Standoff on Ferebis 14
By Dominick Pfefferkorn
Breathe… Focus… Calm the anxiety that churns like the winds of a Jovian planet. In my lap, a Lik’tok’ blade given to me as a ceremonial gift, unsheathed, half a meter long from the tip of its wide leaf-shaped blade to the end of its hefty oversized handle that swoops up from the pommel; typical of their culture. Breathe… The metal does not gleam, it has the appearance of worn aluminum; it is not beautiful, it is not meant to be, a tool, treasured in it’s culture by it’s usefulness. Breathe…
Looking up I see my reflection in one of the shuttle craft control panels. While the mission on Lik’tok’ was successful I see how months on that rugged jungle world effected my appearance. My hair perpetually somewhat unkempt; so different from the characteristic coiffure so associated with my people. Irrelevant really, there will be plenty of time to attend that minor detail on the trip back to Vulcan. Breathe… Fifteen hours, eighty-seven minutes to the wormhole, from there a mere two hours and forty minutes on necessary bureaucracies before I board the Vulcan vessel heading to the home world where I can properly attend to the Ponn’ Far. Breathe…
A peal of howling uninhibited laughter interrupts my reverie. To my left sits my friend and fellow cultural attache of the Starfleet Diplomatic corps, Ambassador John Dynios, watching yet another one of those twentieth century Terran comedies that he has such a passion for on his data pad. He would epitomize a negative human stereotype on my home world. Dark haired, tall for a human and a touch corpulent, everything about the man seemed too large to fit any space he was placed; his gestures, his actions, his appetites especially, but mostly his laugh, which could drown out the blare of a red alert. During the past fifteen Terran years I have frequently worked with him…and he has even more frequently tried my patience, however, the man is a skilled diplomat and trusted companion.
He is laughing with such gusto he struggles to breathe and tears are running down his face into his unkempt beard. Breathe… I sit like a statue, rage and desires boiling within, wearing the mask of calm that has been my species salvation, while he chuckles with abandon at a joke centuries old. Especially in these moments, I feel annoyance and no small degree of envy. Breathe… There is such ignorance of what it is to be Vulcan; they think us arrogant, mechanical, they presuppose we do not feel… In truth our emotionality runs rampant, we had to destroy ourselves twice before we allowed the teachings of Surak to save us and even then we had to spend an additional one-thousand-five-hundred years rebuilding our world. Such our salvation, such is our shame… Of course shame is illogical. Breathe…
Looking to the fore of the shuttle I see Major White making a cursory check to the autopilot before returning to whatever amusements he was using to pass the time. A strong, quiet, prim man; his uniform fastidious his hair cropped to within a millimeter of his ebony scalp. Knowing little about the man other than that he was soon to be assigned to an attack lance on the front lines of the Dominion war, I was grateful for his lack of inquisitiveness: I leave him to his thoughts and me to my meditations. Breathe…
Rage inexplicably surges through me, while still sitting as implacably as a glacier, It is so illogical! I want to smash the interior of the shuttle, to destroy everything, everyone around me if it will get me an inch closer to my desire to… to… Breathe… Fifteen hours, eighty-three minutes to the wormhole, from there a mere two hours and forty minutes on necessary bureaucracies before I board the Vulcan vessel heading to the home world where I can properly attend to the Ponn’ Far. Breathe…
The “Qutluch” was a prototype advance long range scout/heavy fighter; the Klingon Empire’s answer to Starfleet’s “Defiant”; the concept was to pack as much range and firepower into a ship that you could easily fit inside of a Bird of Prey. It was roughly one third the size of “The Defiant” designed for a two person crew, one gunner/operations officer and one pilot/navigator. The narrow vessel was typical of of Klingon design, two seats with the gunner’s raised behind the pilot, 2 bunks, the obligatory replicator and lavatory areas, the rest of the ship being dedicated towards oversized engines and weaponry. Ku’dus checked the scanners for what seemed like the thousandth time that hour, knowing that the scanners were set to alarm if anything of interest was found but with her restlessness she knew she would be doing nothing but pacing the narrow path that led from her gunnery seat then between the bunks to the aft of the ship. Seventeen steps each way; she’d counted. Ka’Ros the pilot was lounging irritably at her station looking easily twice as bored and frustrated as her gunner.
“Three more weeks of this before we rejoin the fleet, with neither battle or blood wine! Bah!” said Ku’dus as she leapt down from her seat and began the all too familiar path through the middle of the ship; punching yet another dent into the wall above her bunk without breaking stride. Ka’Ros laughed bitterly “Perhaps when we return to ‘Jangral’ you can take out your frustrations on Commander Mek’tol, I see the way he eyes you.” she teased. “Mek’tol? Mek’tol?” said Ku’dus indignantly, “That cowardly oaf could be frightened off by a Ferengi with a damp bar rag!” Ka’Ros’ laughter drowned out Ku’dus annoyed mutterings, “You’re far to picky with your men, and like me not picky enough with the missions you volunteer for.” “I expected this mission to be full of battle and glory, engaging in ambushes on Jem Hadar bases, not aimlessly wandering the Gamma Quadrant! This is work for the Feddies! Let them fly in circles and let the warriors do our own work!” said Ku’dus as she made a symmetrical dent on the opposite side of her bunk without ceasing her frustrated stride. “Yes the Federation, worthy opponents in space but face to face their blood is water. How can you take anyone who claims to be a soldier seriously who doesn’t at least carry a blade?” Ku’dus grunted her agreement as she stomped down the path she had come to know every scratch and rivet of wondering how her sister was faring aboard “The Jangral”. “I serve the empire to walk the road of blood, not this.”
