Exposing the Infected Klingon
Episode 5: Better Angels
Location: Qo'nos, Grand Hall
Timeline: Immediately after "Orbital Showdown"
The shuttle rocked as they descended through the tumultuous atmosphere. The thunderstorms over the First City were intense at the moment, casting their path in ominous flashes of lightning.
Captain Reynolds looked out the rain-flecked windows as they dropped further into the cloud cover, watching the raindrops evaporate upon hitting the vehicles polarized hull. She felt her breath shorten and mentally tried to calm herself. Panicking about the situation wouldn't help.
She tugged at her uniform straightening it slightly. She'd opted for the high neck variant over her dress uniform. Mobility could prove more useful than decorum in this instance, and she wasn't sure that the Klingons would care.
The console in front of her chirped. A brief glance down indicated that they'd been assigned a platform to land on. "Mr. Rawlins, I'm feeding you the coordinates for our landing platform now. Bring us in nice and smooth. Don't need to make them jumpy."
Dante nodded tersely, keeping his eyes, and his attention focused on the console before him. Flying through a storm like this, especially one on a planet with a thicker, more temperamental atmosphere could get deadly real fast if you weren't careful. As the coordinates flashed up on his screen he reached out and accepted them, making them his ultimate destination. With a few more taps he'd calculated the best route through the storm to ensure they got to where they were going safely.
"Course locked in, Captain. ETA approximately five minutes.", he said, still not taking his eyes from the view in front of them, and his console.
She looked over her shoulder at the men seated in the second row. "Just so we're all on the same page. We'll land, request an audience with the high council, and make our case regarding the parasites. I anticipate push back, from both the infected and non-infected members. We'll then call out General Luqet somehow. At that point, Mr. Pierce will engage him in one-on-one combat."
"Understood, Captain," Ian replied, "I'll lay on the charm for my part. The rest is up to Colby here. I know he can pull it off."
Colby sat quietly in his chair. "I shall try to be victorious, Captain. I shall stake my honor on the outcome."
"You'll be staking your life on it," Charlotte said.
"Sometimes honor is more important than death, captain."
Charlotte turned, staring him dead in the eyes. Her voice was ice. "Ensign, let me say this bluntly. Today, I don't give a damn about your honor. You are very likely about to fight a parasite-infected Klingon to the death. If you fail, it won't besmirch your armor. It will likely get every member of the Defiant crew killed and plunge the quadrant into war for decades." She paused for a moment. "You are going to fight him with every resource you have. Dishonorable blows, biting, taking out his eyes. I don't care what you have to do. You are going to win. There is no other alternative. If you can't put your honor aside for the sake of the quadrant, then you can stay and guard the shuttle. Do I make myself clear?"
"I will do whatever is necessary to defeat my opponents, Captain."
The Captain let out a sigh. "Ok. Sorry, I just...I don't enjoy being placed in a situation like this. I'm doing everything I can to bring every member of the Defiant crew home. I just don't want to go losing people over things that don't matter by comparison."
"Never apologize, Captain, some say it's a sign of weakness," Colby responded.
"Now's not a good time to test my patience, Ensign," she replied. "But for the record, I view the ability to apologize as a sign of maturity and strength of character."
Charlotte composed herself and faced forward again. She pulled up a readout on her terminal. "Alright, we're setting down momentarily. Everyone get ready."
Doing his best to ignore the rather uncomfortable situation unfolding behind him Dante focused on the job at hand. Five minutes had gone by quickly and he could see the landing pad outside the council chamber below them.
"Coming in for a landing now, Captain.", he said, and then lowered them softly to the thermoconcrete landing pad with a hiss of thruster exhaust.
The rear hatch of the shuttle opened and Captain Reynolds was the first to exit. Redgrave was right at her side, hand on her phaser rifle. Lt. Acainus would follow first after, followed by the last two.
Colby followed the group. He eyed the Klingon as they approached. Colby's eyes never left the Klingon's eye's.
They walked the brief distance until they were under the canopy and out of the rain. Charlotte gave a respectful nod to the Klingon dignitary who approached them, activating the universal translator on her communicator. "I am Captain Charlotte Reynolds of the USS Defiant. As my message stated, I have a matter of utmost importance to discuss with the High Council. It has ramifications that could affect both of our worlds."
