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Star Trek: "Before Destruction!" - An Original Novel By Michael Rossi.
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Star Trek: "Before Destruction!"* - An Original Novel By Michael Rossi

(Please Read the File "README.TXT" before you begin this story.)



Author's Note:

The following story takes place immediately after the
'Vintage' Trek episode entitled "Requiem for Methuselah". It
also ties into the entire Trek world, thankfully created by
the late Gene Roddenberry. Specific episodes that are referenced
prominently are: "Requiem for Methuselah", "Whom Gods Destroy",
"Day *f the Dove" and "Errand of Mercy". As with all works in the
Trek universe, this one takes a few liberties... but only a few, and
maintains the "Character" and "Spirit" that has made Trek my favorite
world of imagination. Although this story relies on past episodes,
it is independent of any other "S.T. Novel" or the contents therein.

I would like to take this time to thank the writer's of the
aforementioned episodes, and all the others who have contributed to
the world of Trek in a positive way. Specifically I wish to thank
them for showing me that, although fictional, it reflects hope, truth,
loyalty, justice, honor, faith, and love. Trek authors have boldly gone
where others have feared to tread. Tackling delicate issues of morality
and justice unflinchingly, from the very beginning. Episodic topics
have ranged from the "Cold War" to the "Bible" and have always spoken to
current issues with an underlying sense of the "right" and "wrong" of
them, or the "good" and "evil". I attribute the success of the series
not merely to the actors and crew, but to these writers who envisioned
a hopeful future, but never left the wisdom of the past.


Thank you.


Mike


--------------------------------------MORE--------------------------------------



And Now:




Star Trek: "Before Destruction"*







*Star Trek is a Registered Trademark of Paramount Pictures
Copyright 1991 by Michael Rossi
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------









*** PROLOGUE ***


Captain James Tiberius Kirk, of the Starship Enterprise,
yielded finally to the merciful, if often elusive, hand of sleep.
Dr. Lenard McCoy had helped him on his way. His cabin was darkened
as he sat behind his desk with his head down atop folded arms.
The sleeves of his gold and black Captain's uniform were still
moist from the tears he was unable to hold back any longer. Though
asleep, he was neither at rest nor at peace. Phantasms of his
tormented heart were there to greet him as he entered the place of
his dreams.

Behind him, like a chiselled monolithic sentinel, stood the
Vulcanian Science Officer, Spock. He looked upon his Captain,
moved with a compassion he had never experienced before. Not
expressed on his face, nor seen in the fathomless depths of his
eyes, the emotion drove him, forcing him to a decision. His
logical mind did what it could to prevent him from acting, but the
force from his half-human heart was irresistible. The pain of his
Captain was now inexplicably yet undeniably his own. And then the
decision was made.

Spock, the man, moved towards his Captain, and gently placed
his fingers upon the troubled brow of his friend. He closed his
own eyes and concentrated. "Forget," he spoke to the heart of his
Captain, "Forget..."


* * *


"They will be coming..." the voice spoke out prophetically.

"How many?" came a second voice with a strange sadness in it.

"Two ships, one from either side. But only one of their
'landing parties' will descend," answered the first voice.

"Should we prevent them from approaching?" came a third voice.

"No," said the second, "It must be."

"They are fearful. They believe we have answers to their
fear," said the first.

"Perhaps they are correct but they may not wish to hear
what we have to say. For they have heard the truth from the
beginning, and are still willingly ignorant of it. The pride of
their vain imagination, their love of 'self', these are points of
their blindness. Nevertheless, we are merely messengers of the
truth, not creators of it... Let them come," spoke the second
voice.

"Let them come," agreed the third voice.

"They shall come..." prophesied the first.

PAGE A







*** ONE ***



Captain's personal log, Stardate: 5845.9.
"It has been mere hours since we have left orbit around
Holberg 917g, yet my memory of it seems to fade with our increasing
distance. Holberg, was not on our intended agenda but a necessary
break from our course, for on its surface in crude form was the
vital mineral "Ryetalyn" which when refined was the main ingredient
for a cure to Rigellian Fever. A landing party from the Enterprise
had contracted Rigellian Fever weeks ago and the virus had swept
the crew, which made our need one of desperation. Upon arrival at
the out-of-the way planet, Myself, First Officer Spock and Dr.
Leonard McCoy found the dwelling of a most amazing man."

"We found that the man, Flint, living in isolation from the
rest of the universe, had no record of ever existing on file in any
Starfleet or Federation memory banks. That is, under the name of
Flint. However, our observations of his personal possessions..."

Captain James T. Kirk sat upright in his chair. To his
astonishment, he could not recall any of his previous observations
of Flint's personal possessions. In fact, he was losing most of the
thoughts that he was sure he had only moments ago concerning the
man. He remembered the floating M-4 robot that gathered the
Ryetalyn. He remembered the end result; his crew whole again. But
there was much missing... and something painful. Something that
could burst his heart, were he able to recollect what that
'something' was.

"Captain Kirk, this is Lieutenant Uhura, please respond." The
communications speaker broke the dark silence of his cabin and
snapped Kirk's head up. The Captain blinked twice, hard, to arouse
himself out of his trance-like state of thought. He reached for
the comm button and winced at a small pain in his side.

"Kirk here; what is it, Lieutenant?"

"I have picked up a weak distress signal, Sir. I
couldn't make out anything vocally but they used the emergency
frequency with a pulse wave."

"Were you able to pin-point its origin?"

"It came from quadrant eight seventy-one, Captain. No
specific location as of yet, but I'm trying to narrow it down."
Her voice was steady, yet expressed her concern.

"Eight seventy-one? Then it hasn't reached Starbase Sixteen
yet?" He understood her concern. It was very likely that they
were the only ones who had heard the distress signal.

"No Sir. If it makes it there at all, it won't be for another
two hours. It is very weak, Captain."


PAGE 1








"Two point one three hours, Captain," Spock added, obviously
standing close to Uhura.

"Thank you Mr. Spock. Lieutenant Uhura, contact Starfleet
concerning the signal. Inform them that we are going in to locate
its origin." Kirk switched off his log recorder. "Mister Sulu?"

"Yes, Sir!" The deep voice spoke confidently.

"Set course for quadrant eight seventy-one, warp seven."

"Aye aye, Sir," replied Sulu.

Captain Kirk changed the comm channel to the intra-ship
setting. "This is Captain Kirk, all hands Yellow Alert, repeat,
Yellow Alert!"


* * *



Captain Kirk strode onto the bridge of the Starship
Enterprise. Glancing across the spacious cabin, he noted all were
at their stations doing what he knew, was their best. "What do we
have in quadrant eight seventy-one, Mr. Spock?"

The tall and lean Science Officer turned towards his Captain
placing his arms behind his back in a "parade rest" fashion. His
shiny black hair gleamed in the luminescence of the overhead
lighting. Some time ago, he could state exactly when, Spock had
committed to memory all Starbases and Federation outposts in all
quadrants. "Science Station Copernicus, Elba II, six abandoned
Dilithium mines, and the Golon Star System, Captain," he stated.
"It is, however, heavily traversed by Federation cargo barges and
privately owned freighters," he added in a formal, even tone.

"Keptin, it is only vun sector avay from the Klingon Neutral
Zone. Close enough to make a tribble squeal," said Ensign Checkov
with a suppressed smile on his face. Sulu, his companion at the
helm, didn't bother to suppress his.

"So noted Mister Checkov. Uhura, try to make contact with
Copernicus and Elba II."

Kirk took the center seat, symbol of both a Captain's power and
authority. He stared at the main view screen watching the stars
unfold. He leaned forward and rested his right elbow on the arm
of his chair, placing his chin in the palm of his hand. The bright
starscape before him was breathtaking, but even so, his mind began
to drift back to the Holberg expedition. 'Something painful?' He
went over the events again in his mind; Rigellian fever, Holberg
917g, Ryetalyn, the M-4 robot, Flint, bruised ribs. 'Bruised
ribs?' Jim Kirk put his hand to his side. He could feel the Flexi-
truss under his shirt, and realized he did indeed have bruised ribs,
but try as he might, he could not recall a single detail about how
they came to be that way.

PAGE 2







"Captain," Uhura spoke softly.

Jim snapped his head up, realizing he was brooding in front of
his crew. 'They all get paranoid when I brood.' He thought to
himself, and spoke, "Yes, Lieutenant?"

"Science Station Copernicus confirms their reception of the
distress signal."

"Did they locate the source?" He swiveled his chair to face
the beautiful, dark skinned communications officer.

"It's coming through now, Sir." She placed her hand to her
ear to block out the various sounds emanating from the bridge.

"There seems to be some kind of interference, Sir. I can't make
out their message. Possibly they are experiencing a solar flare or
something releasing a large amount of energy in their quad."

"Mister Spock?" He turned to his First Officer.

"Analyzing, Captain." The Vulcan bent over his science
station's instrument panel. "Unsure, Captain. As the Lieutenant
pointed out, there is a vast dispersal of energy between Copernicus
and our present course heading. However, from the effect it is
having on the subspace channel, I would hypothesize that it is an
unnatural event."