Like most organisms that spend any amount of time with my associate, Ambassador John Dynios, Major White (who now insists we call him Ray) has now told us his autobiography. Born on Venus colony, his father a low level bureaucrat, his mother a manager at the spaceport, applied to Starfleet at seventeen and is currently rated fifth in the Starfleet boxing league; much to my companion’s delight as he immediately begins to regale him with tales of his own adventures as an amateur boxer. While I have no doubts to my friend’s honesty (I once idly looked up his record and his aptitude did not match his enthusiasm) the only type of boxing I can easily imagine him doing involves him packing up a particularly indulgent lunch. Breathe… Their inane exchange is only adding to my frustrations. Fourteen hours, thirty-six minutes to the wormhole, from there a mere two hours and forty minutes on necessary bureaucracies before I board the Vulcan vessel heading to the home world where I can properly attend to the Ponn’ Far. Breathe…
At least I can be grateful that the subject has not turned to music, the Ambassador’s enthusiasm for Earth opera is renowned.– as is his compulsion to sing. While it is fascinating how sonically similar his massacre of Puccini is to properly performed Klingon opera, years of repetition has substantially faded the entertainment value. Staring down at my hands I detect no visible tremor, it feels like they are shaking violently, like all of me is vibrating like a bowstring. Fourteen hours, thirty-three minutes to the wormhole, from there a mere two hours and forty minutes on necessary bureaucracies before I board the Vulcan vessel heading to the home world where I can properly attend to the Ponn’ Far. Breathe…
As I sheathed the Lik’Tok’ blade I heard the comm link go off, interrupting my companion’s pugilistic reminiscences; it was John’s current (and fourth) wife Laurasia. Like his previous three marriages he met her during an assignment for the Diplomatic Corps; it was shortly before the acceptance of Bajor into the federation and he negotiated her permission to study their archaeological archives; seven years and a pair of sandy haired, five year old twin girls later, it seems that he had finally found a successful life partner; he eagerly awaited rejoining them at DS9 after his eight months of absence as did they. I tried to maintain my composure as I am assaulted by the cacophony of human affection. Breathe…
Miraculously I was able to block out the distraction until John tapped my shoulder.
“Suvod’ak?” Breathe… “Yes…”
“The girls want to say hello to their uncle.”
I stared blankly into his face for an interminable moment. It would be illogical to postpone the inevitable. I knew that look on his face, I knew his daughters; regardless how badly I wished to avoid this conversation, I knew it would only prolong my inconvenience until I acquiesced in order to move on to more enjoyable circumstances. “Very well…”
“Uncle Svodka! Uncle Svodka!” exulted his twins, Francesca and Olympia mispronouncing my name as usual. “Where are you now? When will you get here? Will we get presents?” they asked in overlapping cadence.
“The nearest planet is Ferebis 14, we are thirteen hours, forty-seven minutes to the station and yes, you were brought presents.” the following twenty-two minutes were a blur of prepubescent interrogation as I struggled to maintain my decorum, thankfully Ambassador Dynios took back the reigns of the conversation successfully enough for me to return to my meditations. thirteen hours, twenty-five minutes to the wormhole, from there a mere two hours and forty minutes on necessary bureaucracies before I board the Vulcan vessel heading to the home world where I can properly attend to the Ponn’ Far. Breathe…
A non-emergency klaxon went off jarring Ku’dus from her kinetic reverie, she leapt to her station announcing, “We are approaching sensor range of Ferebis 14, preparing long range scans.”
“Acknowledged.” Ku’dus glared intently at the view ports, boredom and frustration would not spoil their mission performance. Gazing at the incoming data she was not sure if she felt the swell of fire in her blood for battle or the cold certainty of of obliteration; what was certain, however, was that she was glad that they were in cloak. “Ka’Ros”, massing objects just starboard of the planet’s moon.”
“Enhance visuals Commander.” Ku’dus dutifully enhanced the images and saw the tell tale wedges of over a dozen Dominion fighters escorting a massive cargo frigate; doubtlessly carrying troops and materials to establish a garrison on Ferebis 14. That frigate could not be allowed to land.
“The Qutluch” was designed to save space at every possibility therefore no room was left for proton torpedoes, but much like the weapon that is it’s namesake it was designed to be as brutally effective as space allowed. The ship’s primary weapons were four front mounted disruptor cannons, re-purposed from a much larger warship, slaved to fire as one, and while there were no proton torpedoes they carried five massive programmable mines on the exterior of the ship, each of them capable of annihilating a full sized warship of garrison. Tactically the intent was to come out of cloak, target the shields, activate the mine and warp to gather further fire support to clean up the aftermath.
“Raise shields and ready all weapons! Today is a good day to die!” shouted Ka’Ros grinning with excitement. Lit only by the red glow of display screens, Ku’dus face was a mask of grim determination, she was going into truly glorious battle, one that would test both her comrade and she to the outer limits of their formidable skills; she felt the elation of battle rising within her breast but tempered it with restraint. There was no margin for error and that cargo ship must fall. Even if the mission was a success, Stovokor was likely preparing for their arrival. Under cloak “The Qutluch” rapidly zoomed towards the Dominion frigate and it’s fighter escort; Ka’dus prepared and calibrated the smaller defensive phasers located aft, port and starboard while feeding the location of the shield generators to her pilot, with gritted teeth she was poised to fire the moment they were out of cloak knowing they would immediately be swarmed by the twelve wedge like fighters.
