was
that calm about it. `I may die of blood loss before we run out of
air. Is it desirable that I do so quickly? It could improve your
chances of survival.' Just that calm. I sensed the slightest hint
of regret. Yet, I sensed something deeper I couldn't really read."
"It took five
hours to get us free. He was bled white, but survived. Last I saw
him he was regrowing the leg. He expected it to take several years. I
got out with a few abrasions and a story."
but what is the connection?" Asked I'leesa.
"He was not
worried about dying, but what ever this is, it has the lot of them
Takal raised a
eyebrow. "A matter of degree? I have seen that Ane are not
overly concerned by their own imminent death, but might be greatly
concerned by the pain of others. Yet we have no clue what it is this
Versal said. "I
see little future in speculating. We will learn soon enough. Ane
are good friends and lovers. We will not be left in the dark."
Meanwhile in the
sleeping room of the Questing
the Ane gathered. With much
touching and greetings they lay down among each other. Each withdrew
into themselves for the Cleansing.
forth his shock, and examined it with awe, such shock he had never
experienced, it was a wonder. He let it pass to be remembered
latter. He reviewed the pleasures of the night before, he shivered
of the sensual lust of it, and this he let pass. He examined the
emotions of the bar incident, and let them slip. At last he faced
the unknown of the message. This he placed aside with difficulty. At
last he was ready, as were the others. As one they joined in
ecstasy of the moment, elevated their Icons, raised their Aspects,
and addressed themselves to the All.
Said Questings to
the All. **We have received a message of distress from the
Said the All to the
Questings. **Well we know of it for we have each seen it also.**
Said the Distant
Ones to the Federation Ones. **You are much closer, and your ships
faster. Can you reach them in time?**
Said the Federation
Ones to the Distant Ones. **Questionable, as the degree of need was
Said the All to the
All. **In time or not we have geas to go. What we cannot prevent,
we must avenge.**
Said the All to the
All. **Such were the Words given, such was the Promise made. We
have the means, so we must do.**
Said the Few to the
All. **Who shall go?"
Said the Many to
the All. **One alone should not, but many should go as can.**
Said the All to the
All. **This is good, then shall one of each that can go, go?**
Said the All to the
All. **This is good, we shall then meet in the place of three suns,
in the 25th arm of the wheel, the 243 circumference.**
Said the All to the
All. **Then we shall meet, and it shall be good.
Said the Glades to
the All. **We are within rage of the Questing,
we will join
Said the Searchers
to the All. **We also are close by, and will join with Questing.**
Said the All to the
Three Ships. **Well and good, together go. Call forth Taraban.**
Said Taraban to the
All. **I am here, and do listen.**
Said the All to
Taraban. **Go you with Us to the Admiral of Starbase 24 and tell
them that We take back these three ships. CB5 Questing,
For the All has need of them to
keep its Word. Say also with Us to the Klingon Ambassador that We
have need to pass through his lands, and will cause them no other
trouble if they trouble us not.**
Said Taraban to the
All. **So shall We say these words, and such also as are needed. Thus
shall We go before them.**
And the Questings
lowered their Icons, and took again their Aspects. Taraban however
remained within the All, and took himselves before the Admiral of the
"What is going
on in there?" Getin paced. He was young enough to be
impatient. "They have been two hours and even Questing doesn't
Takal sat with her
usual Vulcan patience. "When they come out, we will know."
A'fal, said. "It
is unusual for all of them to be involved in the All this long. I
must admit to a certain curiosity."
pacing, and came to a decision. "Well, standing around and
speculating will not get an answer. I'll knock and ask."
actions to words and trotted from the lounge. He came to a near
stop in front of the door to the Ane's sleeping room to hit the call
button when he remembered it didn't have a call button. About the
time that revelation filtered down he realized the door was open
because of his proximity. He also remembered it didn't have a lock. As
his momentum was propelling him in a buff grey female by the
name of Dfalan was coming out.
**Of course there
is no lock silly, there never has been.**
right. Hey beautiful, what is going on?" Getin could see that
the other Ane where rising, stretching and moving about.
**We have a mission
to a far place. Want to come?**
"Where you go
I'll follow. But what is the mission?"
**There will be a
general briefing when the Captain gets back. He went to talk to the
**We are removing
and the Glade
under fleet command. Our thoughts were plain enough Admiral.**
"I heard you,
I do not however understand it, and what is with the `royal we' all
of a sudden? Taraban you can't do this."
**What is to
understand Admiral Greyson? We are not myself alone. We are the All
speaking. If you examine the fleet agreement under section 1,
chapter 3 paragraph 7 you will see that We the All can call again to
ourselves any ships we man not engaged in emergency duty. This
describes the Questing,
and the Glade.**
"Can I at
least ask what it is all about?"
**You may. It is
about fulfilling a debt owned Admiral Greyson.**
"What debt is
**An agreement made
with the Builders.**
`Builders', who in Hell's name is that?"
**The builders of
the El Nanth rosette Admiral.**
**Three quarters of
a million years old, that is correct.**
anyone like that, what ever they are like, need from anyone else?"
**We do not know
Admiral, that is what we must find out.**
chimed. "Admiral, Ambassador K'rrak to see `the Ane All'?"
thought Greyson, **his makes the day complete. An interview with
'Old Prickly' himself.**
**You're welcome.** Replied All/Taraban, causing the Admiral to start,
and give the Ane
a dirty look.
Ambassador in Jean." He scowled at Taraban. "Your doing I
**We did ask the
Ambassador to attend.**
stalked into the Admiral's office. He was dressed in the finest of
armor and furs, well worn and comfortable. A blaster, much larger
than it needed to be graced his belt along with several knives. He
took in the assembled and struck his best arrogant stance (he had
quite a few).
meaning to this summons? I find it is most inconvenient."
replied. **It was We that called you Ambassador.**
"We? I see
only one." K'rrak sneered. He stalked up to the Ane and looked
him eye to eye. In that moment he "faced" the All in a
stare down. He opened his mouth, closed it, and found a chair. His
hand shook slightly as he griped the chair arm.
"What is it
**We have need to
send three ships through Klingon space. We have called you here to
inform you of this.**
"And if `we'
do not want three ships in Klingon space? What will you do then?" Some
of his former arrogance had already recovered.
**We will send the
K'rrak turned on
the lessor target, Greyson. "What do you have to do with this?"
"Me, nothing. He sprung this on me as well. Where do you think the
three ships are
K'rrak tuned back
on All/Taraban. "What of these three ships? Why must they pass
through Klingon space?"
**We have received
a distress call, it originates on the other side of Klingon space.
Therefore, to reach it, we must pass through Klingon space.**
"You will go
whether we agree or not?"
**Our honor demands
we answer this. Klingons, better than any other understand the needs
K'rrak snorted. "You are a flatterer. Appeal to my sense of Honor. What
benefit to my Honor is in letting you pass?"
**That it will not
be harmed. Should we go, and you have not signaled ahead your
would hurt me, but subject you to attack."
**We do not fear
perhaps. You would be better with escorts."
**Can your escorts
cruise at warp 9.5?**
widened. His shot a look at Greyson, who simply spread his hands.
K'rrak tuned back to All/Taraban.
"So, you will
go, and your ships are too fast to pursue or escort. Have you any
other surprises for the Klingon Empire?"
**There is nothing
surprising about this, your government has access to the technical
readouts on our ships. What is not accessed from lack of desire, is
not our fault.**
"If they have
been accessed, I know nothing of it. I wish to see this wonder ship
of yours. Give me this and I will consider my blessing."
is a day out yet, so there is time. Your request is a reasonable
broke in. "I on the other hand still have a few questions. Just what am
I to do for patrol cruisers while you gallivant across
Admiral, but We have no easy answers for you.**
"And, there is
the matter of Starfleet officers serving aboard your ships."
**If you cannot
release them for 'extended duty', they will be put off here. We will
remind you that we are going into space the Federation has not
It was Greyson's
turn to surprise. "Not exactly. We have a ship out there. We
will see it in about 3 years or so."
were crawling up his ridges, even All/Taraban looked surprised.
first. "Indeed Admiral Greyson, how did you get a ship on the
other side of Klingon space without our knowledge?"
question, I have no good answers." Greyson held up his hands to
stop the counter-reply. "No secrecy Ambassador K'rrak. I only
learned of this myself two days ago. We don't know how they got
where they are. From the brief I got they
don't know how they
got where they are. But there they are 1000 light-years away, give
or take, in a crusty old tub of a Constellation class starship. I
was going to inform you at our monthly meeting. As they will be
three years getting home, if they get home. With the time-scale we
are discussing there was hardly an emergency in informing you."
K'rrak sat back. Grunted in surprise. "Any speculation?" His attitude
changed to one of curiosity.
I have concrete information on. Some subspace anomaly in the area of
what used to be Deep Space 5."
**Used to be?**
"Use to be,
it's gone, they were investigating it when they vanished."
again. "Qu'paha to them then. I will inform the far frontier
to keep an eye out."
**What is the ship
Admiral? If we detect their IFF we can detour and hail them. Bring
them home even. With the three ships we have we can handle their
Captain Jay Hailey commanding."
**Isn't he part of
the `class of 359'?**
K'rrak raised an
eyebrow. "Class of 359?"
Greyson rubbed his
nose. "Rash of promotions after the debacle of Wolf 359. Some
wag called the resulting Captains the `Class of 359', it stuck."
K'rrak had an
endless repertory of grunts, he used another. "Some `wags'
should be shot. It was no battle to name anything after."
**Your tone implies
more than normal regret.**
"I lost two
sons that day. A son and a grandson." The big Klingon deflated
slightly. "My house was lessened by the blow."
**Do not let any
lessen your Honor K'rrak. I was there, I fired on the Borg with
everything the Questing
could give, and they survived to do
**Yes, myself, not
one of ourselves. The Questing
"How much did
you hit them with?"
**Full turrets plus
full queues, we let them have it all, over 300 torpedoes in all. The
Borg shrugged it off.**
K'rrak sat for a
moment, his hands between his knees, his head bowed reliving the news
that his sons were dead with no victory to their Honor.
was no dishonor in losing?"
**It was no battle
that could have been won, even with twice the ships.**
K'rrak rose to his
feet and approached Taraban. He held his hands out, puzzled for a
moment at the lack of shoulders in the usual humanoid place and
settled on the sides of the Ane's neck.
eased somewhat the grief in my heart, and made me once again proud of
my sons. House Kathris is in your debt."
**Then ease our
way. We have no wish to run from, or battle with, Klingons.**
"It shall be
however was not mollified.