"I have it now, Sir," Uhura said. "Copernicus reports they
have identified the source code of the distress call. It came from
a space-vessel named the 'Fringe Ranger', in the immediate vicinity
of Elba II."

"The Fringe Ranger? Spock, search the records and let me
know what information you can find on it." Kirk returned his chair
to its foreword position. "Alter course for Elba II, Mister Sulu."

"Aye, Sir."

The turbo-lift opened with a 'swoosh'. Dr. McCoy in his
blue medical uniform, stepped out silently. He looked down to the
man in the center seat. McCoy had been and continued to be
concerned with Jim's emotional state. Deep depression in anyone
can hinder judgement and cause abnormal actions and reactions. In
a Starship Captain, the consequences escalate exponentially. In
worst cases, it could jeopardize the safety of the crew. But it
was Jim Kirk, his friend, whom he worried about. "Sickbay is
ready, Jim." The Doctor rested on the upperdeck's arm-rail. "How
soon till we know any more?"

"Soon. We are on course for Elba II, Doctor. I trust you are
equally prepared to minister to their specific needs as well?"
Elba II had been the only mental institution in the Federation for
the criminally insane for nine years.

"I'm prepared for every contingency. Which reminds me, I have

PAGE 3








a special prescription prepared for you in my cabin when you can
find the time."

"One of your '100 Proof' remedies?" Jim said, hoping it wasn't
a sneaky ploy to get him close enough to sickbay to give him a
physical. "I'll have to pass until this is taken care of, Bones."

Spock turned from his station's computer console, "Captain,
the Fringe Ranger is a decommissioned Yeager-Class cruiser with a
complement of thirty-seven officers and crew, now carrying supplies
to frontier colonies and Starfleet outposts. It was apparently
enroute to Elba II. I have also analyzed her distress signal
with interesting results." Kirk nodded for him to continue. "The
signal appears to have been sent prior to the phenomena causing the
subspace disturbance, and I estimate a 97.43 probability that it was
being jammed from close proximity."

"Jammed?" Kirk rose from his chair and moved to the science
station. He observed the readings indicating that it was so. The
flattened waves and distorted peaks of the line image looked very
much like a jammed signal.

"Who would jam a distress call in Federation space?" the
doctor asked no-one in particular.

"As Mr. Checkov pointed out earlier, we are not far from the
Klingon Neutral Zone, and pirates have been known to be operative
in this sector. Mr. Sulu, precautionary Red Alert. Mr. Checkov,
Screens up, charge phasers," the Captain ordered.

The alert claxon sounded, causing the crew's adrenal glands to
surge in preparation for the emergency tasks they so often were
required to perform. Ignorance was the greatest cause of fear among
the battle-ready members. Not knowing the situation causing the
alert allowed their minds to race in all directions. The Captain
had been on the other end of command, and understood his crew's need
for information.

"Kill the claxon, Mr. Sulu." Jim returned to his chair,
standing next to it, and again pressed the intra-ship comm. "This
is the Captain speaking. We are on a rescue mission, but have
cause to believe there may be enemy involvement. It may be a false
alarm, but stay sharp. Kirk out."

The sensor panel by Spock crackled with electricity then
exploded, to the surprise of everyone. Before Spock could ascertain
the reason for this, the Enterprise was hit hard by some powerful
but unseen force. The ship rocked and vibrated, pitching those
standing to the floor and causing several more overloads on the
sensor panel. Sparks flew and smoke billowed from the unit's side
vents.

"Mr Spock, what hit us?" Kirk asked, regaining his footing.
Another jolt, less in severity, hit the ship.

Spock, also gathering himself up from the deck replied, "A

PAGE 4








concussion-energy wave of some magnitude. Sensor feedback shorted
out any early warning we might have received,"

"Lieutenant Uhura?" The Captain did not have to make a
complete request of the communications officer. The closeness of
the bridge officers occasionally circumvented any need of formal
query in events such as this.

"Damage to shields 3 and 4, long and short range sensors are
out, minor structural damage below C deck. Engineering reports,"
her report was interrupted by a voice over the bridge speaker.

"Capt'n, we got a problem with the main energizers. How long
are ya gonna keep ma engines goin at full tilt?" said the
definitively Scottish voice of the Chief Engineer.

"We will be going sublight in a matter of minutes, Mr. Scott.
Keep us on line until then, please."

"I'll try Sir, but the intermix reactor to me port nacelle
just went into the yellow. I wouldn'a like you to have to jettison
the whole unit."

The doctor slipped off the bridge into the turbolift. No
matter how little damage there was, you could count on 5 or 6
patients appearing in Sickbay with bloody noses and minor
abrasions. With blood dripping from his left nostril, the doctor
wanted to get in line before the "Coagul-aid" was used up.

"Coming up on the Petroski solar system and Elba II, Captain,"
reported Sulu.

"Slow to one quarter impulse power, with Mr. Scott's
permission," Jim Kirk said, looking up at the bridge speaker.

"Aye Sir, Scott out."

"Slowing, Sir."

"Keptin, we are peeking up debris on collision sensors.
They appear to be asteroids directly in front of us vair there
should be none," said Checkov.

"Increase forward viewer magnification to 40. How are
the shields holding Mr. Checkov?"

"Shields at 78 percent, Sir."

The stars were shining brightly in the distance, but in
front of them, increasingly blotting out the pinpoints of light,
were dark spinning rocks growing in size as the Enterprise neared
them.

"How much longer before we have short range sensors back?" the
Captain directed toward Uhura.


PAGE 5








"Tech crew says we may have short range back in 10 minutes.
They haven't given me an estimate on the long range sensors as of
yet, Sir."

The Captain nodded in acknowledgement, "Mr. Sulu, all
stop."

With steady hands on the instruments, "Slowing," Sulu stated.
"All stop, Sir," he reported. "Thrusters at station-keeping."

Spock observed the forward view screen with arms folded across
his chest. "Captain, the asteroids still appear to be advancing in
our direction rapidly." Kirk examined the distant rocks on the
screen as Spock continued. "By their angle of trajectory and
dispersal, I would estimate they originated from some central point
ahead of our present course. Possibly from the event point of the
energy dispersal that has been disturbing our communications."

"They are getting closer, aren't they." He took a deep breath
and slowly exhaled noisily, as if he was about to do something
that he wished he didn't have to. "Mr. Sulu, do you recall what
regulations state about a Starship entering a field of asteroids?"

The Oriental officer looked at his comrade sitting next to
him, and answered in an uncertain voice. "Uh, I believe section
139, paragraph 62 or 63 states 'Stay the heck away from them
unless it's an emergency'. Paraphrased, Sir."

"Are you willing to make the attempt?" Kirk asked him.

A wry smile appeared on the adventurous Lieutenant's face,
still looking at Checkov, who gave him an uncomfortable nod. "I
think so, Captain"

"In that case, shields double front Mr. Checkov. Arm Photon
torpedoes, we may need to blast our way through a few of them. Do
not wait for my command to fire. That may take too long." He
pressed the intra-ship communication switch. "This is the Captain;
prepare for rough maneuvers. We will be piloting through a
hazardous area so take all precautions accordingly. Captain out."
Then to the lieutenant with whom he now entrusted his ship, "Take
us through, Mr. Sulu, and try to save the paint job."

"Aye, Sir, accelerating to point zero-four sub-light."

The sleek giant of a Starship moved closer toward the oncoming
space debris. The first tiny particles hit the shields, making
sparks visible on the main viewer. Although the vacuum of space
made it impossible, the bridge crew could almost hear the micro
asteroids hiss, as they came in contact with the ship's protective
energy barrier.

The larger asteroids were now approaching. The collision
alarm blasted through the silence on the bridge, then ceased as the
Captain signaled its termination. The Enterprise suddenly pitched


PAGE 6








starboard then to port as Sulu deftly navigated her through the
deadly floating rocks. The crew was being pulled side to side,
as the artificial gravity strained to adjust to the inertial force
changes. Then their motion changed to up and down as the ship
narrowly missed a large one cutting across her bow. It was as
if they were on some mad man's ride in an amusement park, but
amusement was not what the crew was experiencing. Without warning,
spiraling in from the side, came a jagged asteroid that Sulu
couldn't move around in time. Almost immediately upon seeing it,
it exploded. It was destroyed by a torpedo that shot away from
the ship like a fiery dart to obliterate the cold rock. And still
the asteroids came.

Dodging the larger ones was becoming easier, but the smaller
ones could neither be avoided, nor targeted in time. They hit the
ship in a unmerciful barrage, jolting and shaking the vessel until
she felt as if she was going to come apart. Flashes of powerful
energy lit up the viewer as torpedo after torpedo shot from the
ship's underside and either intercepted, or missed their targets.

The strain on the ship could be heard over the whine of her
impulse engines, accelerating and decelerating. And then came...
silence, as Enterprise sliced through the ebony sky on the other
side of the asteroids.

Sulu was the first to breathe a sigh of relief, before the
rest of the bridge crew realized the danger had passed. He looked
over to Checkov, who was shaking a little, then noticed that he,
himself, could not remove his hands from the controls.

The Captain, being just that, would not let his crew know the
extent of his relief, but he stepped down behind Sulu and Checkov
and rested his hands on their shoulders. "Next time we get to
Aldebaron, I'm buying."