They flew towards their target, the freighter looming ever larger in the view screens, the fighters milling lazily around it like deadly satellites. “Target in range in 3… 2… 1… Drop cloak and fire!!” The brick like Klingon vessel materialized near the aft nacelles firing the slaved heavy disruptors; the force of the attack sending violent ripples through the shields like a boulder tossed into a pond, pilot and gunner feeling the deep growling vibration of the weapons discharge through the ship. Four shots of the massively effective forward array were available before the disruptors had to recharge, leaving only the defensive array until the ship was ready for the next pass. Ka’Ros’ immediately banked hard starboard from what was almost a ramming course, the force of the turn tossing them in their seats despite the inertial dampers. Dominion fighters were rallying to defend their freighter, sending wild shots crackling off the “Qutluch’s” shields. Ku’dus was a covered in a sheen of sweat, her face a death’s head in the dim red light of the ship’s interior as she targeted and fired on the rallying fighters. The first two shots scored direct hit on the maneuvering thruster of one of the fighters sending it on a violent spiral, the wedge shape becoming a chisel as it slammed into the freighter.
“Sensors show their shields at fifteen percent!” said Ku’dus. “Kahless is with us today!” exclaimed Ka’Ros’ as she sent the “Qutluch” into a gut churning series of maneuvers trying to evade fire until the main disruptors were charged. Dozens of glancing energy blasts peppered the Klingon ship as it’s own array sent out harassing fire. As Ku’dus was about to announce the shield status a fighter was on a near collision towards the port side aft opening fire, at the last second she fired the entire port array at point blank range destroying the fighter with a jarring explosion. Both shrapnel and weapons damage shook the ship like a child’s toy. “Kud’us Report!” “Shields down to seventeen percent! The entire port side array is non functioning! Fifteen seconds for main disruptors to be ready!” A sobering assessment under the most serene of battle circumstances, but much more so while careening around a three dimensional battlefield with ten more, very angry Jem’ Hadar fighters bent on your destruction.
More glancing shots hit the rapidly weakening shields as Ku’dus did her best to defend her vessel, successfully making a direct hit on the thrusters of one of the enemy leaving it unmaneuverable but taxiing in a straight line. Ka’Ros’ took advantage of this with a sharp upward banking maneuver leading an unobservant pilot to crash spectacularly into his crippled fellow. “Program the mines we’re making the final pass!” yelled Ka’Ros’ “Aye, and disruptors at ready!” With an impossibly sharp turn and gut wrenching acceleration, the ship thrust itself at the Dominion frigate, harassing fire coming from all sides. When the frigate was a looming mass filling the screens Ku’dus opened fire and released the mines, the four disruptor bolts punching directly through a fighter that heroically tried to put itself between the powerful blast and the ship it was to protect. The first mine attached properly and was due to explode in seconds, the second was shot by defenders triggering it perilously close to the “Qutluch”.
In the silence of space there was a massive concussion, sending ships out madly with no semblance of control. While being tossed as if by the hand of an angry god the “Qutluch” collided with a Dominion fighter taking off a large portion of the ships fore. The inside of the ship was the symphony of spark and flame that is the overture of death in a space battle, a planetary landing was their only hope. A second massive concussion rocked the ship; the mine on the freighter. Ka’Ros’ smiled grimly, gripping the controls which were shocking her like a pain stick, ignoring the fact that her hair had caught fire, she rode the concussive wave towards Ferebis 14. “Glorious!” she thought.
I was interrupted from my meditations yet again by Major White announcing that sensors were showing evidence of a massive explosion above the atmosphere of Ferebis 14. Being an essentially unarmed runabout we needed to behave with extreme caution. The seriousness of the situation placed even the ever loquacious Ambassador Dynios under a spell of silence, his face an open book turned to a page of worry. We sat helplessly trusting our safety to the capable hands of Major White as both John and I had only the most rudimentary of experience piloting shuttle craft.
“Uh, oh.” said the Major, “Sensors are picking up what appears to be a damaged Dominion Fighter”. I could see the color draining from my companion’s usually ruddy cheeks. “Attempting to hail, Dominion fighter we are noncombatants delivering diplomats back from the Gamma Quadrant. Repeat we are noncombatants. Do you need us to send a distress signal?” At that the fighter opened fire shaking our ship with impact. Major White sent us on a desperate evasion course as the fighter fired blast after blast at us; if it were not for the fact that the fighter was somewhat hobbled by damage we would have been vaporized already. However even a damaged fighter was far more nimble and better armed than a simple transport shuttle and we were taking heavy damage.
“Brace yourselves for a crash landing! Shields are down and thrusters are nonexistent!!” he shouted. More shots pummeled our small vessel, sparks flew throughout the cockpit sending the smells of ozone and burning plastics throughout the ship. The world began to spin horizontally and vertically as the Major fought to keep some semblance of control for what seemed like eternity. Then a with a massive impact we hit the ground, coinciding with a much appreciated lapse of consciousness.
Ku’dus stirred somewhat stunned from her command chair and fell the two meters to the floor with a groan; she was bruised and singed, suffering from a few minor fractures but unharmed by Klingon standards. “Alive and victorious!” she chuckled, coughing from the still smoldering remains. “Ka’Ros’ you were glorious!” she shouted, greeted only by silence. It took seconds for her to find her comrade, hair and clothes still smoldering, burned and crushed, her hands skeletonized, still gripping the controls, a insouciant prideful smile on what was left of her face. “You died well my sister-in-arms.” as she raised her head and screamed a belated warning to the afterlife that a truly great Klingon warrior was about to join your ranks.