The Klingon looked at her skeptically. His bushy eyebrows furrowed together. When he spoke, the small beaded strands of his beard bounced in a strangely distracting way. "You have been granted an audience. But we shall see if your claim has merit. The Council does not take your trespass here lightly." A dark smile spread across his face. "After all, we are at war." His voice carried a bizarre entertainment.
Ian approached the Klingon, he didn't quite get in his personal space but it was dangerously close"Yes, we're in a war," he said looking up at the much larger humanoid without showing an ounce of fear, "a war that's costing both sides thousands of good men and women. A war neither side is going to be winning anytime soon."
"But we're not here to argue the merits of that war or its foolishness. We both have bigger problems. A great Terran religious leader said that a house divided against itself can't stand. Right now that's what we're both facing."
"And that's a topic we'll discuss after we've won the challenge."
"The challenge?" The man's ridged face took on a look of confusion.
Charlotte spoke up before he could offer more. "Take us to the council and you might just find out what we're talking about."
Unable to come up with more of a response, the man led them further into the stone fortress. Hallway after hallway lined with Klingon warriors. They seemed to be traveling in circles, perhaps to further the feeling of being lost or exaggerate the number of soldiers. Charlotte began to wonder if she'd grossly miscalculated the situation they were in. But finally, they arrived in what must have been the great hall.
Seated in raised alcoves around the room were 23 groups of Klingons, members of each of the great houses. 23 faces gazing down at them with skeptical eyes, eager to forgo the pleasantries and move to the combat. Or at least, that's what her preconceived notions of the Klingons told her. Upon further examination, there were a few faces which appeared far less hostile. A regally dressed woman on the far left end seemed eager to hear what the Starfleet officers had to say and skeptical of her compatriots. An older man with a snow-white beard seemed tired by the charade. A girl who appeared a bit too young to sit on the council looked on with a friendly smile. Perhaps they were not among enemies. Simply among people on the other side of the war.
Pierce glanced around, sizing up potential opponents. He was trying to appear calm, even though his stomach was churning. His body was eager for combat.
Ian was just as mesmerized, just as confused as his two Federation companions. It was only his self-discipline and years of training that kept it from being obvious. He was relieved to see the woman smiling at them. It wasn't especially warm, but it was far better than a frown and did at least give him some hope.
He had spent a lot of time practicing his Klingon. So, he took a deep breath and cleared his throat. "Honor," he said in the assembled's native language, "and courage are important to both our cultures and that is why we, my Captain, our Champion and I stand before you today to prove both our honor and courage to you."
"We come to you not through Federation traditions, but through your own to show you respect, respect you deserve."
"If... when we win this challenge then we will present evidence that could change the outcome of the war, that could impact the relationship between our peoples and at the very least make you aware of a danger that is being kept hidden from you."
"But all of that is for later." He went over to Colby and lifted his arm into the air, "this is our Champion, the one who has been chosen to represent us. Who is your Champion? Who will stand for you?"
His Klingon wasn't flawless, it certainly was delivered with his Akadian accent, he just hoped it was enough to impress.
The young Klingon who had greeted them on the pad was the first to speak up. "Mighty Council, I offer myself as Champion to the Empire!" A small spattering of cheers filled the room.
A massive Klingon decked in wartime regalia. He was older but in shockingly good shape. His greying hair formed long flowing locks halfway down his back. "No. I will be our Champion."
The room seemed somewhat surprised by this. The wizened Klingon Charlotte had spotted earlier looked annoyed. "General Luqet, this is not a distant battlefield. You cannot 'command' your way through hand-to-hand combat."
Luqet sneered at him. "B'vek, I would be glad to demonstrate that I am more than capable hand-to-hand." He made a gesture to two of the guards standing nearby and the two men stepped forward, presenting arms. There were bat'leths, mek'leths, and d'k tahgs. Luqet gestured toward them as he made eye contact with Colby. "Choose your weapon. I will let you decide our type of contact, Champion."
Colby starred at the weapons. Each had advantages as well as disadvantages. A bat'leth had a longer reach, the mek'leths were shorter so a battle needed to be close combat, and the d'k tahgs were used for straight out one on one warfare. You'd never use a d'k tahgs if the other person was using a bat'leth.