Spock, apparently unruffled by their ordeal, noticed the green
light on his science station's short range scanner and gave it his
attention. "Captain, Short range sensors are now operational," he
announced. "We are nearing Jirus, the fifth planet in the Petroski
solar system... Fascinating," he stated, looking into the apparatus.
"Captain, Jirus does not appear to be in its natural orbit."

"This is... not good." He rubbed his chin slowly. "Uhura,
have you been able to contact Elba II at all, or receive any of
their transmissions?"

"No contact yet, Sir."

"Spock?" He turned to his first officer, who was still
looking down into his station's scanning equipment.

"One moment, Sir." Spock pressed two buttons without looking
up from the equipment, pressed another, then straightened himself
and turned toward Kirk. "Captain, " he said, "Elba II is not
there." He waited for the full meaning of what he said to sink in.
"I believe we may have just passed through the remains of the
planet."

PAGE 7







"My God, Spock, are you certain?" Kirk said in astonishment.

"It would explain the orbital shift of its neighboring planet
Jirus," said the Vulcan. "The mass loss of one planet would effect
the gravitational pulls of the entire system."

"Uhura," said the captain, "Contact Starfleet Command. Tight
beam, and scrambled. I want it to penetrate that energy wave.
Fill them in and inform them we will scan the area for debris.
Then prepare a warning buoy directing all ships away from this
area." Jim Kirk paused, thinking of Governor Cory, administrator
of the Elba II colony. A good man, gone. "Launch buoy when
ready," he said.

"Aye, Sir," Uhura said while already beginning to carry
out the order.

"Klingon devils!" Checkov murmured bitterly to himself,
though just loud enough to be heard.

"Do you really think the Klingons would violate the
Organian Peace Treaty, Sir?" Sulu asked his Captain.

"Without a moment's remorse, if they had any reason to and
thought they could get away with it. However the Organians, not
us, are the enforcers of the treaty."

"What if they have found a way to cloak themselves from
Organia like the Romulans cloak their ships from us?" questioned
Sulu.

"Anything is possible, but I seriously doubt it," Kirk said as
he glanced over to his First Officer who appeared completely
engrossed with his scanner. "Opinion, Mr. Spock?"

Spock, of course, had taken the conversation in. And while
quite busy with his other duties, he had plenty of time to analyze
the situation and formulate hypotheses. "It seems unlikely that
the Klingons would have such technology to do so, Captain. I
believe we may also rule out privateers, unless their ship was
completely filled with anti-matter warheads, which I estimate as
equally unlikely," said the First Officer, not looking up from his
scanner. "There is one more possibility, which I find more
probable than the previously stated hypothesis."

Sudden remembrance flooded Kirk's mind. It had only been a
few months ago, though their many adventures had made it seem like
decades, that a once-great Starship Captain, driven mad, had
battled Kirk and nearly killed him. His last memory of the great
man was one of hope and respect born anew, for a cure to the man's
insanity had been administered. Jim became angry with himself for
letting recent events cloud his mind, keeping him from seeing what
Spock clearly observed.

"Captain Garth," Kirk said, almost allowing the sorrow of



PAGE 8








losing a personal hero to become apparent in his voice. 'and
something painful' the thought seemed to haunt him.

Finally looking up from his station, Spock faced his Captain.
"It is a logical conclusion, considering the potency of the
explosive he created. However one could only guess as to the
events that caused its detonation."

"It was a very unstable material." Jim Kirk choked back the
strange and sudden surge of emotion that had grabbed him a moment
ago. His emotions seemed strangely 'raw' today. "He told me that
it could be set off just by dropping it to the floor."

"And tremendously powerful," Spock added. "Remember the level
of destruction that one grain caused. It is little wonder
Starfleet delayed moving the substance. With Elba II as isolated
as it was, there was far less risk in storing it in Governor Cory's
vaults than transporting it to another location."

Jim stepped from his chair, "I don't like it Spock. Something
doesn't fit." The Captain caught himself just as he was about to
start pacing. Instead he leaned against his command chair.
"Precautions had been taken in storing the explosive. It was held
in the center of a stasis sphere by anti-gravitons, with its own
power supply, much like we use to contain antimatter."

"It is possible that some hostile attempt was made against the
planet causing the containment field to fail and detonation to
occur. However that would again indicate the Klingons on several
counts." Spock placed his hands on the rail before him and nodded
toward Checkov. "First, Elba II maintained a constant planetary
force field around itself, making it virtually impenetrable to
anything smaller than a military cruiser. Second, Elba II's
scanning equipment would have detected any unauthorized traffic
long before it reached the planet unless it had a cloaking device."
Keeping in mind that this line of reasoning still lacked any
cohesive evidence, not to mention the problem the Organian's posed
in the equation, he relented. "There are actually many scenarios
that could explain much of what happened. However, until we have
more facts for our analysis, we can only speculate."

"Keep scanning, Mr. Spock. Mr. Sulu, assemble a recon team to
collect any debris floating out there. Maybe we can piece this
mystery together before Starfleet Intelligence gets here."













PAGE 9



*** TWO ***



Light-years away, at the edge of Federation-occupied space,
defense outposts guard a zone of space currently designated as
'off-limits' to all vessels, Federation or otherwise. This Neutral
Zone separates the United Federation of Planets from the ruthless
and powerful Klingon Empire. Both galactic powers were initially
allowed by treaty to peacefully enter the Zone. But tensions
between the two opposing forces had escalated to such a point that
no contact between the two powers could be called peaceful or
productive, by either government. The Zone had become a central
point for espionage and counter-intelligence, making neither side
confident that its military secrets remained secret.

Each outpost skirting the Zone is a fully armed battle
station, carrying the equivalent firepower of a light destroyer.
The border is patrolled regularly by a rotating shift of
Starfleet's finest cruisers and destroyers. These precautions are
designed as a check and balance system, assuring total compliance
with the pre-established Klingon/Federation treaty. The standing
orders at each outpost are as follows:

1. Hail all vessels approaching Neutral Zone and warn
them off.

2. If compliance is negative; fire one warning volley and
advise Starfleet via designated patrol vessel.

3. If negative compliance continues; disable vessel if
possible, destroy vessel if not.

Outpost Delta Gamma 13 spotted the distant ship streaking
towards the Neutral Zone. On the outpost's main battle bridge,
night-watch was on duty.

"Commander O'Hara, I have an outbound vessel at 038, warp
7!" Lieutenant Tomy announced. She was a bit excited, it being her
first tour of duty and first day at this post.

The tall, fair-haired Irish Commander, O'Hara, had almost
finished his own tour of duty on DG-13. He had felt that this
assignment was a form of punishment for the practical joke he
played on his former Captain while aboard the USS Yorktown. It
is an established fact, that few people enjoy transporting down
to a planet, only to find that their underwear has materialized
on the outside of their uniform. Though the Commander had not
actually been caught in the act, everyone knew who had perpetrated
it. Neither was he openly blamed for placing nitrous oxide
cannisters in the emergency respirators just before the Yorktown
went on "Environment Alert" drills.

It was all true, what people said about him; O'Hara was a
compulsive practical joker. Though he never meant any harm with
his humorous escapades, he always seemed to over-do his pranks on

PAGE 10








the very people who appreciated them the least. Usually they were
the ones who also out-ranked him. And although he tried, O'Hara
could not even force himself to stop. If there were humor in it,
O'Hara would go out of his way to play or overplay the joke.

"I'm right here, me darlin'. You don't have to shout," said
Commander O'Hara to the young and nervous Lieutenant. He stood
behind her and sipped a warm cup of coffee.

"Sorry, Sir. I'm sending the standard transmission now." She
touched her index finger lightly on the pressure sensitive switch
and the high intensity warning signal was sent out, automatically
placing the outpost on yellow alert.

The slightly scaly alien Ensign at the weapons console turned
sluggishly toward the Commander and announced, "Defense fields
activated; station recorder is on; all 'feet' on yellow alert."

The ensign was a Frillian from the planet Narn. His face
looked more reptilian than anything else, and his ever-open green
eyes were large, with long vertical pupil slits in his iris. His
uniform was cut to suit his unique physiognomy. He had eight
appendages in all, and a short stub of a tail. Frillians, not
having hands to speak of, use their long digited feet to operate
all equipment; One set of four to grasp and manipulate, the other
set of four to walk with. Mr. Spitt did, however, know the
difference between 'Hands', a ship's company and 'Hands',the things
that make it easier to pick your nose, but it pleased him to
constantly punctuate the physiological differences between their
species.

"That's gettin ta be old, Mr. Spitt. Why doncha try to be a
wee less humorous and a bit more purple."

Frillians were red in complexion when asleep and a bright
lavender, when fully awake. This would normally make it easy for
one Frillian to be able to tell if another Frillian was enjoying a
conversation or dozing through it, if it wasn't for the fact that
their race is color-blind, and do talk a great deal in their sleep.

Lieutenant Tomy pressed a series of buttons which allowed her
to bring up a visual of the incoming ship on the main viewscreen.
She snapped a fingernail pressing the last button. That did not
bother her though, for she had already bitten most of the others off
over the past six hours.