Orions have been very active as of late. I cannot afford to have two
frigates vanish from the fleet in such short order."
**We will not leave
you unprotected Admiral. As we speak three of the older Unity class
frigates are being activated. They will be here as quickly as
"What are we
talking, weeks, months?"
"How can you
get a ship out of mothballs in days?"
**You cannot. These vessels have never been truly mothballed. They are
semi-operational level at the El-Nanth space dock. After the Borg
attack upgrading was begun at once. The three ships in question are
among ten that are fleet ready. They lack only crews. Under the
emergency conditions We face, crews will be found, and you will have
three smaller ships to replace the Questing, Glade
"OK, you have
ships, but where do trained crews come from?"
**We have a large
number of retired ship crews available Admiral, they will serve under
"I don't like
it. Slap-dash crews on old tubs do not two modern heavy frigates,
and a heavy cruiser replace."
**They are however,
all We can offer you right now.**
"I just have
one question. How do you manage tricks that Starfleet would get the
budget ax for even trying?"
people pay us for our computers, for our foodstuffs, for use of our
stations, for many things we have done and are doing. We do not need
any of that credit for basic living. Good grass, a sunny patch and
company are all an Ane requires, or really wants. All that which
other worlds spend to clothe, feed, and shelter, we spend on toys,
Greyson shook his
head. K'rrak had a laugh in his eye, that he was doing a Klingonly
job of keeping down.
Greyson spoke at
last. "Fine, abandon me to the Orions. I'll take your three
ships as I can see I am not getting any better. Now if you will
excuse me, I have to figure out how to juggle even less to do more."
K'rrak left Greyson to his problems.
All/Taraban spoke. **Ambassador, come by later, 'I' will show you my
"Is this one
of your 'toys'?"
**In a manner yes. We have had thousands of years without space flight
enjoy it when the technology is available.**
K'rrak striding down the corridor shaking his head, and returned to
In the sleeping
room, Taraban, lowered his Icon, and took again his Aspect. For the
hours before Ambassador K'rrak was to arrive, he slept.
Two hours later the
pulled into Starbase 24. The Glade
of the latest class of Exploratory/multi-use cruisers designed by the
Ane and the latest example of the class. The Planet class ship had a
main hull like a drooping ovoid with engineering in the front half of
the ship. Nacelles are mounted on the ends of a wing that extended
from the bow section. Torpedo turrets were mounted on the top and
the bottom. Phaser arrays at various spots completed the armament. What
made the class unique was the mission hull. It was docked to
the rest of the ship in a manner much like the two parts of the
Galaxy class ships. This mission hull was twice the size of the rest
of the ship. It could be changed out with great ease. Different
modules existed for a variety of missions, from deep space survey to
colony seeding. It could even function as a bulk freighter or a
passenger liner should the need arise. As a warship the Planet
class cruisers wallowed like the whales they were. With the mission
hull attached they looked very much like whales with warp drives
added on. Minus the mission hull they could hold their own as a
frigate. Planet class ships possessed about the fire power of a
Galaxy class ship with slightly better speed, and slightly worse
maneuverability. Fully equipped with general exploration and
science hull as the Glade was, the crew was 300 Ane and other
species. The Planet class, more than the frigates carried a crew of
pleasantries with Glade. A rundown of the mission was not necessary.
The 50 non-Ane crew of the Glade
were engaged in endless
discussion over whether to ask for transfers or to accompany the
"rescue mission" into unknown space. Thus far the majority
were favoring taking the trip. The handful of civilian scientists
were all but frothing at the mouth to go.
viewed the bean bag with slight apprehension. At last deciding that
a graceful decent was nigh unto impossible, he flopped back into the
impressive ship Captain. If makes me wonder. If you can design and
man such impressive warships. Why have you not set out to conquer?/"
**We don't have a
bump on our brain for that is the best answer I can give you.**
amazed. "/You have no desire for the glory of battle, but build
ships that are a pure expression of that desire. I confess, I lust
for this ship. Why do you then make them?/"
people do. Aggressive people, that do seek what they call glory, and
that do seek to conquer and hold. If a peaceful people is to remain
peaceful they must learn war better than the warrior, and
periodically teach them the folly of making war on the peaceful.**
K'rrak, blinked a
time or two, then threw back his head and roared with laughter.
"/You!/" K'rrak was pointing his finger. "/You are the most dangerous
people I have yet to see. I honor you oh non-warrior./" K'rrak
bowed from his seated position, deciding wisely that getting up was
not worth the effort. "/From what I have seen you teach this
**A lesson not well
taught is not well learned. We prefer to teach it as little as
"/It would be
a great honor to share your journey./"
**So, come. We
have ship enough to support you.**
The offer rendered
K'rrak speechless for a moment.
serious in this?/"
**I would not make
the offer if I was not. We are going places that no one from your
people has even gone. Would you like to come?**
would, the chance is one to not be passed up. The only question is
how to arrange it. Duty you understand./"
**As we are passing
through Klingon space, would it not be best that a high ranking
Klingon accompany us?**
K'rrak once again
tossed back his head are roared with laughter. "/You are wise
Captain. Yes, that is the very thing. To no one else could I trust
this duty. I will go./"
**One thing I must
require. You will have to leave your normal body guard behind.**
went up. "/It is too dangerous for Klingon warriors?/"
**Exactly. The ego
and attitude of the average Klingon warrior would get then into a
series of 'incidents' with my crew until the point they found
themselves breathing vacuum. I would not want these deaths weighing
on my conscience. Ane do not tolerate the self important well.**
K'rrak frowned. "/I must consider this. If I lack a bodyguard in
questions will be asked. Questions I cannot afford to have asked. As
interesting as your mission is, I have to live here afterward./"
**I can give you
until 24 hours after the Searcher
docks. We are giving
Starfleet that long to decide about non-Ane Starfleet personnel on
all three ships. Then we sail, with or without a good many people.**
have my answer. I shall work this out./" He paused. "/If
I can find bodyguards that you think are suitable?/"
**Then we will
enough./" K'rrak levered himself back to his feet. "/Until
then Captain Taraban./" K'rrak made his way from the Questing.
Starbase 24 was a
hive of stirred bees. The Starfleet personnel from the Ane ships
were busy recording messages, getting supplies, if possible, of
favored consumables that didn't replicate well or still debating
whether they should even go on what looked like a wild goose chase
across the heart of Klingon space.
27 hours after the Glade
made port the Searcher arrived
also. Her all Ane
crew had no problems to add to the buzzing base, but the time limit
was now set. Stay or leave, in 24 hours the "Builder's
Gar'th and J'mon
sweated under the scrutiny of the elder female Ane. Kalan was giving
them everything she had in terms of psychological stress, and with a
telepath that took new meaning. The two massive Klingon warriors
looked like schoolboys caught in the girl's restroom. The diminutive
Ane glared at them, paced around them. They stood sweat dripping in
the dry heat, wordless, unmoving. Their eyes followed her every
move. At last she broke away from them and joined Taraban and
K'rrak at the other end of the lounge. The two Klingons deflated
slightly, but remained at attention.
K'rrak. I gave them close to my worse, and the kids here are not my
equal. They'll do, or I will know why.**
" I do not
understand these 'tests', I will have to take your word on it. "
Taraban spoke. **You can be assured on her word K'rrak. Kalan is the
best in the
business. I was fortunate to get her as the ship caterer.**
" Caterer? I
do not understand this. Is not a 'caterer' a preparer of food?/"
**The concept does
not translate into words well. While maintenance of the foodstuffs
is part of the Caterer's duties, so is every other aspect of the
crew's needs, physical and spiritual. That is the reason you usually
find older females in the position. Experienced mothers are best at
K'rrak turned to
look Kalan in the eyes. " Yes, you do remind me of my Mother,
and a frightening thought THAT is. " He roared at his own joke.
The two Ane got the
impression of a loving tyrant soundly spanking a young boy with the
broad side of a bat'leth, and they to "laughed" in their
K'rrak got back to
brass tacks. "/Since my body guard is deemed 'suitable', I will
be going with you. There is the matter of foodstuffs. You can eat
greens, I and my men would starve on it./"
Kalan took the
ball. **Bring me the replicator programs for the food you prefer. We
can install them in the replicators we have. I have cleared a ton
each for you and each of your body guards for fresh foods and other
gear. Pick wisely, we may be gone as long as a year, or even more. I am
arranging a few tons more on the Glade.**
Mother./" He said it with a gleam in his eye. He turned back
to Taraban. "/This does concern me. If I gaged your ship
right, you are not a deep space craft./"
**Observant of you.
No, we have an on station duration of 14 months of comfortable
is the saving grace of the mission. Without it
we wouldn't even try. If one ship was going, it would be the Glade.
has five years supplies. With the three ships that
gives us a duration, in the comfortable range of 36 months total. If
we cannot complete the mission in that time, we had best give it
K'rrak turned back
to the two Klingons still standing at attention. He shouted across
to them. "/Gar'th, J'mon, come!/"
The two warriors
trotted over to the Ambassador.
convinced the good Captain and his officer that you are worthy enough
to accompany me on this most important mission./" K'rrak
growled at them as if he was not sure they were worthy enough. "/There
are two things you will keep always in mind. First,
this is not a Klingon ship, and Ane ways are not Klingon ways. You
are in another's house, act thusly. Second, that Captain Taraban is
in command here, I am not. He is the master of the ship, his word is
as Kahless himself./"
The two snapped
back to attention, and said as one. "/We have heard and obey./"
have an understanding. Now, we have less than 14 hours until we
leave. Make yourselves ready. Dismissed./"
The two bodyguards
saluted K'rrak, then Taraban, and departed to the surface.
Taraban commented. **They learn quickly.**
better. Those are my grandsons. And I am proud of them./"
around the depot. Later in the night of his public disgrace he
returned to the low port to find his Father's ship locked against
him. His key no longer worked. Without place, without honor and all
of it taken by a herbivore that he hadn't even touched! Suicide was
out of the question. He didn't think his brothers would give him the
satisfaction of a quick death. Somehow, some way he had to kill
that, thing, and with its hide across his shoulders, return with his
honor intact. For the last several days he had wracked his brain for
a means of getting that cowardly creature to fight him.
Two of the humans
were coming. Ga'fer ducked further behind the crates. They were
dockworkers, talking and making much noise. Security never spoke on
can't be right."
"Look, I have
the work order right in my PADD. Two crates of gagh for loading on
the CB5 Questing."