He picked up one of the mek'leths."I have chosen!"
Luqet snickered. "The mek'leth. An interesting choice." He picked up one of his own, twirling it with impressive skill. It was clear the General was very proficient in the weapon. The battle would be difficult even without the physical augmentation the parasite provided. Luqet stepped toward the center of the room, holding the mek'leth across his chest in ceremonial fashion and turning to face Pierce. "I accept your challenge." He moved into a ready stance, awaiting the human's next move.
This wasn't Pierce's first time handling a Klingon weapon, so when he twirled it better than Luqet did, he saw concern on the Klingon's face. Pierce then moved to the center of the room, faced Luqet and got into his ready stance. "Today is a good day to die."
"For you perhaps," Luqet taunted. "Some of us have better things to do." He lunged forward with his blade, clashing it against Pierce's. The force of the impact was staggering, sending him skidding backward slightly. Luqet followed with a second swing, clashing their blades again. "You are talented. But you are not Klingon."
Pierce smiled at the general. He had let the general initiate combat, so he could learn his moves. Now it was his turn. He unleashed a vicious counterattack that drove the general backward.
The blow only briefly staggered Luqet. This time the general's thrust was so strong it sent Colby back several feet and sprawling on the ground. Luqet spun his blade nonchalantly. “Your life is nearing its end, boy. I hope you’re prepared for the end.”
“Come on, get up, Pierce!” Amelia yelled from where she stood. Her nerves were on end and every hit made her feel even more surrounded. Her hand wanted to drift to her phaser so badly, but she knew that’d get them all killed. She turned toward the woman in gold next to her, the woman she’d assigned herself to keep alive. “Captain, at this rate, he’s not going to last much longer. I can’t just stand here. What do we do?”
Charlotte looked on, tensing more with each new staggering hit. The fight wasn’t going well. Pierce was a highly talented fighter, but there was only so much talent could do in the face of the overwhelming brute force of the enhanced Klingon. She spoke under her breathe to the two men standing next to her. “Acainus, Rawlins. We need a game plan. I don’t know that Ensign Pierce is going to be able to take him alone, and I’m not about to watch one of my officers get killed in front of me. Think. There’s gotta be something we can do that won’t get us killed in the process.”
Things were starting to spin out of control and Ian wasn't sure what he could do about it. He thought about stepping into replace Colby but he wasn't even sure that was allowed and the other man was far stronger than he was and he'd been trained to fight. But if things got any worse he would step in and just pray for the best.
"You have any ideas, Dante?" he asked in a low voice as he looked over at the other junior officer.
Dante stood there, a perplexed look on his face for several moments. When the idea hit him it lit up his eyes, and a broad smile went across his face, "Yes, actually I do. Did any one bring a tricorder?", he asked, looking at the other three officers.
Amelia nodded. "Yes. It's a tactical tricorder. Don't know it can do too much. Not sophisticated enough to detect the parasite. But if you think there's something it can help with, it's all yours." She detached the device from her hip and handed it over to Dante, unsure what it would accomplish.
Taking the device from Amelia, Dante pried the back cover off and exposed the circuitry inside. After a few minutes of fiddling with it, with a few glances upwards to check on the fearless security officer fighting the hulking warrior Dante slapped the cover back on and turned it around.
"Done. I can activate this and send a high pitched sonic pulse out into the room. It won't last long, no longer than half a minute, and it's going to hurt like hell for all of us, but it should be enough to drive the parasite out into the open.", he said. "Just say when, Captain.", he added.
Charlotte looked over at Colby as the hulking Klingon swung his blade again. The force was enough to send the security officer tumbling to the ground a few feet away from the general again.
Luqet twirled the mek'leth in a continuous motion, arching back and forth in front of him. "Any last words, human?"
"How about...….go to hell!" As the general advanced, he lunged at him...at the last possible second, he kicked the Klingon in the groin and rolled away.
"Ohh," Ian said, in Klingon, deliberately loud enough for everyone around him to hear, "that's got to hurt."