"Is that the best ya kin do. I kin hardly tell the ship from
the stars," said the Commander, squinting his blue eyes.

"Viewer is at maximum, Sir," she said as she tried to pull the
fingernail out from under the viewscreen resolution button.

"Any change in speed or course?"

"No, Sir. But they seem to be trying to skirt our position."
She succeeded in removing the nail and tossed it nonchalantly over

PAGE 11








her shoulder. It landed in the Commander's coffee and sank to the
bottom, but O'Hara's attention was elsewhere.

"Don't eat that! It's my friend!" shouted the crimson
Frillian.

"Wake up, Mr. Spitt!" The Commander glared at the weapons
officer. He swore to himself never to let the ensign work a triple
shift again. Most of their small crew had been in and out of
sickbay the two days past, with a curious form of 'intestinal
disfunction of unknown origins'. Unknown to the crew, that is,
but the outpost's doctor pulled Commander O'Hara aside and warned
him that if he ever found any trace of laxatives in the food
processors again, he would have to 'file a detailed report to
Starfleet, that would be incriminating to someone on this outpost
of command rank.'

"Mr. Spitt!" said the Commander.

The Frillian cocked his head, "Aye Sir, it does seem to be
foaming at the mouths," still bearing dark red scales.

"Mr. Tomy, send an advisory to Starfleet and our support ship.
Tight-beam, you know the drill," spoke the Commander, still narrowly
viewing the Frillian. "Place us on red alert while yer at it."

"Aye Sir," she said as the Commander moved next to Mr. Spitt
at the weapons console and readied it. The inbound ship was just
far enough away to keep the targeting computer from getting a
positive lock. But since the Commander was not going to blast the
ship with the first volley, only fire a warning shot, he allowed
the computer to continue the sequence with the inaccuracy variance,
and fire.

"Torpedo away," O'Hara said calmly, as this was a very
routine procedure. At least twice a week they would get a stray
ship with communications problems, or once and a while a contraband
smuggler, never anything worth worrying about. Everyone knew the
Neutral Zone Laws and the consequences of crossover. Klingons do
not fire warning shots, and their patrol is two-fold the
Federation's.

"Sir, scans show the vessel is going sub-light,"
Lieutenant Tomy said. "Their scanners must have picked up our
warning volley. I'll tell them to prepare to be boarded."

"Do that, lassie. How far is our support ship?"

"I have the Schwarzkopf's ETA at seven minutes," she said
confidently.

"Bring us back down to yellow then, and get another officer up
here to replace Spitt, will ya?"

The ruby lights around the station signalling red alert
stopped flashing and were replaced by amber... for about a second

PAGE 12








and a half... Then the red came on again.

"Sir, we are being fired on!" she said with an understandable
bit of excitement.

"Shields up," the Commander said, maintaining his calm, "and
don't worry, me darlin'. The Schwarzkopf is on its way. And
remember our scanners are the best in the Federation and we
couldn't achieve a weapons lock at this distance. I doubt they're
likely ta come close enough ta hit the planet behind us."

The torpedo sped towards them rapidly, closing the gap between
the inbound craft and the outpost. True to the Commander's words,
it was far from its target. Then it detonated. The brilliance
rivaled, then overcame, that of their local sun and still grew in
intensity.

Before Delta Gamma 13's crew could know what was transpiring,
they, like much of the planet behind them, were gone.






































PAGE 13




*** THREE ***



The dark grey Klingon ship came about and joined the two D-7
cruisers, taking the point of their wing-formation. They headed
for the ship coming out of the Federation Neutral Zone into Klingon
space. No questions would be asked, no favors granted. The ship
was to be destroyed.

Kang sat in his command chair, no stranger to battle. Dark
joy beat in his breast, as he awaited the confrontation before him.
He was the hunter in search of his prey. His Klingon blood surged
through him, heightening his senses, honing his awareness. He was
lightning waiting to be unleashed.

"Helmsman, increase speed to warp 8!" commanded Kang.

"Increasing speed, Sir!" said the helmsman boldly, not
revealing his nervousness at the order. He felt his ship subtly
vibrate, as her velocity progressed and broke warp factor 8.

The Klingonese ship's new engines were designed to exceed warp
9, but her hull structure had yet to be modified to withstand the
incredible force of the forward thrust at that level.

"Warp 8 achieved!" reported the helmsman.

"Full power to the weapons," Kang ordered.

His ship, the Fury, was the prototype of the D-8 Predator
class battle cruisers. Slightly less armaments adorned her than
the D-7's trailing her but she was swifter and more maneuverable.
A formidable and lethal weapon in the hands of one with the
experience of 'Kang: The Destructor'.

"Commander Kang, I am receiving many Starfleet transmissions
concerning a large explosion caused by an unidentified Starship.
The sub-space transmissions are garbled and something is hindering
reception, but the last report stated that the Starship headed into
the neutral zone at approximately the same point we picked up the
intruder ahead of us." Gor, the communications officer turned to
look directly at his commander. "Sir, the explosion was described
as 'force S.N. point 1', one tenth that of a Stellar Nova."

"A Starfleet trick?" Kang queried.

"I do not believe so, Sir. They are using the Federation
Emergency channel, non-coded. Though they are clever, we have
never known them to broadcast disinformation on the Federation
Emergency channel," Gor stated.

"Could it be one of ours, Sir?" the navigator asked.

"That is probably what the Federation believes but until we

PAGE 14








have found a path around the Organians, we have no way of engaging
in open hostilities." Kang leaned forward in his chair. "It is
more than likely that this is a result of some miscreant rebel
insurrection, spilling out of their hands and into our laps." He
cursed the Federation under his breath. "This should be an easy
kill; nevertheless, you do not approach a Vorshadragon from the
front. The ship's weaponry is an unknown. It may prove prudent to
attack from all sides." He paused in thought, then, "Mr. Gor,
raise the Terror and Dorgok, ship to ships."

The communications officer quickly opened a comm channel to
the flanking ships.

"Done, Sir. Commanders Volte and Pakor on speakers," spoke
Gor.

"This is Kang. Prepare to execute battle maneuver Tychon 7-k.
Split at my command." He rested confidently back into his chair.
"Mark!" he commanded.

All three battle cruisers turned as if joined together by some
invisible cable, then suddenly broke formation, each making a wide
arc to intersect the intruder's projected position. Like three
graceful hawks they flew, awaiting the sight of prey to make the
kill. Farther apart, then out of each other's sight. Knowing when
next they meet, they will share victory and taste blood.

Kang observed the stars, their patterns, their various colors
and degrees of luminescence. They were a majestic back-drop, he
thought, for the battle that was ahead. He rubbed his moustache
with his forefinger and thumb and watched the light of the heavens
before him... Watching and waiting.

Kang was about average size for a Klingon. Although he was a
strong man, he had always relied on his cunning in battle, whether
it be in hand to hand combat or ship against ship. The dark eyes,
under his bushy eyebrows, scanned the view ahead waiting for the
moment that his enemy would come into view. He was a warlord in
the truest sense, a worthy adversary for any opponent. But he did
have a heart. A heart that he kept hid from most men and a
tenderness that he would only share with his wife. He could be the
truest of friends to those whom he deemed worthy of his friendship,
but one would be hard pressed to find an enemy more fierce.

"My lord, the vessel ahead has shields up and her torpedoes
are armed. Scans indicate that their warheads are equipped with an
unusually unstable material that our computers cannot yet
identify." Her eyes expressed her concern to the commander. "I
recommend caution, my lord," said Mara, science officer and wife to
Kang.

Before Kang could respond, Gor broke in. "Sir, we are being
hailed by the intruder." He placed his hand to his ear.
"Commander, the intruder wishes to discuss terms of surrender," he
said.


PAGE 15








"We are Klingons!" he reminded his Comm. officer harshly.
"We take no prisoners."

"But," Gor stammered.

"Enough!" Kang ordered. Then to his helmsman, "Prepare to
fire!"

Kang could see the two other vessels of Klingon origin coming
into view behind and to port of the intruder. Just as the faintest
smile of satisfaction crossed Kang's face, the trespassing ship
fired directly at the D-7 far to its rear.

The Dorgok tried evasive maneuvers but the torpedo never
needed to make contact and in an instant the Dorgok ceased to be.
The resulting explosion was spectacular, albeit much smaller than
the one fired on the Federation outpost. Nevertheless the
concussive force rocked and shook both engaging cruisers and the
intruder's vessel as well.

On the Fury, alert claxons sounded and combustion sirens
wailed. In the darkness of the temporarily blacked out bridge,
smoke spewed from the overhead sensor array, sparks giving off the
only light. The emergency lights flickered on, casting a red haze
in the smoky command room. Backup power lit up the bridge systems
bringing control back to the ship.

"Never have I seen such a weapon," the helmsman spoke in awe.

"Sir," Gor spoke as he clambered to his feet. "It is they
who want 'us' to surrender."

Kang glared at the communications officer with murder in his
eyes. Gor averted his own. His commander had killed with less
rage than this, but it was an anger born of frustration at the
situation rather than toward the individual. Kang now knew that
their military posture was that of the helpless. He also knew that
for a Klingon there was no surrender. They were warriors, bred for
conquest, not capitulation. 'This must not be,' he thought to
himself.