Survival became the foremost thought on Ku’dus mind, first assembling the
two hand disruptors on board and gathering as many power cells as she could find; she strapped her mek’leth to her hip to accompany her daq’tagh, the communications array seemed damaged but potentially repairable. For now that could wait. The survival kit was mostly intact, however the idea of having yet another meal of compact rations after all these weeks of them was unappealing. “Fresh meat will happen at first opportunity.” she thought as she surveyed the damp reed like plains and rolling hills. Grabbing the long range scope she climbed out of the wreckage to survey her perimeter.
I regain my faculties in a nightmare parody of the runabout, upside down and at a forty five degree angle, smoke still seeping out of the charred and crumpled walls, light pouring in from the rear hatch that came open during impact. I breathe deeply to clear my head and am rewarded with a lungful of acrid smoke. “Stupid… Stupid..” I thought still dizzy from concussion and the writhing throes of Ponn Far. “Suvod’ak? Suvod’ak?” I heard weakly. “John!” I flew the two paces to where he lie trapped in an obscene tangle of metal. Part of the wall had wrapped diagonally across him, crushing him, only his right arm and head exposed. Blood and burns covered what I could see of him, matting his beard, bubbling frothy at his lips and by his chest. No tricorder was required to know he was without hope—minutes at best. Grasping his hand “I am here my friend.” Tears ran down his face, his lungs too compressed to sob, “I’m scared… So… scared… I don’t want to…” he drew several shallow desperate breaths. “All I’ve lived… All I’ve known… Gone… My…wife…the girls…” I sat in silence feeling a loss for words, helpless as my colleague expired before me. “Can you… I just want part… of me to… live.. ” He pleaded to me with his eyes, “The mind meld?” I asked. His eyes wet with tears I saw him plead; despite my situation there was no way I could deny his request. With hands trembling like branches in a storm I reached out to his face, tears beginning to run down my own face. “My mind to your mind…” Images, memories and passions, oh the passions, flooded into me, a maelstrom of experience; his hand desperately grabbing my arm as if trying to hang on to the life he so desperately wanted to continue. I felt his humor, his joy and shockingly such sadness, such deep sadness. A man I have known for fifteen years and to my discredit often wrote of as a jolly oaf wore his humor as a spacesuit to protect him from the galaxy. Until this moment had I ever really known the man? I looked him in the eye as he smiled as my thoughts poured into him and with a final tightening of his grasp he left this world.
I sobbed, weather it the Ponn Far or part of him, I raged, I shook. Soon it was time to ascertain the fate of Major White. It was not necessary to take more than a step to see what became of him. The cockpit was a charnel house; Major White… Ray… was reduced to a mass of charred gore. Furious I slammed my right fist into the bulkhead leaving a dent and a splatter of green blood from my knuckles. “Damn them! Damn them!” I yelled, trying to find some sense of logic in all this but failing.
Eventually logic prevailed enough for me to asses my situation and try to salvage what I could in order to improve my odds for survival; presuming the effects of an unmanaged Ponn Far did not ensure my oblivion. The communication system, as well as anything else in the aft compartment was annihilated and unsalvageable, most of the emergency supplies were hopelessly entombed in twisted metal. Fortunately I was able to salvage a partial emergency kit, a tricorder, two hand phasers (one of them damaged), five phaser batteries and a macro-binocular. As I was about to leave the remnants of the shuttle I remembered the Lik’Tok’ blade and attached it in it’s sheath to my belt. Breathe… Focus… Survive…
Ku’dus made the easy climb to the top of the nearest hill and trained her long range scope towards the pencil smudge of smoke that was making a lazy serpentine towards the troposphere, tracing downward from the smoke she saw the ruins of the frigate they had brought down; between the black of the carbon scoring and the shattered remains, it reminded her of a Cardassian taspar egg fallen from it’s nest. Zooming to maximum magnification she saw roughly fifty Jem’ Hadar soldiers, some walking in a daze, others attending to dead and wounded. She scanned the area further and found no trace of the Vorta who hold the leashes of the Dominions fighting dogs. “Hmm…” she thought, “No Vorta no white, no white no unit control or discipline. It seems that there will be more opportunity for glory today.”
She continued her surveillance noting Jem’ Hadar haphazardly attempting to dig through the wreckage while some created the optimistic beginnings of a perimeter. There was no visible sign of heavy weaponry though she was too far away to see if any bore sidearms, she would not have long before they began to fan out and explore the area. Her mind raced to decide which was the greater priority, prepare for ambush or attempt to fix the communicator. In the end duty prevailed over self preservation; the Empire must be informed of this development so that they can increase patrols in the area, if her life be forfeit it will be bought by a sea of Jem’ Hadar blood.
I scowled at the tricorder readings as I squatted by a fruit bearing ground cover plant that was at the feet of the ubiquitous chest high “reeds” that thrived on this planet, the alkaloids contained within were poisonous to Vulcans; while I was able to scavenge two days worth of emergency rations this was a concern since I had no knowledge of when or if I would be rescued. Surreptitiously I scanned a fascinating species of local fauna, a narrow bodied mammalian animal that was boar like in profile but with a dorsal thickness of less than ten centimeters, evolved to run quickly amongst the “reeds”; it showed that if I fastidiously avoided the liver and kidneys of of it I would be safe; illogical as it would be to allow myself to starve, I still found the concept distasteful. A shivering sweat convulsed me briefly, I must not allow the Ponn Far to get the better of me. Survival, a prized Vulcan value. I survived my kaswann as a child in the wilderness of my home world as a child, I shall survive this kaswann as an adult. Breathe… Focus… Survive… I decided to head in the direction of a faint line of smoke in the distance, perhaps a sign of civilization.