Charlotte rolled her eyes for a second. The antic wasn't likely to last long. Sure enough, a moment later, Luqet backhanded the Ensign and sent him flying a good few feet backward. Pierce's mek'leth fell from his hand as he hit the floor and skidded a good few feet away. The general let out a cold laugh and lifted the weapon above his head. It was now or never. She tapped Dante's side subtly. "Now."
Flipping the small switch to activate the tricorder Dante allowed power to flow through the altered circuitry. Suddenly, out of the speaker grill, a shrill, piercing tone flowed instead of the normal warbling of the sensor readouts. It was absolutely ear-splitting even for him, and nearly instantly he had to drop it and clap his hands over his ears, a grimace of pain on his face.
Pierce clasped his hands over his ears, but the sound still was overwhelming. Somehow, he managed to crawl over and pick up his mak'leth.
Ian had overheard Dante. He knew what was going to happen, nevertheless, when it did he too was driven to one knee with his hands over his ears.
Charlotte has clasped her ears almost immediately, but it didn’t help much. The sound was intense. She noticed the entire room of Klingons do the same, with the armed guards soon reacting, slowly moving to grab their weapons. Everyone in the room was slowly pushing forward, attempting to do something in response to the noise. Everyone except the general of course. Luqet writhed, letting out long, primal screams. She used her shoulder in place of her hand, to cover her ear and pointed.
The Klingons’ seemed to have noticed on their own for the most part, but the last few followed her gesture, staring at Luqet in confusion. Charlotte gestured to Dante to kill the sound.
As he'd been driven to his knees by the pain of the Sonic pulse Dante was already close to the tricorder. At the Captains signal he reached down and slapped the switch to turn it off, instantly bringing a dead silence to the chamber around them.
As silence fell over the room again, Charlotte found her ears ringing. But they didn’t have time to complain. She shouted to Pierce, who’d already retrieved his weapon thankfully. “Pierce, now!”
Colby crawled over to the writhing body of the General...lifted the mak'leth...and plunged it into the General’s brain.
Luqut's body slumped to the ground lifeless. Less than a second later, the Klingon guards' disrupters came up. It was only natural of them to assume this was a dishonorable kill.
Charlotte's hands came up in a disarming gesture. "Wait! Don't shoot!" Her outstretched hand pointed toward Luqet's body. "Watch."
The guards looked on skeptically. For a moment, nothing happened. And then there was a slight clicking, gurgling noise. The general's mouth came slowly open, but it kept extending far past the joint's natural range. It was soon gaping. The guards stared in disbelief. From inside his mouth, a small squirming creature skittered onto the floor. It turned, suddenly skittering toward the young woman who had looked at the Defiant crew in a friendly manner. With little hesitation, her guard fired a green disruptor bolt into the creature, killing it.
"What in Kahless's name..." The older veteran muttered as he looked on shocked.
Charlotte continued. "That is why we've come here today. This war between our people's? It was instigated by those things. The crew of the vessel we stopped in orbit was infected with them. Your own General Luqet was infected with one. And likely more of you."
She looked at her fellow officers for a moment before continuing. "Our peoples have always been on edge with each other. But this war...it is not one born of honor. It is a war born of treachery and deceit. Of warriors trapped in their own bodies as these creatures manipulated us."
The young woman looked on. "What would you have us do, Starfleet?"
"I ask for a cease fire. Let us put down our weapons until we are sure the fight is truly our own decision," she said, standing as straight as possible. She did her best to appeal to them. "Neither of our sides is honored by a pointless war. These creatures almost unleashed a disease on Qo'nos that would have amounted to genocide. And we've lost countless of our own. Let us honor the dead by not continuing to fight a war that claimed their lives for the gains of another."
Several of the Klingon councilors looked at each other, then at the creature on the floor, then at Captain Reynolds. "We...have much to discuss." The older man replied. "Return to your vessel. We will discuss this amongst ourselves."
As he was the closest to the other man Dante stepped forward reaching out his arm. "Good work, Ensign!", he said with a smile as he helped the other man to his feet.
Pierce got to his feet, barely. "Thank you, sir." he said to Dante.
Charlotte gathered the men together. “Alright, everyone. Back to the shuttle. Let’s keep our heads down and stay out of trouble. I’d prefer not to throw away this win by giving them a reason to change their mind.”