Kang assessed the field of battle. He assessed his ship and
crew. Only forty seconds had passed since the force wave had hit
them. If they must die they will at least wound their enemy. He
noted that it would take several seconds to penetrate the shields
of the Starship and destroy it. He also noted that in the first of
those seconds they and the Terror could easily be taken out. Then
a thought came to him and he regained his composure.

"This weapon they have would bring power to the Empire.
Enough power to destroy Organia and all who would stand in our
way." He looked at each of the faces of his crew in turn and
finally rested his eyes on his wife. Mara was the only one who
could read the doubt on his face, but just looking at her gave him
strength.


PAGE 16








Kang turned to Gor, "We will play the diplomat until we either
have the weapon or an opening, and then I swear, by the strength of
the One God, we will crush the invader and scatter his ashes
through the universe!" His fist crashed into the arm of his chair.

"Open communications to our enemy!" Kang ordered.

Gor rushed to his post, thankful for his life and heartened by
the words of his commander. "Channel open, my lord!" Then "Audio
only," he added.

"This is Kang, Commander of the Imperial Cruiser Fury. With
whom am I speaking?" He awaited the reply. After a few moments it
came.

"This is the Captain of the Starship with no name," the bridge
speakers boomed. "Obey my command and you may yet live to serve
your Emperor. Defy me on any count and your death will be
immediate." There was a pause, long enough for the words to hit
home. "You will contact the Imperial Throne World. Make clear to
them what you have seen and let them know that it is only a
fraction of the power I hold."

The voice spoke eloquently, almost elegantly, but forcefully.
Assured that the words which were spoken were weighed heavily by the
Klingon and confident that nothing in the Empire could be called
his 'rival', the voice continued. "Make it known to the ruling
council that you and your sister ship are to escort me to a
rendezvous with your Emperor, where we will discuss the future of
the known universe."

Kang heard a gasp from his wife. She was not the only one on
the bridge who feared for the Empire. To lead this angel of
destruction to the Throne World was Galactic suicide; no, genocide.

"I come in peace," the voice said. "However, do not invite my
wrath upon yourself, for as you have witnessed, my vengeance is
irrevocable. No harm will come to anyone if my will is honored."
The voice over the speaker ceased.

Kang began to reply, barely able to control his anger. Before
his lips could move in response, his communications officer
announced, "Channel is closed, my lord."

Rage hit Kang. Flames of anger began burning in his mind, yet
he maintained command of himself. More than anything he wanted to
lash out at his enemy. This faceless foe could not know of
Klingons and believe they would surrender until their very breath
had left them. 'Who is he?' The question reverberated in his mind.
Kang needed a plan. Something unpredictable and quick; nothing
elaborate. If he could only contact the Terror so they could act
as one. But no, he dare not make any open gestures of deceit. He
would have to act alone.

"Gor, send a detailed recount of our predicament to Imperious
Admiral Sorr. Request immediate advisory. Encode to him that by

PAGE 17








the time he receives the message we may not be here anymore and
that my crew was brave in facing their enemy."

"Yes, Sir," said the Comm. officer.

"Now we act," Kang decided. "Weapons officer, have torpedo
bay send 6 torpedoes to the transporter room immediately." Kang
turned to his wife. "Mara, keep scanning the intruder. If his
shields drop for any reason, we open fire no matter what events are
transpiring. Understood?"

"Yes my lord," spoke Mara and the weapons officer in unison as
they began their separate tasks.

"Helmsman, when I give the command, I want full reverse,
emergency speed!"

The helmsman turned with a surprised look on his face. "We
are going to flee, my lord?"

Mara quickly rebuked him, "Have care what you say Torvak. I
do not expect you to question his orders again! Your life at least
will be at stake, perhaps all of ours."

Kang looked to his wife. Long had they served together.
Longer had they loved one another. She could give him no son, no
heir, and he was the last of his proud line. He bore her no grudge
for that. She had given him everything else. Her loyalty above
all had earned her his love, even from the beginning.

"Torpedoes are in position in the transporter room, sir!"

"Transporter room. This is Kang." He spoke carefully so that
no word would be misinterpreted. "Set torpedo detonation range for
the proximity of zero. Set warheads to arm themselves by timer and
set timers at ten seconds minus," he paused, waiting for them to carry
out his command. The moments passed slowly.

"Done, my lord," came a disembodied voice from the speaker.

"When I give the command, I want the computer to trip the
timers. We are then going to transport all six of the torpedoes
simultaneously. Their destinations are to be calculated, handled
and executed by computer. They have to materialize exactly when
the timer's counter reads zero. Understand that I mean zero."

"Yes, my lord," came the voice.

"Encoded destinations are to be equidistant points against the
enemy vessel's deflector shield perimeter. Am I understood on all
points?" Kang demanded.

"Yes, Sir."

"Then repeat it!" said Kang, not trying to insinuate that his


PAGE 18








transporter officer was incompetent, but wanting to stress the
importance of his exact compliance. The officer repeated it to the
last detail. "Good. Kang out."

Kang turned to his weapons officer. "When the torpedoes have
detonated you are to fire all weapons at the enemy vessel, but do
not ready weapons until I give the order or the intruder will
detect it on his scanners."

"Yes, Sir," said the space veteran. He had total faith in his
commander but still expected a glorious death.

"Torvak, when the vessel's shields are down, she is our equal.
As our first salvo hits her, she will explode due to the detonation
of the very weapons she would use to destroy us. The Federation
message we intercepted stated that this ship caused an explosion
akin to a micro nova. Do you think it would not be prudent to be
elsewhere when detonation occurs?"

"Sir... I spoke from ignorance," the young officer said looking
at the floor.

Kang stood, prepared to strike back at the one who would
challenge the Empire. His crew was also ready, once again having
the hope of the glory of battle. They watched him for the signal
that would start the offensive. He put his fist to his chest in
salute of his crew, "Victory to the brave!" he shouted.

"Victory to the Strong!" responded his crew.

"Transporter room!" Kang commanded, "Prepare to,"

"MY LORD!" Mara cut in. "The Terror is charging disrupters
and has armed her torpedoes. She is going to engage the enemy."

"The fools! Forward viewer on Terror."

The view-screen changed from a high resolution 2-D on the
intruder, to a close-up of the Terror. All watching could see her
forward torpedo tube go from dark to a glowing red.

"Intruder firing on Terror!" came Mara again.

"Brace yourselves!" spoke Kang.

The screen in front of them glowed brilliantly white and the
ship was again hit by the terrible blast, causing the backup power
to fade. Fire broke out at the science station while Mara, and
others who were standing, now lay sprawled across the aft section
of the bridge.

"Damage report!" ordered Kang, coughing for all the smoke.

Mara pulled herself up and headed for her post.

"Torvak, has the enemy's position changed?"

PAGE 19








"I can't locate," Torvak paused, "Sir! He's astern," spoke
the officer.

"Commander," said Mara. "Damage to shields, 50 percent. On-
board computer is down, now operating on station micros. Scanning
equipment is damaged, extent not yet assessed."

"My lord, we are being hailed by the vessel with no name,"
spoke Gor over the sound of the extinguishers.

"On speakers," Kang commanded, though not desiring to face
the one who had dishonored him on these terms.

"Commander Kang, is it your intention to attack this ship like
your previously 'living' comrades?" the voice asked almost
pleasantly.

"What the Terror did, she did of her own accord. Not by my
command, which is sovereign here. Though I do not apologize for
what she attempted."

"You are a brave man, Commander. But remember, it is a small
thing for me to destroy you so do not tempt me... I believe that I
will give you a more definitive idea as to whom and what you are up
against. I will demonstrate that not only could I be the Empire's
greatest ally, but its deadliest enemy." Kang already knew this.
"Much of which will be determined by the hospitality I receive from
his Imperious Majesty's representative, who's ship I just happen to
be targeting presently. Is my meaning plain enough for you?"

"It is," Kang said flatly, already beaten.

"Very well. A force of arms, as the expression goes, will be
displayed before you. Do be good enough to make a recording of
this demonstration, I shall do it but once, and it is significant
that your Emperor understands the import of our meeting."

Another voice was heard in the background, "All is in
readiness your Highness," it said.

"Excellent!" came the enemy again then back to Kang. "As well
as yourselves, we are targeting the last planet in the nearest
solar system. What do you call this planet?"

"Skarr 18" Kang said.

"Witness then that in a few moments, Skarr will have only 17
planets in orbit around her... Fire!" the voice commanded.









PAGE 20




*** FOUR ***



Enterprise shone like a pearl against a black velvet sky. She
remained stationary as the smaller ship, dart-like in appearance,
approached. Static electricity discharged with various degrees of
intensity, arcing, almost dancing about them, in bright blue bolts.
They were enfolded by the dark and dense cloud of particles that
had once been Elba II.

On the bridge of the Enterprise, damage control was completing
repairs to the ship's injuries, sustained while reaching the
Petroski solar system.

"Bridge to Engineering. Mr. Scott, repairs are about done up
here. How are things coming on your end?" spoke Jim Kirk to his
chief engineer.