A steady stream of Kilingon obscenities could be heard murmuring from within the ruined interior of the “Qutluch” as Ku’dus battled to remove what was left of the communicator from the control surface. Knowing that the ship would be the first likely target of the disorganized Jem’ Hadar forces, she finally freed the panel with a mixture of brute force and expertise. Wrapping the half meter square in a survival blanket she brought it out into the light to best assess the damage. After three fourths of an hour, even more foul language filled the atmosphere. The comm could be repaired if she could find another phase transducer to replace the one that was irreparably burnt out; the only other one she knew of on the ship was likely out in orbit after being sheared off the by the collision. Her pondering of the current electronic complication was interrupted by a rustling in the distant reeds; she grabbed her disruptor and scope and hurried to cover.
Suddenly several narrow bodied animals burst out, spooked, through the “reeds” moving more like a shoal of fish than mammals; she felt her stomach rumble at the thought of fresh meat but now was not the time to be distracted. Several seconds later a Jem’ Hadar trudged through behind them, brandishing his bayonet, silently Ku’dus sheathed her disruptor and drew her mek’leth and snuck to the close to her quarry, taking off the top third of his skull as he turned around. Despite his silent death there was a practical stampede of those odd mammals signaling the advance of his comrades. The melee was about to begin.
As I made my way through the “reeds” I was startled by a stampede of those strange mammals I encountered that I had dubbed reed swimmers, briefly concerned for my safety I was relieved that they were as adept at navigating around my legs as they were the local flora. I raised my macro-binoculars to ascertain the source of their distress and was shocked at what I saw. “Jem’ Hadar…” Upon further inspection I saw a female Klingon fighting off several of them with a disruptor and a mek’leth I drew my phaser as a red mist of rage overwhelmed me. “They murder no one else today!”
Ku’dus struggled with her opponents, seeing more coming from the distance, firing her disruptor and striking out with her mek’leth trying to carve out some space to maneuver from the gore and body strewn ground at her feet; her world no more than the slash of blade, the acrid tang of discharge and the half meter around her. The press of bodies was about to result in a hard bought victory for the Jem’ Hadar when she saw phaser beams striking at them from behind her. She risked the fraction of a second to glance in the direction of her reinforcement; a robed figure howling in fury, running towards the battle while firing upon the enemy. “This day has offered yet another surprise.”
The specifics of the melee were somewhat blurred by the all encompassing rage; be it from Ponn Far, grief or the effects of my recent mind meld I will never know. I do remember running towards the fray firing to kill with maximum prejudice. In my haste I had grabbed the malfunctioning phaser and noticed it was going into overload, I threw it towards a group of Jem’ Hadar eleven o clock to my position causing them severe injury as it exploded. The Lik’Tok’ blade found it’s way to my hand and shortly after cleaved into the chest of one of the enemy; I drew the second phaser with my left hand and fired at the more distant soldiers knowing my limited ammunition, three meters away from where the Klingon female was making good use of the space my shots had bought. With every stride the fighting became closer and the blade had become an extension of my rage, I was fully in the throes of Ponn’ Far; this part of my people that we still so strive to purge, the anger, the rage, the blood lust; the thoughtless, white-hot psychotic purity of combat. Every moment was like a flickering strobe light, the crush and impact of bodies, the smell of offal and the acrid ozone scent of of a phaser set to kill; too fast to think running on instinct only dimly aware of my own injuries as the green of my blood wrote it’s own tale on the indigo of my robes.
“Truly this is what it is to walk the road of blood!” thought Ku’dus in the elation of battle, feeling her blood roaring through her veins flooded with endorphins. She fostered a second glance at the mysterious warrior drawing ever nearer to her with admiration, “Ferocious, fearless… A Vulcan?” that moment’s surprise almost cost her dearly as a bayonet made a glancing cut across her ridge; sudden irritation at her moments distraction cost her enemy his hand and head in rapid recourse. His phaser was no longer discharging and was replaced with a Jem’ Hadar bayonet held in an icepick grip with his left hand, fighting with increasingly feral abandon. “Vulcan catch!” she shouted tossing him her disruptor and drawing the second one in her belt. While the firearm was still in air he threw the bayonet into the chest of another enemy before deftly catching it and blasting more space for them to fight in as they found themselves back to back. “Today is a good day to die!” she exclaimed, “To day they murder no more!” was his reply as he struck down another soldier with his blade.
The battle continued for several more heartbeats before they found themselves quite surprisingly alone. Winded they stood, pain filling the space left empty by the rush of battle. “Let us find camp and tend to our wounds while they regroup, assuming we left any alive.” smiled Ku’dus as she picked up her damaged communicator. Suvod’ak, fighting nausea, nodded his agreement, and followed her through the reeds. Caked in dirt and gore they walked in silence for a few moments Ku’dus apparently unconcerned with their state, Suvod’ak quite uncomfortable. “Aha! This day continues to be more fortunate! We eat well in victory this evening!” She exulted as she held up the body of a reed swimmer, the top of it’s head cleanly shorn off by a stray phaser blast. He felt his stomach protest yet again. “Starvation is illogical.” he reminded himself knowing the logic of saving the rations for when a meal is not so easily found.