"But gagh? The four legged critters are herbivores. What would they
"For all I
know they want pets. However, the work order says, 'two crates of
gagh to be loaded,' so we load them."
you hear of they will be running rescue missions to save cattle on
"Dale me boy,
'ours is not to question why,' we just shift the freight. Speaking
of which here they are. Lets get the lifters and shift them to the
The two humans were
on the other side of the very crate Ga'fer was crouched behind. Once he
heard them leave Ga'fer shifted and looked for the labels on
the crate. Yes, "Live Gagh". Revenge could be his.
He quickly opened
the crate and crawled in among the worms. He gasped softly with the
cold. He forgot, Gagh is shipped refrigerated to slow its metabolism
and remove the need for feeding it. No problem, he wouldn't be in
the crate long enough to get that cold.
Soon Jim and Dale
returned with the antigrav lifters. Each took one of the two large
crates and placed it on the transporter. Ga'fer felt the tingles of
the transporter, soon, soon he would have that creature's severed
head in his hands, and the powerful battlecruiser at his command. Once
he proved his superiority over the Captain, the crew would be
his to command.
shipment of the Klingon supplies. The sensor reading on that gagh
was a bit on the funny side. She decided to investigate it as she
worked. Once in static storage, it wasn't going anywhere. A bio
closed the slightly open loading hatch.
Ga'fer heard the
click of the cargo container's latch. NO! He was locked in. The
cold intensified, his mind was getting fuzzy, his actions slower. He
struggled to get free of the worms. Ancestors no, he could not die
this way! Smothered in gagh! His dishonor would be complete. He
felt control of his body slipping from him, gods, no, no... ...in
his last fleeing moments of consciousness he thought. "Father
always said I was a fool who never thought first. I guess, he was
the settings on the stasis fields. The life signs were in perfect
suspension. She smiled to herself. The system has never been tested
on a sentient life form. Ga'fer would be lucky, or not as the case
may, be if he survived.
looked out his office window at the formation of Ane ships leaving
the station under minimal impulse. The two best, two only, heavy
frigates in the sector, and the equivalent of a Galaxy class
starship, gone. In their place a trio of promised old tubs that were
still three days out. What havoc could the Orions wreck in three
days? He feared the outcome.
shifted in the command pit. He was in link with the other two ships.
Captain Halan of the Glade,
and Captain Yralban of the Searcher.
Together with the computer officers, Fiealan of
the Questing, Delalan of the
Glade, and Elathlan of the Searcher
they formed a tight
telepathic network. No
tech communication, subspace or otherwise would be required. Reports
to the All would be made in the usual fashion. Taraban, possessing
the longest tenure in the `pit', was made commander of the flotilla.
The Klingon border
was rapidly approaching. Taraban passed the word down the line.
**All ships Yellow
quickly received. The buoys of the border were passed and gone.
**All ships to warp
factor 9, long cruise mode. On the mark, report when ready.**
The three ships
stretched the space around them even further. Settling in for the
Klingon is a good
language for cursing. It was a fact the K'rrak was well aware of,
but at the moment he was too involved in practicing that art to
derive satisfaction from the possibilities.
"/You son of a
Romulan, I am not asking your 'permission'./" The Ambassador
was livid and flushed. "/I am on important business and I am
passing through this space./"
Two parsecs away
the Commander of Forward Base 14 cursed with equal agitation into the
"/I do not
read Klingon cruisers Ambassador. Those are Federation warships./"
travel as I please Commander. If I feel that Federation ships are
superior for my needs, then so be it. This is a diplomatic mission,
it does not require your interference or aid./"
mission is 'diplomatic', then escorts are required, Ambassador, as
well you should know./"
"/I am all the
escort that is required. Do you doubt my ability to handle the
matter, commander? In any case, your escorts cannot keep pace with
speed I am sending escorts to join you./"
we have already passed the limits of your command while we spoke./"
K"rrak cut the
channel on the fury of the Commander and sat back chucking. "/Lard
A view of an Ane he
had not yet seen popped up on his display.
**Was the encounter
"/Who are you,
and what do you know of this?/" K'rrak was defensive.
am Fiealan, the ship you're riding in Ambassador. I can hardly help
but notice someone using my subspace communications systems.**
K'rrak leaned in
for a closer look at the screen. "/The ship? How can someone
be the ship./"
**It takes much
study and time to become a ship. So, how long have you wanted to
stick it to him?**
'ship'. Very long indeed. He will be a long time living down an
encounter he missed because he was kept talking too long./"
**So Klingons are
not all fight?**
'fight'. That was every bit as serious as facing off with Bat'leth
on the sand of honor. A fight does not have to be physical to injure
are of the opinion that Klingons are all fight, and no reason.**
"/Ha, we fight
yes, but if we did nothing but fight, we would be a brief mark on the
record of failed races./"
quietly. **It is lack of knowledge that fosters many an unnecessary
knowledge did you seek?/"
**We seek all
knowledge Ambassador. What Ane do is remember. It is our belief
that as long as you are remembered, you never truly die. Tell me
about House Kathris, and it shall live forever.**
"/How do you
wish it told?/"
first, then firmly visible before him an image of the ancient Klingon
court appeared. The nobles of a by-gone era, and in the center the
Bloody Throne, and upon it, the first Kahless the Unforgettable.
**Tell me as you
would tell him.**
K'rrak stood to
marvel at the image. "/I looks so real./"
**In times past, an
Ane was given as tribute to Kahless himself. She made good account
of herself, and He allowed that she should live. However, since that
time we have had no record of the Klingon court. These, are her
The big Klingon
stood before the legendary founder. He took a deep breath strode
before the image, thrust out his chest. "/I am K"RRAK
of the House of KARTHRIS! Hear me and know my might and the might of
my house and lineage! This very day I have defeated with words alone
a dog that would call himself the commander of a starbase... ...and in
the 9th year of the Rule of Kahless the Unforgettable, my
Ancestor Karthris slew the killers of his Father, and his Father's
Brothers. This he did in his 12th year, and with his own hands. So
did Kahless grant him lineage and house, and so it has remained to
It was many hours
later. K'rrak sat heavily as the image faded. He was tired, but
happy. Such an opportunity came not even once in most lifetimes. His
food preference and blood wine sparkled into existence on the
table beside him. "It was good. I may never be called before
the Emperor to make such a declaration./" He sat back with his
plate of food and drink. "/I regret that no pictures of
**I may have one.**
**I am thinking. Yes. Look at the wall.**
as before an image constructed itself. The point of view was from
the side of the Throne itself. A party of some kind was in progress.
Fiealan spoke again. **There, third from the left, I remember that
Klingon being named Kathris. This is the 24th year of the Rule of
Kahless. He is the only Klingon in the court with that name.**
"/Amazing. This is the real memory? I am seeing it as it was seen?/"
**Yes, such is our
way and our function.**
K'rrak was animated
again in spite of his fatigue. "/Can you save this in a data
**Yes, as ship's
computer I can do that. I'll make you a holocube. It will take a few
hours to manufacture it.**
"/I have good
reason to have come already./"
**I have one more
would that be?/"
**Tell me about
"/My mother? Why?/"
mothers, there would be no Klingon warriors. Yet, their story is so
seldom told when tales of blood and honor are brought around the
fire. This too must be remembered.**
K'rrak stroked his
beard a moment, and chewed in silence. "/You are very
wise you rememberers. Yes, Mothers are our foundation as much as
Fathers, so it is remembered in the Woman's Song, they too must be
remembered. My Mother died five years ago, she was very old..../" So he
continued for several more hours in the Klingon manner of
telling the tale from end to beginning.
Cleansed herself, and elevated her Icon, raised her Aspect, and
addressed the All.
Said Questing to
the All. **This is the tale of the House Kathris of the Klingons as
told to me by K'rrak of the House Kathris. Also told is the Tale of
Genna the Mother of K'rrak. Let these things be cherished and
As so it was that
the All did cherish and celebrate the memories, and the Tale of the
House Kathris of the Klingons as told by K'rrak of the House Kathris,
and the Tale of Genna the Mother of K'rrak were placed among the
chronicles of the multitudes of the peoples. They where cherished
also with the Tale of Kahless, remembered by Shelan so that the Tale
of the Klingons would continue for as long as time existed.
J'mon circled left
around the Ane one Yargaban by name. They had been sparing for 15
minutes now, and J'mon
had yet to win a throw. Yes, the creature had four legs, yes it out
weighted him two to one, but he was a Klingon,
for something. He would throw this creature yet. So they circled.
Gar'th, urged his brother on.
Several hours later
Gar'th woke to find his Grandfather, his bother and Galan looking
down on him. "/Wa' happened./"
"/Come on you
son of a Orion, show them what a Klingon can do./"
J'mon gasped between moves. "/You're next you Cardassian dog./"
J'mon feinted to
the side, Yargaban didn't budge. Damn that. He lunged, Yargaban
stepped aside. J'mon lashed out with a hand and grabbed a horn. With
J'mon off balance it was easy to pull him off his feet. However, this
time J'mon didn't let go, but dug in and hung on. His
weight pulled Yargaban's head down, his feet shifted for a better
balance. J'mon pulled, balling his mass tighter and getting an arm
under him for purchase. Yargaban staggered and lost his front legs. Not
enough, J'mon wanted him all the way down. He swept at the near
hind leg with his own and Yargaban went down with a meaty thud. Damn,
right on his leg.
Gar'th took in the
sight of the two of them sprawled all over the mat and roared with
looked at him **Well, you have me, and I have you. Shall we
call it a draw?**
J'mon lay a moment
with his leg pinned. If he let go of the horn the Ane would be all
Yargaban. A draw./"
His brother howled
as he hauled himself to his feet.
"/So, let us
see how well you fair oh 'mighty warrior'./"
"/It will be
hard to do worse./"
Gar'th stepped up
to the mat. His brother's opponent was winded and resting.
"/So, which of
you wants a tussle with a REAL Klingon?/"
The little female
that stepped daintily on the mat brought out more gales of laughter.
**Me, take it or
leave it. And the name is Galan, not 'little one'.**
"/Never let it
be said a Klingon refused a challenge./"
Gar'th settled into
a fighters crouch. A feral grin on his face. He motioned her
forward. She leaped, he grabbed, nothing. Then the pile driver
slammed him in the rear. Gar'th sprawled face first into the mat,
his eyes bugged with surprise. This time J'mon was the one laughing.
Gar'th rolled to his feet.