"We have green across the board, Capt'n. Though there is
still an energy flux in me port nacelle. I cann'a seem to fine
tune it out, and it's gonna worra me till I do," said the
Scottsman.

"Well done, Mr. Scott. Keep me informed about that flux. If
it gets worse, let me know," Kirk said.

"Aye Sir, Scott out." The channel closed.

"Mr. Spock, I believe it's time to go over to the Javelin for
debriefing," the Captain said as he left his chair, "Mr. Sulu, you
have the Con."

Spock followed Jim to the turbo-lift. Sulu rose from his post
and took the center seat as the lift's doors 'swooshed' closed.

"Hanger deck," Jim instructed the lift. He rubbed his palms
against his trousers, then folded his arms across his chest. "Mr.
Spock," he began, "have you finished the detailed report on the
landing expedition to Holberg?"

"Yes, Captain, it is on file and ready to be transmitted to
Starfleet Command."

"I'd like to look at it before you have it sent. I want to
compare it to my own log," said Jim. "Not that I mistrust your
accuracy Spock, I just want to be sure I didn't leave anything
important out," he continued, hoping his First Officer would not
detect his uneasiness about the subject. He wanted to compare the
two logs because his memory seemed to have lapsed and he did not
wish it known to his friend.

Embarrassment crept up inside him as he thought to himself of
the way he was trying to conceal this fact from Spock, the very one
whom he should confide in. His cheeks shone the barest hint of red
and he could feel the flush of them.

PAGE 21








So concerned with himself, Jim did not even notice the
slightly greener cheeks of Spock.

Spock was hardly pleased to hear Jim's request. It was not
difficult to deduce that Kirk had discovered some missing time
concerning Flint and the Holberg expedition, more to the truth,
concerning Reena.

It is considered not only immoral and illogical but quite
dangerous for a Vulcan to interfere uninvitedly into another's
thoughts. Spock's decision to alter his Captain's memory of the
death of his love was not derived from logic, but one of "brotherly
affection". An emotion alien to him before he knew the man James T.
Kirk, but alien no longer.

To all who did not know Spock well, he appeared to be
typically, totally, Vulcan. A being devoted entirely to logic,
suppressing or uprooting any inborn emotion, never discerning the
turmoil inside him of being only half Vulcan. His human and Vulcan
sides constantly strove with each other for supremacy in his
heart.

Unlike most humans and Vulcans, Jim Kirk had accepted him as
is, and demonstrated the strength that could be found in the very
emotions he struggled to suppress. There is a balance between the
two opposing cultures that Spock was only recently becoming aware
of. Once thought mutually exclusive, he now could see the harmony
of the two working in him. This did not, however, make it any
easier for him to arrive at an explanation as to why James had no
memory of Reena Kapec. He would not lie to Jim. Perhaps he could
'exaggerate'?

The lift doors opened to the face of Dr. Leonard McCoy holding
two flat squares, one orange, one blue.

"Bones, I was just wondering if you had the medical tapes for
us," said Jim.

"I thought I would deliver them personally, Jim. Governor
Cory's staff and patient's files are all here though I'm not sure
how much help they will be. They are only as current as the last
time we were here." The doctor placed the squares in his Captain's
hands.

"We were ordered to gather all information pertaining to the
disaster, regardless of how insignificant."

"I know, I saw all of the equipment and space debris you are
taking over to the Intelligence boys. Not much room for the two of
you, is there?" Bones escorted the two down the corridor.

"If we had another shuttle craft available, we would have
distributed the material between the two. As it is, it will still
be a couple of hours before our second recon team returns, and no
ship will be able to use transporters for weeks in this area with
all the electromagnetic energy around."

PAGE 22








"'Months' is what Scotty said," added Bones.

"Two point seven three months, to be more accurate," offered
Spock, more to irritate the doctor than to assist. Dr. McCoy
was, to Spock, the most emotionally fascinating person to observe.
It seemed, paradoxically, that the good doctor was most happy when
most irritated. As a friend, Spock felt obligated to keep Bones
'happy'. "That estimate is of course barring,"

"Can't you even say a complete sentence without a statistical
exposition?" griped the doctor.

Spock raised an eyebrow. "I find a curious satisfaction, if I
understand the usage, in being as accurate as possible," he said.
"Especially around you," he added. "Perhaps I am overcompensating
for your consistant and general inaccuracy."

"I can't take you two anywhere, can I?" Jim cut in.

The corridor ended with the shuttle bay doors, which opened as
Jim and company reached them. He led them into the airlock.
After the first pair of doors closed behind them, the second,
leading into the hanger, opened. A lone shuttlecraft sat on the
turntable with the name 'Columbus NCC-1701/3', emblazoned on the
side. The small interplanetary craft hummed softly as the prep-
technician ran her through pre-warm and pre-flight procedures.

Spock and McCoy followed the Captain as he walked the 20
meters to the central rotational platform, then to the open doors
of the Columbus. Spock passed his Captain and entered the craft as
Jim stopped, realizing McCoy was still tagging along, and turned to
him.

"I hope you aren't waiting around for a goodbye kiss, Doctor,"
the Captain stated, in good humor.

"Very funny! I was just making sure you've got everything
needed from medical, and what do I get for it?" came the Doctor. "I
wonder if jokes like that are what made Vulcans turn into binary
brains."

"Calm yourself, Doctor. What's put you on edge this time?"


"Nothing's put me on edge. I just thought you might have been
able to work me into your schedule without me having to order you
down to sickbay for a complete physical."

"I'm sorry, Bones, is there something you need to discuss that
I don't know about?"

"I'm sure you are aware of it," he said, "Painfully aware."

Jim wrinkled his brow. 'What the heck are you talking about
Bones?', he thought to himself. Then an echo from his memory spoke
'bruised ribs'. Jim then connected that with "Painfully aware"
and naturally assumed they were finally on the same wavelength.

PAGE 23








He was wrong.

"Oh, that! Well, when I get back I'll stop in and you can
tell me how I'm doing," Jim said, tugging at his tunic which
covered the flexi-truss. "It doesn't seem to be important, though.
I hardly feel bruised at all."

"My God, Jim, I thought you were crushed." Bones, on the other
hand, was referring to Jim's heart, at the loss of the android /
lifeform / love: Reena Kapec.

"Crushed?" Jim could not remember being crushed. He could
remembered nothing of how the injury came into being. "Perhaps it
looked that way, but really, I'm fine," he said honestly. "I
almost don't even feel it anymore."

Spock, with his amazing Vulcan sense of hearing, naturally was
in earshot of the entire conversation. His muscles were
unconsciously tensed. His eyes were looking straight ahead. He
was listening intently, waiting for McCoy to let the 'feline' out
of the proverbial 'satchel'. Then he focused his eyes on the tip
of his nose. It was the first time he could recall ever seeing
nervous sweat on a Vulcan. "Fascinating," he whispered to no one.

"Tell that to the Fleet Cadets, Jim, not me. I know what
you've been through. I know it must hurt."

This was really starting to confuse the Captain. The doctor
never made this much fuss, unless it was more serious than he
thought. 'What is it? A ruptured spleen? Punctured kidney? No,
Bones would never have let me back on the bridge if there was that
much damage.'

Jim looked the doctor directly in the eyes. "Ok, Bones, I
think it's time I told you the truth." He waited for a moment to
muster his courage. It is not an easy thing for any Captain to
admit to the ship's doctor that there is a possibility of mental
failure. "Bones, I don't know 'how' I did it. OK?" He put his
hand to his side indicating his ribs. "I know it aches, but I
can't for the life of me think of how it could've happened. I,"

"Jim, matters of the 'heart' are always like that," Bones
said, cutting in, "We never know how these things happen. You just
have to take it easy. Now isn't the time to be under stress, so
don't overdo it, alright? Doctor's orders!"

'That's it!' Jim thought. 'It's not my ribs, it's my heart!
Cardiac arrest could account for my memory loss, and if CPR was
administered, it would leave my ribs bruised.'

Kirk now realized, at least he believed he understood, why the
doctor was concerned, and became very concerned himself. He had no
knowledge that his ribs became bruised while in hand to hand combat
with Reena's creator / lover, Flint. Spock had seen to it that he
did not remember, for the pain of her death was more than he
thought Jim could bear.

PAGE 24








Jim gulped. "I didn't know it was that bad. All I remember
is,"

"Jim," Bones cut him off again. "It's better you try to
forget. Let it heal, before you go out and it happens again."

"Again!?! Bones, you really think it could happen again!?!"

"If I know you, James T. Kirk, the next planet you set foot
on, you'll meet some young filly or 'miraculously' out from a tree
will pop a former sweetheart and, BLAMO!"

Jim gulped again. 'BLAMO!?!' His eyes widened a bit.

Spock could bear the conversation no longer. As he rose, he
noticed the imprints his fingers had left on the navigational
console where he had been sitting. "Remarkable," he stated, and
calculated the amount of pressure in kilograms PSI that it would
take to leave such impressions in the hyper-alloy aluminum 1
millimeter thick, as he stepped through the shuttle door.
"Fascinating," again to himself. "Captain, the Javelin is awaiting
us. Shall I signal them regarding a temporary delay?"