They took shelter in a natural depression at the bottom of one of the many rolling hills that created a natural wind break and was relatively free of reeds. “Get a fire going Vulcan I’ll prepare the feast.” Suvod’ak sighed and broke out the dish sized fire kit from his pack and activated it as he piled the moisture rich reeds on top of it resulting in reddish glowing light and scaldingly hot steam. “You fought well Vulcan.” she said as she used her mek’leth to break down the reed swimmer carcass. “I am Gunnery Commander Ku’dus of the recently destroyed ‘Qutluch’ and you.” “Ambassador Suvod’ak, Federation Cultural Attache, specifically of the Arts and Archeology division.” Ku’dus laughed throatily as she unceremoniously tossed the butterflied animal hair side down onto the hot dish. Suvod’ak winced at the acrid smell of burning hair and looked up at her as if seeing her for the first time. She stood arms akimbo her face open, confident, triumphant; that free laugh of hers reminded him of John, he was not sure if it was the Ponn Far talking, but there was “something” about this woman whom he had both just met and defended with his life. In the back of his head his late friend said something both lewd and endearing.
“A diplomat?” she chuckled as she shrugged off the bulkier parts of her armor, wincing as it obviously aggravated many of the deep cuts she occurred. “Now I know while Vulcan negotiators are taken so seriously. I never know you people had it in you.” “My species is capable of quite a great deal under the correct circumstances. We were a suicidally warlike race for milennia before embracing logic and even then we had to destroy ourselves twice to learn.” He had no idea why he volunteered this information, his own thoughts a mystery to him; he shrugged off his tattered outer robe to distance himself somewhat from the filth and began to assess his own injuries, his arms and torso were ribboned with slashes and contusions as was she; he began to muster the energy to get what medical supplies they had, distracted by… a great number of things.
Ku’dus flipped the meat, pondering this male conundrum in front of her. Less than two hours ago he was a glorious instrument of destruction now he sat at the fire almost meekly rocking slightly. Even amongst her people had she ever seen such ferocity “And from a Vulcan diplomat?” he also didn’t look too unpleasant for a man without ridges. She moved to grab medical supplies and winced as she reopened a particularly deep cut across her rib cage. “Questions and medicine will both be simpler once our bellies are full.” she thought.
Suvod’ak waited with a distinct lack of anticipation for the meat to finish cooking, feeling quite amiss from injury and the ubiquitous symptoms of Ponn Far. “So Vulcan, how did you find yourself so conveniently on this world?” asked Ku’dus as she pulled a decidedly undercooked leg off the still roasting reed swimmer. With a pained expression he told her of the ship, the attack, his friend, the deaths. “Your friend, did he die well?” Ambassador John Dynios’ memories swirled across Suvod’ak’s mind, after a lengthy pause he replied, “He lived well… He will be missed by many…” Ku’dus smiled and nodded then began to tell her story, of the battle, of the sacrifice of the heroism of her pilot. Half listening Suvod’ak found himself admiring this Klingon woman; he had never spent more than a cursory amount of time around Klingons and to his detriment, had dismissed them as primitive psychopaths, but now as he listened to her speak, with such surety and lack of doubt he wondered if despite their excesses they might be saner than he. His reverie was interrupted as she tossed a reed swimmer leg into his lap, “Stop being so glum and eat Vulcan, we have lived legend today. “Yes dear…” he found himself murmuring the sound of John’s laughter echoing in the back of his head. Suvod’ak was not so much eating as moving the leg around as if to find an angle of attack. “Is it meat or a puzzle why don’t you eat?” He sighed, “My culture is usually vegetarian and odd as it may sound we have a mild aversion to eating with our hands.” It was illogical to him how embarrassed he felt, this was soon solved by the thunk of a dak’tag impacting into the haunch of his meal. “Eat with this my delicate friend.” she laughed; despite everything he found it inexplicably endearing.
Meal eaten it was time to attend to their wounds “Well we might as well get this over with Vulcan.” Ka’dus said as she stripped to her underclothes. Suvod’ak self consciously prepared the dermal regenerator feeling somewhat ridiculous for being uncomfortable. “You are being illogical…” he thought, as a montage of Ambassador Dynio’s teenage recollections crossed unbidden across his mind. “This is a necessary medical procedure.” “You may experience some discomfort.” he said, smirking she said, “Have you noticed I’m a Klingon, Vulcan?” He looked her up and down; he had noticed a great many things and could swear he could hear his friend’s laughter dimly in the background. With shaky handed professionalism he meticulously ran the dermal regenerator over the myriad lacerations that seemed to be spread across her entire body, that she had received in the grand melee; far from ignorant of the phermonal musk of a well formed Klingon female. “If it were not for Ponn Far this would not be so… distracting…” he thought, rewarded again with the recollection of of a thousand potential comments his late friend would have made.
After what seemed like an eternity he was done, Ku’dus stretched lithely and said “Good enough job Vulcan, now its your turn.” Words escaped this master negotiator and diplomat. “Oh come now don’t be a child. Or are you afraid I wont be ‘gentle’.” Her smile was dizzying, it confused him; he stood and awkwardly stripped down to facilitate the much needed treatment. With excruciating slowness she ran the dermal regenerator across his wounds, frequently dragging a less than professional hand across him, resulting in an involuntary shudder, that mischievous smile never leaving her face, her nostrils occasionally flaring in a concerning manner. “What’s the matter Vulcan, never been around a ‘girl’ before?” “Damn that laugh!” he thought knowing he was visibly aroused, “It is… embarrassing…” “Do tell…” she said. He took a deep breath not knowing why he was about to say this, “Every seven years a Vulcan goes into a state known as the Ponn Far…” “Continue..” she said intrigued. “It is a state where we succumb to a irresistible mating urge… that is potentially deadly to us…” If Vulcans could blush he would have. “Poor Vulcan, only once every seven years, no wonder you’re all so… repressed.” “No,” he said “It only becomes medically complicated every seven years… The rest of the time we have the same options of other species.” “Well, it looks like I’ve one more wound to tend to.” Ku’dus kissed him passionately, slicing open his bottom lip on her teeth. Any resistance gone he returned her affections with abandon as she threw them both to the ground with significant force. A while later Suvod’ak lay on his back with a sleeping Ku’du’s head resting on his chest under a federation issue survival blanket, feeling palpably better. “Well that was certainly interesting..” he thought, followed closely by, “I think I might have a hairline fracture to my clavicle.”