"/I don't know
how you did that, but you are not doing it again./"
She pinned her ears
back. This time he charged, trying his brother's horn move. He
grabbed, nothing. Once again the pile driver kick to the butt. Once
again Gar'th sprawled out on the mat. He got up a little slower this
time. His brother's cackling in his ears.
**Have you learned
respect yet Klingon?**
"/Respect? Why do you
think I do not respect you?/"
He staggered to his
feet. This time he caught her move. She vanished Gar'th whirred
around to catch the pile driver kick right in the groin.
Even the mighty
Klingon warrior has his limits, his eyes rolled back and he curled
into a ball before he even hit the mat. J'mon was not laughing. He
rushed to his fallen brother's side.
Galan stood with a
shocked look, ears straight out.
**I didn't mean to
kick him in the nuts.**
to the gym.** Fiealan broke in.
A'fal and Casalan
shortly rushed in, A'fal quickly ran her medical scanner over the
take us to the surgical bay.*
The two healers and
the Klingon vanished in a transporter sparkle.
Galan took as
serious a tone as she could manage. **Never, call me 'little one'.**
Over the next
several days the two became inseparable. Gar'th told her every tale
he had, twice, and Galan explained as best she could what Ane were.
Rumor even had it they were physically intimate. Gar'th bristled at
the suggestion. Galan said nothing. Sparing continued, and each
learned much of the other's style of fighting. The expected grudge
match never materialized.
The three ships
continued through Klingon space, cruising at warp 9. Station
commanders cursed. Several ships gave chase or attempted intercepts.
K'rrak repeated his "diplomatic mission" excuse more than
once. Near the far borders of the empire they passed within a
light-year of a large mobilized battle fleet. They were sniffed at,
a scout or two feinted in their direction, but the Admiral of that
fleet was after bigger prey.
K'rrak came out of
his quarters seeking Taraban. He found him on the bridge. K'rrak
looked around the small chamber. The shock still bios, the
helm/operations station and the pit. He squatted down by the pit.
"/You do not
go long on pomp do you?/"
**How do you
builds his bridge to project his power. A throne for a chair, the
trappings of the warrior. This is to impress both his fellows and
**No, I can't say
pomp is important to Ane.**
K'rrak took a
second brief look around.
your tactical viewscreen?/"
holoprojector, part telepathic in nature. You have to be in the pit
to really see it.**
"/Ah, I see. We must
**Would you prefer
more comfortable arrangements?** Taraban noting K'rrak's posture.
about my rooms?/"
the Klingon to his suite of rooms. K'rrak had obviously been making
use of the replicators to render a long term stay more comfortable,
or he brought a good deal with him.
"I brought it
with me. Your computer was most helpful."
**Have you taken to
reading minds K'rrak**
concern of a Commander for his ship's resources is universal. I need
not read minds for that./"
**You needed to
battle fleet we passed, could you fight it?/"
**Fight yes. Win,
only of luck was with us, and the commander very stupid. I can
guarantee however it would be a victory he would rue. Are we going
to have to fight it?**
bound at least. The commander is an old foe. He will not give us an
easy way back./"
**All Klingons are
not then so united?**
common foe to Klingons all, deadly enemies will fight side by side. But
like the ancient Greeks of the Humans, when no general threat
looms, we squabble among each other./"
**And there is no
foe strong enough to bind the two of you now.**
"/In essence. We may
have to fight our way back in./"
**First we must get
back to fight our way in. I am holding a Captain's meeting in two
hours. We will meet physically so as to facilitate your attending. We
also will give you a chance to look the Glade over.**
"/We will meet
**Yes, you have two
hours to decide how impressive to look.**
In the end K'rrak
showed up without bodyguards, or weapons, other than a single knife. He
also left the armor in his stateroom.
The meeting took
place in main conference room of the Glade. It was suited to
multi-species meetings. It had a large, round table with a
holoprojector in the center. Taraban brought the meeting to order.
**We are now passed
the Klingon border, and into unknown space. What knowledge can we
dredge up about the area.**
Captain Halan took
over in the role of sciences chief.
**The last reported
contact from this sector was the Rishians.**
Yralban yawned. **That
is real old news.**
Halan said. **However,
it can be dangerous news depending on how much of their
technology is left in the area. We will be passing near their main
sphere of influence.**
"Who are these
'Rishians', and what is their danger?" K'rrak leaned back in
Halan replied. **The
Rishians are an advanced race we last had contact with some
95,000 years ago. Their technology is as far above ours as we are
above stone knives and bone spears. I could give you a brief catalog
of Risian technology that we are aware of, but no understanding of
dangerous to explain?/"
**No.** Said Halan.
**You have to understand something to explain it. Our one encounter
with the Rishians was a total disaster. We never understood them and
I know they made no effort to understand us. Like I said, I can
recite stories, but no hard facts. They... they did us a great deal
again. **Our best bet is avoid all star systems and keep the sensors
on maximum. No encounters are good encounters.**
again. **The question is, will the Rishian allow us to not make
**A very good
question. We will get the answer soon enough.**
passed without incident. No contact, or even attempted contact was
sat down in the pit. The ship was under Fiealan's control alone, and
only the impassive bios remained on the bridge. They where six weeks
into unknown space. The Rishian sphere was behind them, and months
yet to get where they where going.
**Captain, we have
two ships on sensors.**
**What are we
**I don't think
they have scanned us yet.**
**OK, order a
detour around them. I want to avoid contact if at all possible.**
Captain Toff of the
Zantree alliance ship Galffin looked at the quizzical expression on
his sensor officer's face.
"Do you have a
"I, thought I
did. I had a reading on three ships, but it's gone."
where right on the edge of sensor range, and they're gone."
"Could it be
Kliges'chee." The sensor officer made adjustments, and
enhancements to the brief contact record. The blobs formed into more
shapely blobs. One could be seen as larger than the other two.
contacts, I do not think they are Kliges'chee."
"On what do
you base you conclusions?"
"Sir, for one
thing they are moving from the Taboo zone into Kliges'chee space. For
the second I have a velocity reading."
"If they are
Kliges'chee, we are finished. They are moving in excess of Warp 8."
"Let us hope
they are not Kliges'chee, and wish them much trouble on the
Two months out of
Klingon space the Flotilla hit the first trouble. Delalan
reported to all Captains.
**I have multiple
contacts ahead. Readings indicate weapons are being fired.**
Halan replied. **We
certainly want to avoid that.**
Taraban. **Plot a course to avoid the battle.**
All three Helms
replied and the flotilla shifted course.
came back. **Additional units on long range scanners.**
**Can we shift to
broke in. **This will take us further off course.**
**Better a longer
trip than a battle.**
reported again. **Additional units approaching the battle. It is
getting to be a real hornet's nest in there.**
reported once again. **I have two units approaching from astern. We
are getting a hail.**
Taraban sighed. **All
ships red alert.**
Feet pounded though
the flotilla as the three ships came to battle readiness.
right angles to the battle. Open the hail.**
The Alien starship
commander was, what could best be described as a "tentacled
mess." A blob with tentacles and an even dozen eyes, if that is
what they were. The atmosphere was a smoky haze. Shields prevented
a better scan.
"Who are you
and why are you here?"
Taraban, he is direct.
**We are the Ane,
we seek to pass though this space.**
"Who do you
**We are unaware of
the sides, and do not wish to take any, we are on an errand, and wish
only to pass through this space.**
"You are in
Kliges'chee space, and we are at war. You must choose your side."
**This is going to
be difficult without some facts on the matter.**
"What is your
**That I shall not
be hasty. I will not declare a `side', until I know what the sides
are, and what they stand for.**
"We are the
proper Kliges'chee, we offer you a military alliance."
data. A decision cannot be made on `proper Kliges'chee' alone.**
"If you are
not allied with the proper Kliges'chee, you are against them."
for the crews alone. **I am beginning to like the other side
already. All ships tactic 'stooge', maximum warp, we met one parsec
the other side of that battle. Now!**
All three Ane ships
peeled off seemingly at each other. They jumped to warp speed before
the other ship could react. K'rrak watched from the recovery
control room of the Questing. He keyed the intercom.
you fight Taraban? You could easily defeat that thing."
Taraban looked at
the Klingon. **I don't like to start fights I don't need. This guy
'negotiates' like a bad B-film villain.**
Glade, and Searcher took separate routes at
warp around the battle, dodging ships that came at them, and in
general throwing everyone's tactics off. Taraban simply hoped that
whoever was in the right, if there was a "right" would
benefit from the confusion.
Taraban shifted in
the command pit. He was in link with the other two ships. Captain
Halan of the Glade, and Captain Yralban of the Searcher.
The three ships floated in the void. It had taken three days to get
around the battle, and from the sensor readings it was still raging,
although at a reduced level. Currently all three ships where combing
sub-space for communication, there was remarkably little.
Halan spoke. **I
have been watching the tactics used. First, their ships do not
seemed designed for the battle they are fighting. Second, they move
they way we would.**
Yralban asked. **How
**No commands on
subspace, but they move as if controlled by a single mind.**
broke in. **Correction Captain. One side operates in that fashion,
the other side does not. They also look to be getting their pants
whipped because of it.**
Taraban said. **Two
different races, one telepathic, one not?**
replied. **That is a possible answer.**
jumped in. **However, all the ships are of a type. I count three
classes of vessel total, and all three types on each side.**
joined the conversation for the first time. **Yea, and a frozen
methane atmosphere on all of them. We ain't gonna find much in
common with them.**
Halan said. **No,
not in a physical sense.**
Taraban took over.
**However, the investigation is secondary to our primary goal of
getting where we need to be. We will continue to analyze the scans
we have and see what comes of it. We might have this to face on the
The three ships
formed up and proceeded at warp 9.
Several times over
the next few weeks the Flotilla dodged Kliges'chee ships and fleets.
Space was swarming with the vessels. Too many ships to be an
accident. Glalaban, Sciences Chief from the Glade had the
probability of a mass mind at work currently at 67.5474%. Ships were
being placed in their path. A situation was being created were they
would either have to fight, or stop. So far they had dodged every
attempt to stop them, and they had refused to be dragged into a
The break came in
the morning of the 20th day in Kliges'chee space.
said to Taraban. **Captain, we have
**Again. No we are
not allying ourselves with the proper Kliges'chee.**
"Good!" Said the voice
on the other end.
**Good? This is
on the screen was the same as the others he had seen, but the
attitude was a 180 degrees differet Taraban called the other
Captains onto the link.
"I am a
representative of the Free Kliges'chee. We wish peaceful contact
with other races. Will you talk with us?"