"No, Spock, I'm ready." He looked at the doctor, a bit
frightened by the 'BLAMO' comment. "Providing the Doctor thinks
I'll survive."

"You've got my approval." Bones smiled but noticed Jim's
hesitation to take him at his word. "Seriously, Jim, clean bill of
health," McCoy said, genuinely glad to have had the chat with Jim
and been able to clear the air of this unfortunate incident.

"Thanks, Bones. See you soon." the Captain said, feeling
slightly better himself, after McCoy's last comment and finally
satisfied that his mind was not unduly slipping. He stepped into
the shuttle and the doors closed behind him.





















PAGE 25



*** SIX ***



"Permission to come aboard," requested Captain James T. Kirk,
as he stepped down from the shuttlecraft, his First Officer behind
him.

"Permission granted, Captain," the young ensign stated. "If
you will follow me, I'll escort you to the briefing room."

The Captain followed, as did the Enterprise's Science Officer.
A team of 'Intelligence Grey' clad officers filed aboard the
Columbus with antigravs to carry the cargo to their specialized
analysis chambers.

"This way, Sirs," the junior officer said as they rounded the
corner, leaving the Javelin's hanger bay behind. "It must be
pretty dusty out there. Our bay crew will have your ship polished
by the time you are ready to leave."

"Thank you, Ensign," said Kirk as he observed various crewmen
briskly walking through the corridors. "How much damage did you
sustain passing through the concussion wave?"

"Minimal, Sir. We shut down sensors before we neared the
system, per your instructions. The initial force had time to
diminish and the asteroids had spread out enough to permit safe
passage. Though how you made it through must have been a miracle."

"Very likely," smiled the Captain. He was proud of the
performance of his crew. Always beating the odds. As crews went, he
believed he had the best, but sometimes he could not help but
think that it had to be more than human effort and chance that they
had been so fortunate in their many times of trouble.

"In here, Sirs." The door opened to a conference room. Jim
and Spock entered, trailed by the ensign. They were greeted by a
short and stocky man. Troy Hamill was his name, Captain of the USS
Javelin.

"Welcome aboard, Captain Kirk, Mr. Spock. I'll make the
introductions, then take my leave." Behind Captain Hamill,
standing next to a broad table of rare black Diri wood, stood two
men. The first, a tall silver-haired man with strong chiseled
features, wearing Commodore's braids and insignia. Jim recognized
this man as Commodore Stormcloud. Captain Hamill introduced him.
He saluted in rigid military fashion. Jim and Spock responded
accordingly. The second man was unknown to Jim. He was introduced
as Lieutenant Reudolpho Grensk. Grensk was slightly shorter than
the Commodore, but equally as formal in his military dress and
mannerisms.

Jim knew, on the spot, that the proceedings would adhere to
stiff military form. Little or no informal pleasantries.
Something told him that further-reaching ramifications had occurred

PAGE 30








than just the loss of Elba II.

"I'll be on the bridge, Commodore, gentlemen." he saluted
then exited the room, followed by the ensign who had been escort to
Kirk and Spock.

"Captain Kirk, Commander Spock, be seated," ordered Commodore
Stormcloud. He glanced down to the ebony table and spoke to the
console embedded in it. "Computer on," he said, as both he and the
lieutenant sat. "Recorder on," he added.

"Recorder on," spoke the computer, whose digitized voice
reminded Jim of the Enterprise's head nurse.

"Let the record show that I, Nathanial P. Stormcloud,
security clearance Alpha-Alpha-Beta, open this inquiry and
temporarily extend the aforementioned clearance to all in this
room. Proceed with scan verification."

The center of the table showed no seam; it looked as if it had
always been a single sheet of dark wood. A moment later a split
appeared in the center, revealing a set of doors. The doors parted
and out came a scanning armature that rose up to the Commodore's
eye level. A beam of low intensity laser light emitted from the
scanner, and began recording the retina pattern of his right eye,
cross-referencing and verifying that it was indeed, Commodore
Nathanial P. Stormcloud who issued the command.

"Verification complete. 99.8 percent accuracy," it stated.
The armature then scanned the entire room, noting only three other
officers present. It followed the same procedures as before. Each
officer stated his name and received the proper verification.

"Security clearances altered according to command," it stated,
then folded itself up and closed the doors behind it, becoming a
seamless tabletop once again.

"Captain Kirk," began Stormcloud, "recount for the record, the
events from first receiving the distress signal, to our arrival.
Include a summary of all communications to and from the USS
Enterprise."

Jim sighed to himself. This was the part of being the Captain
of a Starship that he liked the least.

Stormcloud stared at the Captain with a firm gaze throughout
the entire debriefing, only looking down at his monitor to confirm
the given times of messages passed and received. Spock noted his
lack of emotion, as the Captain spoke, and inwardly paid his
respects to the man.

One hour and ten minutes later the Captain ended with, as
requested, the arrival of Javelin. He was relieved to reach the
end of the tale, not liking to speak for extended periods of time,
and weary from consciously trying to omit unnecessary information,
to expedite the monologue.

PAGE 31








"Is there anything you wish to add, Captain Kirk?" asked
Stormcloud.

"Yes, an observation if I may." There was no response from
the Commodore, so Jim took it as permission given. "By certain
appearances, this incident would seem to go deeper than just a
'Grade 4' disaster, which by the evidence, a 4 is all it warrants."

"Continue, Captain. Except for tight beam transmissions
directly to you, you have been 'incommunicado' due to the
disturbances caused by the disaster. What impresses you to think
that it is more serious than your data states."

"You do, Sir," spoke the Captain rather boldly. "You are the
highest ranking intelligence officer in the fleet. Since our
'theft' of the Romulan Cloaking Device, Starfleet has been gearing
up for imminent invasion. 'Taskforce Rihanshu', headed by you, if
I remember correctly, is priority one."

"I assume that your point is 'why wouldn't I send someone else
in my place if this situation was less than a grade one priority.'"

A nod from Jim and a raised eyebrow from Spock spoke the
affirmative in place of words. Even the computer recorded it as a
'yes'.

"Perhaps you consider me to be of more importance than, in
reality, I am," Stormcloud offered the Captain.

"Commodore Stormcloud," Spock entered the conversation, "you
are next in line for the Admiralty. I estimate the odds are above
90 percent that you will attain that rank within the next six
months."

"Thank you for the vote of confidence, Mister Spock. You are
probably correct, as are you, Captain." His tough Military facade
lessened a bit. "Gentlemen, I intended for you to see this a
little later, however, you are now cleared and your suspicions are
well founded." He pressed a button on the console in front of him.
The lights dimmed. "Computer, run tape 7773T on wall viewer."

"Waiting," spoke the feminine voice of the computer.

"Now, blast it!", responded the Commodore.

"Password accepted; vocoder verified." Then the computer was
silent.

"Regular passwords can be forgotten and are less satisfying,"
Stormcloud commented as the viewer came to life displaying a
tranquil starscape. Chronometer readings, spatial coordinates and
ship's heading were computer superimposed in the lower left hand
corner and the Starfleet insignia, bearing the ship's name
'Schwarzkopf' at the lower right. The blackness of space, speckled
with white transformed instantly, completely, to a brilliant white,
then faded slowly back to its original view. Then the star scene

PAGE 32








began to shake violently, as if a cameraman had been taking
pictures of the stars while riding a bucking bronco.

"What you see is not a recording error gentlemen." The
Commodore pressed the pause button on his console. "It is an
explosion of like magnitude as the one that destroyed Elba II.
This one took place nearly 5 standard hours later than Elba's, on
the border of the Klingon Neutral Zone. The vessel that fired the
weapon destroyed the outpost that was attempting to prevent it's
crossover."

"About the weapon," Jim began, "did it give the same energy
readings as the ones we picked up?"

"The very same, and I'll bet you have already deciphered the
energy pattern and recognize its signature."

"The Garth Explosive," Jim responded. "We determined that it
was the cause, but we thought it had all been destroyed in the
initial explosion. Was there any more of the substance at another
location where it could have been stolen?"

"With the exception of a few grams, it was stored in it's
entirety on Elba, in Cory's vaults. The smallest of grains
removed from the planet has been accounted for and it certainly was
not common knowledge that the substance even existed."

"If I may, Sir," Spock interposed, "espionage is the most
effective weapon in any 'cold' war. It is illogical to assume any
secret is completely secure."

"Quite correct, Mr. Spock. It is highly possible that the
Federation's security has been compromised and that our enemies are
'in the know'. But Elba was the only place where any significant
quantity could be obtained. Although the components of the
explosive had been determined, the proportional formula was never
ascertained due to its complexity and instability. Two of our top
scientists died in the first of attempts to replicate it. They
were painstakingly careful in every stage of their work, but when
they only had two thirds of the components in the mixture, it
exploded, killing them both, destroying their notes."