Suvod’ak awoke to a now familiar chuckle, “Wake Vulcan, lets see if I can find further use for you.” He struggled disdainfully into his gore stiffened clothes, wishing he had some means to wash them. “Let’s see if we can repair this comm unit.” He studied the damaged unit, the phase transducer was beyond repair, “Perhaps, I can take parts from my phaser and tricorder to approximate the function of the damaged part.” “Well, get to work Vulcan, I’ll go make sure our perimeter is secure.” she said slamming a fresh energy cell into her disruptor. As he got to work he pondered the past twenty eight hours, everything that had happened to him before seemed like a lifetime ago; and the Klingon woman Ku’dus… perplexed him in a not entirely unpleasant way.
Ku’dus stealthily retraced her steps to where the battle raged the day before, noting with satisfaction the sheer number of bodies they left in their wake. She kicked over one of the bodies and noted it swarming with small lamprey like scavengers, “Feast well little friends, perhaps we’ll provide you with another banquet today as well.” Raising her long range scope to scan the Dominion crash site, her mind wandered to Suvod’ak, “An interesting man.” Being used to Klingon males she had never encountered a personality so filled with contradictions, “A Vulcan in Ponn’ Far is an enjoyable thing, I wonder what they’re like the rest of the time… I might have to find out.” Her thoughts snapped back into focus when she saw new smoke trails in the distance. Zooming to greater magnification she saw three, obviously damaged but certainly serviceable Jem’ Hadar fighters coming in for a landing near the crash site. With haste she started back to the campsite hoping the Vulcan’s skill with electronics matched his fighting acumen.
After much struggling Suvod’ak had finally gotten the comm unit in a semblance of functioning, serendipitously Ku’dus was running up to where they had camped. He was about to open his mouth to speak when she breathlessly said, “Three Jem’ Hadar fighters, is the comm working?” “Yes I…” “Move!” she said practically knocking him over as her fingers flew over the controls. “Attention Klingon vessels! Attention Klingon vessels!” she shouted into the comm. She was rewarded quickly by a blast of static and the guttural sounds of her native language. “This is the ‘Jangral’, what do you want?” She laughed, “This is Ku’dus half-sister of your captain, we are on Ferebis 14, crashed! Dominion forces were attempting to establish a garrison! They have fighters! Request reinforcements and extraction! I’m sending coordinates now!” A painful few seconds passed, “We can be there in eleven hours from our current heading, can you hold position?” “We are warriors do you need to ask?”
They huddled under cover waiting for their extraction when they heard a ayrithmial noise overhead; it was one of the damaged Jem’ Hadar fighters flying at a very low altitude, almost kissing the top of the large hill they were in the shelter of. Thirty seconds later they heard the bark of energy weapons coming from where the federation transport had crashed. Ku’dus watched the ships progress intently as it looped around and headed toward the Dominion crash zone, shortly afterwords there was a second explosion from the direction of the “Qutluch”, she scurried to the top of the hill and viewed it with her rangefinder before Sucod’ak could protest; their aim was off and the explosion rolled the wrecked vessel belly up. “Good she thought I can use this.” “What are you doing?” said Suvod’ak, “We only need to hide for another ten hours and thirty eight minutes in order to be rescued.” She smiled, “Did you see how low the flight was? Also his shots were inaccurate. That means that his sensors are malfunctioning and he is working by line of sight. We can use that to our advantage.”
Suvod’ak had only known her for several hours but it felt like twenty years at this moment. “Come with me to the summit I’ll show you what I have planned.” He sighed and acquiesced for the moment. She handed him the long range scope and said, “Do you see those three black domes on the belly of the ship? They are homing mines, inert until activation. They have limited guidance capabilities being designed either as bombs or space combat mines. If we can lure a fighter close enough to them I can activate and trigger the device.” “How can we activate the device without the shipboard controls?” he asked. “We’ll have to modify the comm to use as a remote control.” she said. “I have no idea how to do that.” said Suvod’ak “Well I do, get out of the way.”
“I am about to do the most suicidally idiotic act of my entire life.” thought Suvod’ak as he approached the remnants of the “Qutluch”. He gripped the disruptor and waited for the fighter to pass by on it’s patrol, his patience was far from tried, since within minutes the tell tale stutter of the damaged engine filled his ears; he fired several shots before the Jem’ Hadar fighter began to swoop down and he began to run for cover. The black dome of the mine rose up then magnetically attatched itself inexorably to the ship; throwing off it’s balance; the pilot tried a futile barrel roll to remove the deadly ordinance but to no avail. A massive explosion filled the sky, the concussion wave sending Suvod’ak through the air and slamming him into one of the many hills. “If I can survive the next nine hours forty three minutes, two more fighters, an unknown amount of soldiers and Ku’du’s plans the rest of my life will be comparatively easy.”