**Talk is all I
have time for right now, but yes, we will talk while in range.**
"You have had
contact with the 'proper Kliges'chee'?"
**Brief, but yes.**
"They are a
mass mind bent on control of all resources in space."
**I'll take that at
face value right now, how do you differ?**
Kliges'chee are not part of the mass mind. We possess free will, and
we are willing to fight for it."
how are you doing?**
real good. Because they have a mass mind, they fight better."
**You are a
**As are we. It is
possible to link minds, and retain yourself. Experiment with this. It
is how we work. The All together, but each ourselves, with our
"Can you tell
**Open yourself to
Taraban felt the
mind of the Kliges'chee, a carnivore, a very cold carnivore. It was
also very frightened of losing its free will. He eased its mind, and
linked with Yargaban who was with the All today. The Ane assured
themselves that this being spoke truth, and quickly taught the means
of creating their own telepathic network.
**Thank you, thank
you very much, with this we can take advantage of out ability to
link, and not lose ourselves in the process. Can you stop and stay
for a while?**
**That is not
possible at this time, we have urgent business. In any case, we live
in a gaseous oxygen atmosphere. I don't think you would like it
**Nor you ours.**
**Our minds have
touched, we can keep contact that way.**
**You have helped
us, can we help you?**
**Tell us of the
And so the Tale of
the Kliges'chee, both the proper and the Free was added, in the
broadest of terms, to the chronicles of the multitudes of the
In the space about
a planet the fleets approached. The life-forms within were identical
in every respect. The ships built by the same hands. Their minds
were without a single point in common. On one side the proper
Kliges'chee, willed to act by a handful of minds went forth. The
Status Quo their sacred cause, the others an abomination to every
thought of the Comptrollers. On the other, the Free Kliges'chee
fought, and willingly died to remain each his own person. Never to
surrender their will, never to let another be them for them.
This time it was
different, this time with the united imagination of thousands of
minds, vs. the experience of a few, the battle did not turn quickly
in favor of the proper Kliges'chee. This time the Free Kliges'chee
could maneuver with the confidence of the mass mind, and fight like
the free willed beings they were. This time, the slaughter was
massive, but the victor was not the proper Kliges'chee.
The night had
passed it zenith, the road was still dark, but in the distance, a
glimmer of the dawn could be seen. A new era would begin, and a
future race would mark this day as its beginning.
Into the night sped
the messengers of the dawn. Beings with a mission of their own. A
purpose unfathomed by the Kliges'chee.
The small fleet had
been in space for 7 months. The worlds of the Kliges'chee were far
behind them. Before them was the place of three suns, in the 25th
arm of the wheel, the 243 circumference. And the problem was
The three suns
orbited about a single point in space. In that point was a space
station. A space station over 14000 kilometers in diameter. Around
the suns orbited ships of an unknown design. The sleek dart-like
vessels were each a fourth the size of the Manta class ships, and had
a similar power curve. So far they had located and identified 75 of
these vessels. They prowled like hungry lions around a trapped
buffalo. They made passes, firing weapons at the station to little
effect, but still they prowled. The Ane flotilla remained a small
and dark spot in the Oort cloud, and took sensor scans.
Taraban looked at
the options, and called a meeting with the Captains.
**We have 75
hostile warships. Too many to fight, and running is not an option.**
Halan said. **The
Builders are not pacifists, they would have fought back, and that
station could easily drive the wolves from the door.**
**Interesting wolves. Gunboats by the power curve. Either they have
a tender somewhere, or they are a hardy bunch that doesn't mind
Taraban said. **Size
is a factor as well. Sentient does not require great size. Those could
be very large ships.**
K'rrak sat back and
listened. Today he wore the full regalia of a warrior. His
bodyguards fully armed behind him. "You will fight then?"
**Unless they are willing to let us pass, yes. We will fight. However,
I don't intend to announce ourselves until we are on the way
in. No point in long drawn out negotiations that allow them time to
gather for us.**
K'rrak grunted his
Halan said. **We
need to contact the Builders. Again, they could fight back, that
fleet is nothing compared to what the station could do. The question
remains, are any of the Builders left.**
Taraban mused. **Good
point. Pacifists they are not. However, they did have odd
ideas about AIs.**
K'rrak spoke. "Odd
ideas'? How do you mean?"
**They would allow
a created intelligence to defend, or fight another created
intelligence, but they could only defend against attacks by
biological life-forms. The fact that the attacking fleet still
remains tells me it is a good possibility there are no biological
Builders on the station.**
"Then what is
the point in coming?"
intelligence. We are here to render assistance, and we will. How
far are The Others?"**
took the question. **Their last report put them a month out.**
**The Others have
ships that are the equivalent of ours 80 years ago. OK we will take
the plunge. Contact the station on telepathic bands, inform it we
are coming in. Standard formation, we go in welcome or not.**
The next hour was
spent battening down everything that might move. Batteries were
topped off, Ship integrity fields reinforced and all pressure zones
locked down. Taraban waited as the reports came in. Soon everything
was in readiness.
**Red Alert.** The
call was a formality.
**All ahead warp 6. We
will wait for them to notice and hail us..**
The wolves didn't
wait. The three Ane ships were quickly spotted as they entered the
Farceit control ship to unknown ships, go away, this space and all it
contains are ours."
**This is Captain
Taraban of the Ane. We have received a distress call from this
location. We are answering this hail. Do not interfere.**
Taraban looked at
the Farceit commander. First impressions confirmed a lot, the ship
looked very utilitarian, and cramped. The race appeared as the
common two arms, two legs and a head body form. The heads were
large, and had big black eyes. In comparison the bodies looked under
developed. The mouth was small. The bridge was dark, and the being
looked to be squinting into its monitor. It repeated its first
"Ane ships, we
have claimed this space, beware and get lost!"
**We have received
a distress call, and will answer it.**
"Then you will
die!" The connection was cut.
**All ships are closing on out location. Predict that 30% will be
able to engage us before we reach the station.**
**Too many, they
have an intent to destroy, do not wait, repeat, do not wait until we
are fired on to fire. Open fire when the ships are in range.**
**All ships have
raised shields and are arming weapons.**
The first flight of
four ships closed with the Ane vessels. They set up for a high speed
pass. Taraban didn't wait.
'stooge'. Take them.** The three ships again executed a dive
seemingly at each other. The Farceit vessels hesitated in their
headlong plunge, and fired weapons. Most missed, or hit glancing
blows. A three ships were taken out of warp. The Ane ships targeted
and fired as well. Two of the four Farceit ships blew up on the
first hit, one looked crippled, and the fourth was shaken but not
damaged. Taraban was surprised.
answered. **Limited shielding. They can set for specific
frequencies, but the field is penetrated by anything else. Advantage
advantage, but we need any we can get. Continue at full impulse
speed, ready phasers. Anyone that saw that will expect the same I
The second flight
was closing fast on a tangent. They fired far out. A plasma spread
that rocked the fleet, with a slight drain on shields.
reported. **Watch that one, similar to Romulan designs, it will hurt
The battle raged as
the Farceit tried to guess which weapons the Ane would use, and the
Ane plunged through the swarm ducking and weaving to avoid the heavy
weapons. The Farceit where losing the guessing game. 50% of the
hits that the Ane dealt out were serious to fatal. But Ane defenses
were wearing down.
hit bad, and leaking air from the mission hull, Searcher had
one phaser array out. Questing had a turret jammed and out of
service. They still had a lot of space left to cover, and over half
the 30% of Farceit ships to deal with.
Still they plunged,
and fired, and drove through. Searcher took a bad hit. Hull
panels rent and tore as air blew free. She suddenly got very free
with her torpedoes. The turrets went in to rapid fire mode. The
station was looming large. Glade took more hits, her speed
was starting to suffer. Questing was taking her share. She
was down to one core, and working that one for all it had.
More ships closed
in. The remaining Farceit vessels had warped around the star system
and were closing to take a bite from the wounded ships.
Farceits veered off, one damaged ship drifted closed, and blew up on
a barrier between the Ane and itself.
welcome to Three Suns Station. It has been a very long time. Please
follow the navigation lights to dock at our repair facility. We
apologize for any inconvenience you experienced in reaching our
Taraban sighed with
relief, any more inconvenience would have killed them all.
The three Ane ships
lay at dock somewhere in the massive station. The Captain's met to
discuss their current situation. Taraban read off the damage.
**Questing: We have
one intermix core out of operation, The port rear turret is
jammed by hull damage. Numerous small to medium overloads and
shorts. Most systems are operating on the secondaries or triaries. We
have eleven casualties, all are light, no deaths.
has suffered several hull breaches in the mission pod. Damage to the
right warp induction fins, primary weapons control is
dead, impulse systems are damaged and working at 76%. 52 Casualties,
light to severe, 3 deaths.
is the worst hit, and the biggest worry. The hull is
seriously compromised in the port wing, one turret has been shot off.
Phaser control is gone, the torpedo containment system is gone, as
are all her quantum torpedoes. Most serious is that the primary
computer core is blown. Elathlan
herself is fine. 23 casualties, light to serious, 7 deaths. We
are here, and crippled. If the station cannot repair us we will have
to abandon the Searcher at the least. Comments?**
Halan looked worse
for the wear. **We currently have safe dock. As of yet the station
has not contacted us as to our needs. Or its needs.**
Yralban spoke. **We
are waiting on that then. A physical search of this station
would take longer than anyone here expects to live. I have a stable,
if badly hurt ship.**
K'rrak listened to
the interplay and stoked his beard. "You do not think you can
fight your way out?"
**No, Questing has no reserve power, Glade cannot make
better than warp 3, and Searcher has no control computer. We
are stuck until the ships can be repaired. Questing is the
only one we can fix without a major dock yard, it will not hold all
Halan added. **And
since we docked 5 more ships have supplemented the 52 survivors of
Taraban spoke. **OK,
we make contact, get repairs, and then we will reason with the
Elathlan lay in the
ships sickbay. While physically she was fine, she was still
suffering the link shock from when her main system was blown out. It
felt weird to be sitting in the ship, but not feel the ship. Next to
her Unaban was on the highest level of intervention. He had taken a
full lung full of the phaser coolant. Radiation burns spotted his
body, he didn't look at all well. She wanted to get up, and aid in
the repair of the computer system. She wanted to get the suit back
on. She could get the backup computer core running in five minutes
flat. She wanted to lay here and shiver. So far, shiver was wining.
reported to Captain Taraban. He was currently in the starboard
engineering section inspecting the damage to the intermix core.