“You were brave my Vulcan.” said Ku’dus as Suvod’ak limped back into their camp and collapsed onto the suddenly very comfortable ground. “I hope your friends are punctual. That is all I have to say.” She grabbed him by the lapels of his robe and kissed him roughly, “There will be time for rest on board ship, we need to keep moving.” Moving was the logical action he told himself as he gathered his reserves and followed her in a running crouch through the thick reeds. “Nine hours, sixteen minutes to go.” he thought, his body protesting with every step.
Stuttering and intermittent the sound of an even more damaged fighter made Ku’dus and Suvod’ak throw themselves to the ground, grateful for the cover of the reeds. They ventured a gaze at the ship flying past them its port side undulating like a slowly flapping wing as the engine struggled to keep it aloft. “They must be desperate to find us if they send that to look for us.” she chuckled. Suvod’ak was apprehensive, “True the fighter could barely stay in the air, but even at quarter power a single blast they would still vaporize them and they still had seven hours and forty three minutes to go—assuming the “Jangral” arrived on time.”
They had spent the past few hours stealthily moving through the reeds, their circuitous route succeeding so far in keeping them hidden. “Four hours and twenty eight minutes.” thought Suvod’ak “Then this ordeal ends.” An odd sensation hit his gut, the likeliness of Ku’dus and he going their separate ways after all this was statistically viable but disturbing to him. “What has been happening to me?” he thought as he trudged through the high reeds. Ku’dus was also lost in uncharacteristic thoughts when in the distance she noticed five Jem’ Hadar in the distance. She viewed them with her long range scope and noticed that two of them had pulse rifles, bayonets fixed. Suvod’ak and she drew their disruptors, reluctant to begin firing and attract the damaged but deadly fighter; it was obvious that they were trying to flush them out into the open, a solution to their current problem was far less so.
A handful more Jem’ Hadar were closing in making a perimeter; their options were rapidly dwindling. They shared a meaningful glance, within minutes hiding would no longer be an option, obviously the soldiers with rifles were the priority from there they had a chance. With a unspoken count to three they popped up from the reeds and concentrated their fire at the enemy with rifles; the remaining Jem’ Hadar charged. Ku’dus and Suvod’ak discharged their weapons into the rapidly advancing troops knowing that they would be spent long before they ran out of enemies. Like a slow motion nightmare the wobbly fighter awkwardly swooped down and began to fire; luckily it’s undulating flight caused the blasts to miss his intended quarry and sent several of his fellow Jem’ Hadar to their doom. Ku’dus took advantage of the space made by the blast and ran to where the Jem’ Hadar riflemen lay grabbing the more powerful pulse rifles and throwing one towards Suvod’ak. Pistol whipping a Jem’ Hadar with his now spent disruptor, Suvod’ak dove towards the rifle, snatching it up and opening fire on three rapidly advancing troops.
The tell tale keen of the damaged fighter came into hearing range again, Ku’dus fired off several shots at it’s weaker port side destroying the maneuvering thruster and sending it spiraling into a nearby hill with a satisfying explosion. Once again she and Suvod’ak found themselves fighting back to back, blasting away at distant enemies and using the fixed bayonets to finish off those who came into close quarters. Miraculously they once again found themselves standing alive, yet again escaping the killing field; after a few long heartbeats they embraced tightly. “We are alive! We will be rescued!” thought Suvod’ak uncharacteristically smiling. Ku’dus was breathless and elated pleasantly surprised today was not the day she met her end in glorious battle.
The massive shiver of transporter activity broke the spell of their victory. Still embracing they looked around an entire phalanx of fresh and well armed Jem’ Hadar troops had been beamed into the area surrounding them. Over a public address speaker they heard the voice of a Vorta, “Drop your weapons and surrender for questioning or die where you stand.” Suvod’ak looked into Ku’du’s eyes, “You have absolutely no intention of surrendering do you?” She smiled. He took a deep breath, “So this is how it ends.” he thought, “I have lived my life as a Vulcan, now I will die as a Klingon.” As they were about to turn to meet their fate the angry scream of Klingon fighters tore through the sky, sending vicious blasts into the Jem’ Hadar phalanx scattering their formation; seconds later dozens of Klingon warriors were beamed into position, firing disruptor rifles and advancing into the fray with bat’leth. Ku’dus and Suvod’ak shared a smile broke their embrace and threw themselves into the melee.
The Klingon forces routed the Jem’ Hadar and captured the Vorta alive for interrogation, the Federation and Empire would certainly increase patrols in the area to prevent the Dominion from establishing garrisons so close to the wormhole. Their rescuers had yet to hear their story and were obviously amused with the gore soaked Vulcan who had fought so bravely with them; if they had known the half of it they would have been amused doubly so. Suvod’ak lingered with Ku’dus exhausted and silent, watching the sun set. “So Vulcan, what now? I suppose you’d like a ride to a Federation star base.” Suvod’ak paused, his life before he boarded that shuttle craft seemed a millenia ago, “My destination is irrelevant to me at the moment… What I would like is to remain in your presence.” She smiled devilishly, “You realize you’ll be the only Vulcan on a Klingon vessel. It will cause much scandal and controversy. The fighting alone… It sounds delicious.” This time he kissed her, uncaring who witnessed his display of affection. As they waited to beam up to the ship he thought, “I now step into the unknown. I do not know what I will do. I do not know if this will last. I do not even know what this is. But what I do know is right here, right now, I want to be wherever she is… and that is enough.