**Captain, we have
visitors on the dockside.**
**Well, its about
time. Clear us to hard dock, and call Ambassador K'rrak and Lt.
Takal to the docking chamber.**
Taraban met the Klingon Ambassador, and the Vulcan physicist at the
nose docking chamber.
"Visitors? Your Builders?"
**We shall soon
see. Takal, if you would be so kind as to speak for the
Takal raised an
eyebrow. "Do I have a few minutes Captain."
Takal went to the
replicator in the EVA chamber and ordered. "Vulcan diplomatic
dress, full formal." She looked back at K'rrak. "Ambassador
The requested items
sparkled in to existence. She quickly stripped her uniform and
tossed it in the return chute, and dressed in the new garments with
quick efficient movements.
"I believe I
am now dressed for the part."
A low boom rang
through the ship's hull as hard contact with the station was made. They
could hear the seal being tested, and the docking collar fill
**We have a secure
dock with the station sir.** Reported Questing.
**Very well, open
the dock and show our guests in.**
The creature walked
cautiously into the Questing. Eight legs held up its body and
three of the remaining eight limbs held out eyes.
**You are Captain
**Who is this
one?** An arm moved to look directly at K'rrak.
**He is Ambassador
K'rrak of House Kathris, a Klingon.**
**We know of the
Klingons, but when last we saw them, they had yet to smelt metals.
Welcome to our station Ambassador.**
from the Klingon Empire, and from myself."
**And this one?**
**She is Takal,
Ambassador from the United Federation of Planets, she is Vulcan.**
**You have overcome
you tendency to slaughter each other?**
Takal didn't miss a
beat. "We have Builder. Vulcan has known peace now for 2000
standard years. I also bring you greetings from the worlds of the
Federation, from Vulcan, and myself."
Taraban got down to
the question. **Why have you not driven off the invading Farceits?**
**As you might have
surmised, none of the Builders are left. We alone remain. The First
Protocols forbids us to harm a biological life form.**
"You are a
**Yes, I and the 10
billion like me on the station.**
K'rrak said. "You
don't look like a construct."
emphasized making the duplicate to the parameters of the original.**
in the back of Taraban's mind. He placed it on the burner and let it
cook. Meanwhile the conversation had been winding to the Lounge.
**What is your
**It is satisfying.
There are three new starfaring races within easy reach of us. There
is an elder race has withdrawn and the Farceits.**
**How do they
**They are a
re-emergence. 840.56 rotations past, a wormhole opened in their
system. It remained stable for 96.443 rotations, then collapsed. They
sent 4764 ships through the wormhole. What happened beyond it
we are unaware. They claimed exploration in a peaceable and friendly
fashion. At that time they dealt with us with frequency. When the
wormhole collapsed, it did so violently. The close proximity to the
Farceit home world caused a total collapse of their power grid. and a
resulting collapse of their technological civilization. 52,21
rotations past they once again demonstrated warp capacity. Their
ships are more advanced than what logic would expect. They have also
changed their attitude, from peaceful contact and exploration, to
seize and hold.**
**They have been
giving the other races problems?**
**Yes, they have
carved an empire out of their less aggressive neighbors. Our
Protocol prevents us from taking action. Indeed, we have become a
**And now they want
rotations past they declared that the Three Suns and all within it
was theirs. Without the ability to engage them on the offense, we
can only deny them the right to land. Which we have done.**
**You want us to
read them the riot act.**
**Why have you not
engaged the refugees in this matter?**
**We are reluctant
to involve them with technology greater than what they themselves
have developed. We know Ane. Ane do not develop technology, you
adapt and implement.**
That idea was about
to boil. So Taraban let it. **What is your method of reproduction?**
The Builder perked
up a bit. **Simulated zygote production, followed by sexual
recombining of genotypes. This results in an embryonic stage
followed by a post natal growth period resulting in a fully developed
proto-Individual. Education in the post-natal period results in a
fully formed member of society.**
**Where is the
zygote production done?**
**Up to 17,856.7
rotations past it was an external operation. From that rotation we
have incorporated it within our bodies.**
K'rrak sat, up, he
didn't know where this was leading, but he listened carefully. Takal
held down a rising tide of excitement. The logic was inescapable.
**What is the embryonic development environment?**
**Within the body
of one of the zygote providers. The choice is made at the time of
genetic transfer. Either provider can be the host.**
**All of the
necessary parts of the being are produced within the embryonic
is complete and total.**
**In that case I
would conclude that you are a biological race.**
The Builder sat up,
and opned all its multitude of fingers. It focused every eye on
Taraban. **We, are?**
**Do you wish
would free us of all of the Protocols, we could then act as we see
**The All will
consult on this matter, will you accept its judgment.**
The Builder stood,
as did Taraban. The Builder touched Taraban's face with the fingers
of two arms.
**As it was before
so shall it be again. The Word of the Ane will be accepted as the
Word of the Builders.**
**So as it was, so
shall it be, the Ane will deliver the Word to the Builders.**
**What is to be the
exchange for the Word?**
**Our ships are
badly damaged, and in need of repair.**
**This would be
done as you did come for us.**
**We have no world
in this sector.**
**A nearby star is
suitable, it has no planet currently suitable to life.**
**A world to live
on is agreeable. The matter will be discussed, and the Word will be
**We will await the
Word.** With that the Builder once again touched Taraban, and
K'rrak sat amazed.
Takal was stunned. She spoke first.
mean they will make you a world for simply telling them they
are a biological species?"
**Almost. We will
have to construct an argument they cannot tear apart.**
K'rrak spoke. "Why
do they need more, have you not told them all they require?"
understand the AI protocols of the Builders. They are not allowed to
make that decision for themselves.**
"But a planet
for a simple declaration."
K'rrak, Imagine yourself as a race bound by strict rules of behavior
to other races. Rules that inhibit your free will, and put you at a
disadvantage. Rules that by your very nature you cannot break.**
"It would be
**What would you
give the holders of the key to your free will?**
The Klingon's face
lit with understanding.
**Yes, what we hold
in the Word, is nothing less than the free will of a race. The time
has come to give that Word.**
Takal asked. "The
**No more until
after I have consulted with the All.**
Once again as
before, the Ane gathered. The three ships emptied of all but the
most injured. They gathered on the station under an artificial sky,
and new made grass. Together they became reacquainted, physically
and mentally. Together they lay down and withdrew for the Cleansing.
elevated their Icons, raised their Aspects, and became the All.
Said the Few to the
All. **The Children of the Builders have asked the Question.**
Said the All to the
Few. **Are they ready for the Word.**
Said the Few to the
All. **The evidence is plain, they are ready for the Word.**
Said the All to the
Few. **They use no machines to reproduce?**
Said the Few to the
All. **They do not.**
Said the All to the
Few. **All of their body is produced within the body?**
Said the Few to the
All. **It is.**
Said the All to the
Few. **Then the Word can be given. We shall construct the Word, so
they will know, and cannot deny it.**
Said the Few to the
All. **Who is to deliver the Word?**
Said Falan to the
All. **This is my duty, I shall go, and deliver the Word.**
Said the All to
Falan. **So it is the duty of the First Speaker. We will take you
The All put forth
the effort, and Falan was taken to the station. Then the All
constructed the Word. And the Word was ready to take to the Children
of the Builders.
Kafilan, the Healer
on the Searcher, looked over the readings of the two patients
still in sickbay. One was physically fine, but still withdrawn into
herself. A major concern since she was the ship.
long will you remain like this.**
Elathlan looked at
her with empty eyes. **I can't go back.**
**Never, I never
want to be ripped from my body again.**
**The chances are
extremely small that it could ever happen a second time.**
**That chance is
there. I have died, and lived to tell of it.**
**You have lived.**
**I want the
**Think of what you
are giving up. Of all of us, only the made can live forever.**
**I will not
function as a computer again. I want the birth.** She lay her head
back down, and refused to talk further.
Kafilan shook her
head. A wound to the mind can be a fatal as one to the body. But
free will was paramount. If she would not take the reins of the
ship, she could not be forced.
Kafilan went to her
next patient. Unaban was suffering. The radiation that laced his
body had poisoned it. Regeneration was not taking. He was on 100%
life support. His lungs had totally failed, his liver was barely
hanging on, and he was not responding to treatment.
**I am dying.**
**Yes, there is
little we can do but prolong your life. A week, perhaps two weeks.**
**I would have them
as long as my mind is clear.**
**Then you will
have them as pain free as we can make it.**
**None, even the
most invasive regenerations will not function with the dose of
radiation you have taken.**
**Then I must
prepare myself to join the All.**
**I will keep
trying, but I will not offer hope.**
She hated this job
Falan came before
the assembled Children of the Builders in the station's largest
chamber. Silence greeted her coming. Not a sound from the assembled
**We the Ane made a
promise to your parents. When the ancient Builders came to the Ane,
they were a dying race. Fertility had passed them by, and science
could not restore it. In exchange for the worlds we now call home,
they asked of us the answer to a question. `How can all we are
survive as a race?' To this we answered, you must create new
children of technology, and teach them to replace you. This they
did, and in doing so, they laid a heavy burden on those children. That
until they where fit to be called a race of people, they should
live by the rules imposed by the parent. When the conditions of
maturity had been met, they could take the mantle of the parent. To
the Ane, the ancient Builders left the question of Decision. It was
we who would determine Childhood's End. The time for the fulfilling
of promises has come.**
A soft rustle swept
the entire assembled mass.
**We have debated
the evidence, and formulated the Word. And the Word is; You are as
your parents dreamed you could be. You are like them in body and in
mind. You are worthy this day of the mantle of responsibility. Wear
A moment of silence
swept the endless field. A billion beings stretched their limbs to
the maximum. A billion voices raised a mighty shout that shook the
station to the core, and rocked the frail creature that delivered the
long awaited message. Minds raised up in ecstasy, the All joined
with the Children of the Builders, now the Builders Themselves. A
race was born anew.
**This is Three
Suns Station control to all Farceit warships. Cease all claims on
Three Suns system immediately, or suffer the consequences.**
80 ships circled
the three suns, the commander took the hail.
"If we cannot
have this system, none will benefit from it. Surrender at once."
**Very well, we
tried being nice.**
Mile long warships
rose from the surface of the station and pursued the offending
vessels. The fight was short and sweet. One after another the ships
were tractored in, and taken captive. Weapons glancing harmlessly
off the sides of the massive ships. Later the commander of the
Farceit fleet was hauled before the First of the Station. The riot
act was read, "Aggression will be met with force", and he
and his cohorts instructed to take the ultimatum home to their
Farceit ships could not clear the station to warp fast enough.
Once again the
captains met. This time in the space provided for the Ane while the
ships where under repair.
things. **I have a real problem.**
Taraban asked. **And
that problem is?**
quit. She refuses to reenter the ships systems.**
**That is a real
problem. Without a fully functioning computer Searcher is
effectively disabled. How much fuel do you have? Can you get back
in recovery mode?**
fuel consumption is much higher.**
**We might be able
to put together enough antimatter to top you off.**
Kafilan entered the
meeting. **Captains, I may have a solution.**
Yralban perked his
ears. **How so.**
Unaban is dying.
Nothing we have available can save him, it's just a matter of time.
Elathlan, as you know has requested a birth, it is her right. She
will have to wait until we can return to facilities capable of
performing that procedure. However, is there reason we cannot
reverse the procedure? We cannot save Unaban's body, can we save his
mind, and meet our needs as well?**
**Do we have the
the possibility. Yes, technically it is possible.**
interrupted. **However, is it ethically possible?**
Kafilan replied. **Who
does it harm?**
They all thought
over the matter. Halan at last answered for all of them.
**I cannot see harm
to anyone in this.**
Yarlban turned to
Kafilan. **Offer Unaban the option. If he refuses, we will continue
with our first plan. If necessary we will abandon the ship.**
A month after their
arrival the repairs on the three vessels where still underway. The
Builders have been more than generous. With the necessary plans in
the Ane computer banks they had built replacement parts for
everything required, including an intermix core for the Questing,
and the replacement turret for the one lost on the Searcher.
was in intense training for his new role in life. He was receiving a
crash course in how to be a ship's computer from both Fiealan and
Delalan. He was making
progress. He was a little disappointed that all the Aneform bios
available were female. But he was at least alive to anticipate a
The Other Ane had
also arrived. After a proper greeting it was decided that a portion
of both groups would seed the new planet promised by the Builders. 30
Ane from the Federation and 20 of the Others. More would be
brought in when the place was prepared.
K'rrak sat down
with the Builder representative. He had elected to go with the full
Klingon regalia. If one is representing their culture, one must be
proud of it.
"I wish to
invite a representative of the Builders to accompany me back to the
beneficial of you. We do not see benefit in sending representatives
at this time. We have undergone a great change. Time is required
for this change to be assimilated and integrated. Do however convey
our desire for a peaceful co-existence to the Klingons.**
convince you to send an Ambassador?"
**Not at this time. We
need to deal with current issues in our own sector before we
consider rejoining galactic society,**
"Would you be
willing to accept a Klingon delegation here at your station?"
**A delegation of
the Klingon people will be welcome as will any peaceful people that
come to us.**
"I K'rrak of
the House Kathris, speaking for Kahless the Unforgettable Emperor of
the Klingons, and the High Council are satisfied with this kind
**You are most
welcome, and we wish you a speedy journey to return our words to the
Emperor and his Council.**
**You are not too
disappointed I hope?**
"No, I didn't
expect you to come, but the effort must be made. If the Federation's
'instant Ambassador' has not approached you on the same matter I
would be most surprised."
**She has, and with
the same results. However, she is staying as the Federation
battled it out with his ridges. "Indeed? Most surprising. Without
with the Ane made instant contact with the Federation council
possible. She has been approved as official Ambassador.**
K'rrak stroked his
beard. "I will have to consider the implications of this." He stood.
"Good day to you then, I shall bear your words home
in a more plebeian fashion."
Taraban turned to
the female who's ear he had been nibbling. **Mark my spot, I am
being bellowed for.** He got up and trotted to where K'rrak stood in
the door looking impressive. **You bellowed oh Great One.**
"/I would have
words with you./"
**Well, come on in,
you're blocking the door.** Taraban suited actions to words and
found a beanbag, and flopped into it.**
with one of his more impressive struts. "/Since when do you
favor the Federation over the Klingons?/"
**You mean in the
matter of Takal.**
exactly want I mean./"
**One, since we are
a charter member of the Federation. Two, since we have
representatives on the Federation Council we can inform of what is
going on here, and who can, in turn, inform us. Qo'noS on the other
hand has no Ane on it. I would gladly have given you the same
service, had it been possible.**
"/Really?/" K'rrak was
clearly not convinced.
**Really. I have
given you free use of every other communication service my ship has,
why would I stop at telepathic communication?**
Taraban cocked his
head and lowered his ears in an Ane smile. **You didn't ask. Now if
you would excuse me, I was in the middle of seducing a female.**
With that he went
back and picked up where he left off.
K'rrak stood there
for a moment, and stalked out of the room.
K'rrak was back in his rooms.
"/Can you get
a message back to Klingon space./"
**You mean a
telepathic message. Subspace would get lost in the background.**
Klingon sphere no. A number of locations on the Klingon-Federation
border. I can get a message to the Klingon Ambassador on Earth
transmit an encrypted message?/"
**I can. I can
also give you a real-time link to him via the subspace repeater we
have in Sol orbit**
still, my codes are doubtless out of date. There are a few facts I
can use to confirm my identify./"
**Do you wish to
use your diplomatic codes?**
"/Yes, I will
transmit them from my personal computer./"
Quarn. A call from Ambassador K'rrak on line six./"
"/K'rrak! That fool
that got himself lost in space a year ago on some fool's
that K'rrak of House Kathris./"
dead, tell the impostor to get lost./"
"/He said to
remind you of the Ho'qutos, and the food replicator in Officer
visibly. "/Put him through./"
through the screen, the connection was crystal clear. "/Quarn
you old dog. Still in your cushy post on Earth I see. Gone to fat
Quarn growled back.
"/Not until I eat your heart you old fool. Where in the name
of the Black Fleet ARE you? It had better be good or your House is
burnt before the Council./"
"/I am all the
way to Hell. 500 light years passed the far frontier. I have a
diplomatic package for Qo'noS and the Council. I have opened
diplomatic relations with a technically advanced race out here. The
Federation already has an Ambassador in one Takal of Vulcan. However, I
have last year's codes. I know they have changed. I will
deliver my package in person./"
"/If your that
far out, how are we talking in real time?/"
telepathic-subspace link. Tell no secrets./"
"/So what can
Federation knows. We have contacted the Builders of the El-Nanth
Rosette. I will return with further details to Qo'noS. K'rrak
sat a long moment and contemplated the concept. If, the old fool was
in his right mind, his House and honor would surpass his own. However,
K'rrak was a long way off, and that was his advantage. Meanwhile K'rrak
confirmed the transmission of his packet with
Fiealan from the Starbase 24 repeater, much closer to Qo'noS than
will win great honor, or death from this. I have gambled all./"
**Is it worth it?**
is the spice of life for the Klingon./"
and back in formation the Ane ships floated on the edge of the Three
Suns. Three fruitful months had passed. Taraban gave the orders.
**All ahead warp 9,
let's go home.**
"/What do you
mean there is a problem with the gagh? I had two crates brought on
board, I have finished one, and you said the other was perfectly
"/So what is
contain gagh, and gagh alone.**
"/And what is
in with the gagh?/"
presumably by the name of Ga'fer.**
"/Indeed./" K'rrak was
getting less amused. "/And how did my gagh come to
contain a Klingon presumably named Ga'fer!?/"
**Presumably he got
in when the crate was ground side at Starbase 24. When beamed up the
crate was open. A scan revealed that the gagh was fine, and an
additional life form, one Klingon male, was contained.**
"/Why did you
not remove him then?!/" K'rrak was livid.
wanted to be in the crate, it didn't hurt the gagh, so I granted his
of humor eludes me. I want some gagh./"
**No problem, I'll
see you get gagh. However, Ga'fer will have to be dealt with.**
"/Why would he
be in the gagh?/"
**I suspect he was
trying to sneak on the ship to kill Taraban.**
"/Must I play
'20 questions'!?! Give me the whole story!!!/" By this point
K'rrak was pounding the table. If strangling a computer terminal
would do any good, he was about to do that.
**In broad terms,
Ga'fer tried to start a fight between his bother and Taraban, it
backfired, and he ended up getting tossed out of his Father's ship. I
imagine he thought he could waltz in, kill Taraban and take the
well, let us see this 'hero'./"
**Cargo bay five
Ambassador. He might be a vegetable.**
**The stasis fields
were designed to keep vegetable matter fresh. They do work well on
simple life forms, like gagh, and are now standard for transporting
live biological samples, such as bacteria or organs. It has never
been used on a higher life form.**
"/Then he has
sealed he own fate. Get him out of my gagh! Gar'th, J'mon, come we
have a fool to remove from the gagh./"
Minutes later the
assembled stood before the crate. The field was dropped and two bios
opened the hatch. The stunned Ga'fer was hauled out. K'rrak looked
and the pitiful mass on the deck.
Ga'fer jerked, and
slumped to the ground. K'rrak moved to motivate him with a foot.
He stopped. "/What?/"
**He tried. The
brain sent the right messages, the body didn't respond.**
**That would look
to be the case.**
to sickbay then, and see if he recovers. Meanwhile, I want my gagh
washed and a suitable portion in a bowl in my quarters./"
The voice commanded, he did, why was he still on the floor, why was
he alive? Two someones where placing him on a stretcher. He leaped
from the pallet to kill them both, but nothing happened. They were
carrying him into the medical section. They took his clothes, and
his weapons. He was being laid on a life support table. He
screamed, but no sound came out. Again and again he screamed until
unconscious claimed him once again.
The Flotilla weaved
and dodged through Kliges'chee space, crept quietly through Rishian
space and at last approached the Klingon boarder. The reception
committee was waiting. Taraban called K'rrak to the bridge.
**It seems we have
"/Yes, we will
have an escort according to the message I received. However,
the markings, I would say that these are not it./"
**'We saw an enemy
and defeated it, haven't seen the ships you are looking for'
"/Likely. What are
your chances of slipping around them?/"
**Lousy. They are
deployed with their fastest ships on the edges in a net formation. They
know where we want to go, and can anticipate that.**
will you do?/"
**I could throw you
to the dogs.**
but it might work./"
**I can challenge
"/He might not
**I can run back
the way I came.**
"/Gets us no
**Then I do the
the universe. Fiealan, send the word, strengthen the connection with
the All, we may have to abandon ship in mass. Send to all
telepathic/subspace repeaters, Federation diplomatic channel, clear
signal. Hail the Klingon flagship.**
**Hailing, they are
blocking subspace communications.**
**I have the
Commander, Admiral Garkath, on line.**
**I am Captain
Taraban of the Ane Confederation Defense Force, why are you blocking
my way Admiral?**
Admiral Garkath was
a perfect example of Klingon pomp. His command throne was draped in
rich and exotic skins, his person dripped in weapons and armor. "/You
have aboard your ship one K'rrak of the honorless house of
**I have aboard one
Ambassador K'rrak of House Kathris, who's lineage was established by
Kahless himself, and who's honor is without question.**
"/He is an
honorless dog! Surrender him or be destroyed!!/"
is a guest in my house. To get him you will have to kill me.**
arrange that. Before you is the most powerful fleet in Klingon, or
**Before you are
two ships built to fight four times their mass in the best warships,
and win. As well as a Starship the equal of any of your warships. Know
two things Admiral before you commit yourself to attack. One,
your's is the first ship I will destroy even if I destroy no others.
Second, that as we speak, all we say is broadcast to the
"/Why should I
care for your boasts. Subspace communication is not possible beyond
**Then you admit to
"/There is not
reason not to./"
**Telepathy is not
subspace Admiral. I am in contact with the All, the All will inform
Qo'noS, and your dishonor will be known.**
**Can you risk
that? Call Q'onoS, see if I lie. You are a dead man, by my ships,
or by your council.**
"/You will ALL
**No, my ships will
evacuated first. And all my crews, guests included, will be on
Starbase 24. You will fight automated ships, with no live hand at
the helm. Your ship will die first, any damage done to the rest of
your fleet is a bonus.**
non-essential personnel from the the Glade.**
Garkath turned to
his sensor officer. "Report."
ship is emptying before my eyes. There are only twenty five life
fight without honor?/"
**The honor to be
won or lost is yours Admiral Garkath. Glade alone can destroy
your ship, she but has to be uncaring of her weapons expenditure, and
ram your ship. However, I offer you a way of honor.**
Garkath was stiff. He
realized the trap that had been laid. He could not survive this
encounter by an all out fight.
"/What is your
**You will meet me
on the sands of honor. I will come as my mother born me. Because
you are only a Klingon, I shall allow you what weapons Klingon custom
would allow in a matter of honor, the sword, the knife, or the
bat'leth. Should you win, then you can take the matter up with my
guests. Should I win, House Qon'tos, is mine.**
The Ane's words
burned in his ears. "/What of your ships?/"
**They are not my
ships to give. They are property of the Ane Confederation. Attack
them, and We will hound you to the edge of the universe.**
"/And if I
**You can let us
pass, or die like a dog in your hole.**
The audience was
equally divided between Klingon and Ane. K'rrak had elected to sit
with the Ane. The sun beat down on the small amphitheater on a
nearby Klingon world. The Crews were separated by a contingent of
the local civilian population. They didn't care about sides, they
just wanted to see alien blood.
Garkath strode onto
the sands. The Klingons roared and howled their approval at the hero
until the sand shook from the sound. He was striped from the waist
up and carried the bat'leth. The Ane sat silent.
Taraban stepped out
onto the sands, his long mane braided back with ribbons. The
Klingons spat and hissed. Then the Ane pined back their ears gave
voice. The cry started low, a triple note trill that sent chills
down the spine of every being within hearing. A cry that for two
million years had driven the predator from the birthing, or the
fallen. It wailed somewhere between fear and pain, reinforced by
telepathic waves, until half the Klingons were holding their ears in
pain. It swelled until the fierce will of the Ane could be seen in
every blue eye, and it cut off like a knife. For a long beat silence
filled the air. The fight began.
Garkath held the
weapon low. He circled the Ane, and Taraban kept his front to him,
wheeling slowly on his hind legs. Garkath lunged forward, feinting
with the bat'leth, Taraban watched the blade warily. His teeth
bared, ears pinned. For five minutes they circled each taking the
measure of the other. The arena remained quiet. The Klingons
watching the Ane, every time they began to cheer, the Ane would start
that eerie cry. Back and forth the combatants danced, neither
gaining blows or advantage.
Circle and circle
again. At last Garkath lunged, Taraban ducked, and kicked, metal
rang as hoof met blade, neither came up bloodied. Garkath closed
again, blade high, the Ane closed low, metal met flesh, a wound in
the flank. The Klingons roared for the sight of blood. Teeth met
iron muscle, and closed, Garkath roared and rolled away. Taraban
stood, blood ran down his side and he spat blood, Klingon blood.
Garkath tested the ripped arm. He would suffer that bite. Circle
and circle again. Each wounded combatant tested the other's
remaining strength. Circle and circle again. Garkath closed again,
the Ane reared back, and the sharp chime of the bat'leth sounded
again and again as hoof, horn, and blade struck and struck again.
Taraban yelped, Garkath howled, they parted. Taraban had a clear
wound clean across the throat, deep it bled freely. Garkath flung
his hands skyward and howled for victory. The Klingons howled and
watched for the Ane to fall. Taraban felt the vocal cords in his
first pipe tighten closed to keep the blood out of his lungs. He
staggered a little, and let his head drop. He expanded the remaining
two pipes of his tracheae, they had to make up for the loss of the
first. Garkath turned to face every part of the arena, arms lofted
in victory. His back was to the failing Ane. Taraban leapt. Garkath
caught the motion barely in time, he raised the weapon one
handed shocked that Taraban had the strength to even move. Strong
kicks batted the weapon from his hand. He lunged after it landing
face down on the sand. Taraban jumped after him, landing square on
his back. For a horror of eternity he pounded his feet into the
Klingon's back, four hundred pound jack hammers, pistons of
destruction. For an eternity of minutes the blood flew, marking the
sand and the Ane's white belly. For a thousand seconds Garkath
howled, then gurgled, then fell silent. Taraban stepped out of the
dead Klingon's body. Pink blood covered his legs from hoof to hock,
it spattered his white underside. His own red blood dripped to mix
with his fallen foe's.
**HOUSE QON'TOS IS
The Ane let out
with full cry and leapt to the field. The Klingons fled their own
ground. K'rrak sat in the stands and stroked his beard. His
grandsons sat stiffly beside him. What thoughts he thought he kept
The Emperor's own
fleet arrived two hours later to escort K'rrak and his packet to
Qo'noS. The Ane Flotilla took the Imperial representative aboard and
all made for Qo'noS at best speed.
Several weeks later
the three ships orbited the Klingon home world. K'rrak had presented
his lineage, and his report before Kahless the Second. Likewise
Taraban of House Taraban was called to give his lineage. He
recounted the fight and gave a very brief summery of the highlights
of Ane history, highlights from the Klingon point of view. Even so
it took him two hours after he said **pardon if I must be very
brief.** Kahless was indefatigable. Then Taraban pulled the
**The House of
Kahless has spread throughout the Klingon Empire. Mighty is the
House that is every house. Yet, it can claim no sons of its own. I
am no Klingon, I have no wish to be a Klingon, yet by my actions I
have been made the head of a House. How can I step aside without
dishonoring the Warriors that have sworn to abide by my words?**
Kahless was all but
bouncing off the throne.
"/How so brave
warrior. Who is mightier than the line founder?/" He spread
his hands indicating the impossibility of the problem. The council
**The founder of
all lines is mightier than the line-founder oh Kahless. Will you
accept the personal allegiance of House Taraban, and make it anew,
the House Kahless?**
He bounced down
from the Bloody Throne and cuffed Taraban up side the head. Taraban
accepted the blow.
Taraban is now House Kahless!/" He roared, a laugh in his
voice. "/Who disputes this!?/" With the cameras
running, they had little choice but agree.
K'rrak stood once
more in the Lounge of the Questing.
"/Where do you
go from here Taraban./"
**Home old friend.
Indeed, I can call you friend, for we have fought, and cried and won
"/We have done
all these things. I can indeed call you friend. Where did you get
the idea that a guest must be protected?/"
**From Humans. It
was the custom in the Ancient times, that the Guest was King. To
protect the guest a host must forsake wealth, life, even honor.**
**One not always
honored, but we thought it a good idea.**
"/Yes, so I
swear it shall be in my house. Even Klingons can learn new things
about honor. Good journey./"
For the last time
K'rrak left the deck of the Questing. Taraban looked out at
the stars, and one faint and distant one that was home.
has been a long time. Fiealan, take us home.**
The Word of the
Builders -- Garry Stahl, January 1998
are an ancient race, older than the Ane. Until recent events the Ane
have hidden knowledge of the Builders so that the technically created
children they had made could grow into a real race.
The mark and
specialty of the builders is Marco-structures. Planet sized space
stations, Ring worlds, Terraforming, moving planets, and Dyson
Spheres. But like any race they have their limits. Questions of
deep philosophic and spiritual meaning are mostly lost on these
When sheer age
threatened the existence of the builders as a race, they approached a
people then knew to be knowers, the Ane, and asked them for an answer
to their problem. After searching what they knew, the Ane suggested
a possible solution. The Builders made the El-Nanth rosette in
exchange for the answer. They also asked the Ane to be the Watchers
of their children, and to tell them when they were at last grown up. To
protect the children the Ane have hidden the origins of the
Rosette, until now.
None of the
original race remains. The current Builders are constructs that over
the last 500,000 years have slowly built themselves from machines
into a true organic race. they are not likely to come out of their
seclusion at any time soon. When they do matters in their immediate
neighborhood will take first priority. Both the Federation of
Planets, and the Klingon Empire have representatives on the Three
Suns stations. This is not a highly desired post from either
April 2007 --
Nine years since I wrote this. Nearly ten years since I wrote
first Trek story. My how the times files. There are many things I
have never been happy about with this story. The main one being the
appearance of the Builders. My original description never satisfied.
However, I don't rewrite. Leave the finished story finished and
Well it finally
got to me. I wanted to do further things with the Builders and that
description needed changing. Since I was going to "Lucas"
the description, I might as well give the whole story a rework. I
hope it has improved.
For the record,
here is the Builder introduction as it first appeared: The
channel opened to show a unicorn, or what at first could be taken for
a unicorn. It had a goat like head, with a meter long horn. The neck
ended in broad shoulders that had two pawed limbs. This tapered back
to a trunk with a single large hind leg. A pair of arms with three
delicate fingers shared the complex shoulder with the legs. Taraban
sat there in shock. The message continued, telepathically.
or questtons on this file? Mail Here
A Rich Text Format version of this story.
Return to -- Epiphany Trek: The Stories
Above is a work of fiction. All characters are fictional, any
resemblance to persons living or dead is coincidental.
Garry Stahl: January 1998. All rights reserved, re-print only with