Stormcloud cleared his throat and continued. "In the second
series of tests, remote transporters were used in hopes that a 'pad
to pad' beam would give us the formula breakdown in the computer
transit control. However, upon beaming, the substance's unstable
properties caused a core skip in the first transporter pad. Thus
after successfully transmitting the particle, the pad tried to beam
itself, which it naturally could not quite do. It did manage to
begin the beaming process, causing its own molecules to drift,
unravel and most of it finally turned to dust. The second pad, in
trying to reassemble the particle, simply shorted out and never
gave us any information, other than to stop using transporters in
the research."

Jim refrained from smiling, though with some effort. He

PAGE 33








momentarily thought of how Bones would enjoy seeing a transporter
destroy itself without endangering human lives. "The hostile
vessel headed into the neutral zone then?" he asked, letting the
gravity of the situation sink back in.

"Schwarzkopf's scanners could not penetrate the energy wave to
confirm it, but we are certain that it did. Our sources have
informed us of heavy Klingon activity across the border,
immediately after the incident, and it is reported by our
operatives across the 'zone' that the Klingonese Emperor and his
royal armada are leaving Klinzhai for a quadrant very near the
zone. I for one do not believe in coincidences. What I do believe
is that the Klingons are preparing for a major offensive strike.
There is one question that remains a complete mystery to us."

"I, Sir, can think of several," Spock interjected. "Not the
least of which is 'If there was Klingon involvement in these
incidents of destruction, why has Organia remained silent?'"

"Why indeed, Mr. Spock. Considering that it was they who
forced both our Federation and the Klingon Empire to cease any form
of aggression, or risk their unwanted intervention." The
Commodore's voice intensified, making his feelings about the
Organians plain. "We are now restricted by them from rightfully
deploying a great amount of our defensive weaponry. We are barred
from any first strike capability or retaliatory engagement. In
short, we are at the mercy of a race of beings whom we know nothing
about!" His anger toward the Organians took Kirk by surprise.

"Commodore," the Captain spoke in defense of them, "mercy
seems to be the very reason for their intervention. As you know,
Sir, I was there when it happened." The Captain placed both hands
on the table and rose, never breaking his eye contact with his
superior. "If you remember, we were at war. It was our fault that
Organia was stuck in the middle of it." Jim easily remembered the
circumstances of their 'first contact' with the aliens in question.
"For all the Federation's good intentions, we brought our conflict."
Jim momentarily reflected, "I brought our conflict with the
Klingons to their innocent planet, which would have been destroyed,
along with countless other civilizations, and possibly brought the
downfall of both Empire and Federation." The Commodore's brow
furrowed in anger, but Jim did not let that stop him. "Had not the
Organians proven their benevolence by the use of their power, we
might not be alive to debate their intentions."

"We are not here to debate their intentions Captain, and
though you had been the first in the Federation to make official
contact with them, I hardly see how you qualify as an expert on
the subject of what motivates them and why!" the Commodore fumed.

"With all due respect," spoke the Enterprise's only Vulcan,
"the Captain is quite correct when pointing out the nobility
evidenced by the Organians. Their act was one of complete
impartiality. Their goal was peace." Spock bridged the tips of
his fingers together. "In discerning the nature of anyone's
motives, one must weigh the words spoken with the deeds performed,

PAGE 34








and consider what is to be gained by the one being scrutinized.
Their words were complemented by their actions and the only thing
gained was an end to the conflict. The gain was ours."

"Wrong, Mr. Spock," the large man narrowed his eyes at the
science officer. "Control, not peace was achieved. Since the
incident we have heard 'Peace!', 'Peace!', when there is no peace.
We do not coexist with the Klingons by any mutual agreement of our
own wishes. This peace you speak of is nothing of the kind. We
and the Klingons are under control, by a race of beings whose power
is thrust upon us, against our will!" he said, spitefully, to the
Vulcan. "We do know this fact, Mr. Spock, that when the Klingons
appeared on Organia, the inhabitants were quick to abide by all
laws imposed on them and assured the enemy of complete cooperation.
You and your Captain even tried to persuade them to resist Klingon
rule and they ignored you. I do not hold with your opinion of
their benevolence nor impartiality. I believe they merely used
their power to postpone our conflict until it suited their
purposes."

Jim Kirk understood the Commodore's point of view. It was a
valid argument in part, yet made no room for the gratitude that
was due to Organia for preventing the largest war this galaxy had
ever faced. His attention shifted from his superior, to the silent
Lieutenant Grensk. Something about the lieutenant made Kirk
uneasy. 'His eyes', Jim thought. His eyes remained open,
unblinking for much longer than Jim would feel comfortable. Then
a slower than normal blink, and open once again. If Grensk's
attention was not constantly shifting from Spock and himself, he'd
swear the man had been heavily sedated.

"I submit that the argument is moot, Commodore," Spock stated
evenly. "Regardless of Organia's rationale, there is nothing the
Federation and Klingon Empire can do to alter the situation. As
long as Organia enforces the treaty, we are able to do nothing but
adhere to it."

"Then why, Mr. Spock," Stormcloud's voice, still bitter, "does
the Klingon Empire violate the treaty without Organian Reprisal?
We have been lulled to sleep with words of peace, only to find, and
possibly too late, the treacherous intentions of these so-called
'Angels of Mercy'!"

"There is no conclusive evidence of that, and every one of us
here knows it," cut in Kirk, trying to take the heat off his First
Officer. "There are many possibilities. You above all should know
how sketchy the details are. We're only working with bits and
pieces of information and there are no witnesses to the events,
save on the ship that headed into the neutral zone."

"Granted, Captain Kirk," his voice slightly calmer.
"However, I am officially putting all quadrants bordering the
Neutral Zone on full alert. Martial law is now in effect in all
systems within 10 parsecs of the zone. I have already mobilized
one quarter of the fleet to form a defensive line until we decide
how to proceed." Stormcloud pressed a button on his console and a

PAGE 35








data storage square ejected from its slot into the Commodore's
hand, who then passed it to Lt. Grensk. "If what I suspect about
the Organians is true, these actions will make little difference.
That is why I have a secondary phase to this strategy." The
Commodore extended his hand out to his aide, who placed a sealed
envelope bearing the Starfleet insignia with Kirk's name below,
into it.

"Our new orders?" Jim asked, used to receiving them via coded
subspace transmission.

"If it were up to me, Captain, these orders would be going to
someone who had a different, shall I say, 'perspective', on the
situation. But Starfleet seems to have more confidence in you than
I do." He pushed the packet across the table to Jim.

Kirk picked the packet up, examined the biomagnetic seal,
making sure there were no tamper marks. Regulations require this
before accepting any sealed classified document.

"You may go over the specific details on the Enterprise at
your leisure, but in essence, they are as follows: One; set course
for Organia. Two; observe war-time regulation 24 section 12, no
subspace communication until objective has been successfully
engaged. Three; while exactly eight standard hours from your
destination, set the Enterprise for self-destruct."

Jim Kirk opened his mouth to object, and was immediately
silenced by Stormcloud, who lifted a hand indicating that Jim had
better shut his mouth and listen to his superior officer. Spock
showed no sign that he cared that this could be the Enterprise's
last mission. 'Vulcan inscrutability', Jim thought. Sometimes it
really got on his nerves.

"The computer-controlled countdown to destruction is to be
modified for nine hours minus. Four; upon arrival, assume lowest
possible orbit. Five; disembark via shuttlecraft, I stress,
shuttlecraft. Contact this fellow, Ayelborne, with whom you dealt
with on your last mission to Organia, and question him as to why
there has been no effort on his part to enforce the treaty. Six;
and this part you had better follow to the letter or I will
personally dance at your court-martial, if Ayelborne has not
explained himself satisfactorily, you will return to the Enterprise
and command all hands to abandon ship. You will then allow
Enterprise to self-destruct by antimatter intermix, not hull
charges. I want Organia's surface wiped clean. Understood,
Captain?" asked Stormcloud finally.

"Understood!" answered the Captain, not attempting to conceal
his contempt from his superior. "One question. What makes you
think we have the ability to destroy the Organians? The Klingons
used disrupters on them to no effect."

"An anti-matter explosion is considerably different from a
simple disrupter, Captain." He pointed to the packet Jim was
holding. "Lieutenant Grensk will be accompanying you on this

PAGE 36








mission as an observer and to document everything done on the
mission. You will afford him every courtesy but ask nothing of
him."

"I am perfectly capable of carrying out a mission without
being escorted by an intelligence watchdog. I'm a Starfleet
Captain, and I am certain that my record speaks for itself."

"Your record speaks many things, Kirk. We shall see just how
accurate the record is. Nevertheless, you might say Mister Grensk
is my personal insurance policy." Stormcloud pushed himself away
from the table. "If there is no further comment, gentlemen, I will
call this debriefing to a close."

"Sir," Spock raised an eyebrow, "there is a great deal that
has not been covered, and the evidence, as of yet, is
circumstantial, to say the least."

"I assure you, Mr. Spock, that the investigation is far from
over, on our part. Is there anything specific you wish to ask or
disclose?"

"There is, Sir. Though all the relevant particles of debris
have yet to be recovered, there has not been any substance analyzed
that would indicate the destruction of a Starship. Not even the
trace energy of the antimatter reactor has been detected. My
question therefore is, what happened to the Fringe Ranger?"

"Missing, Mr. Spock," was his only reply. "Lieutenant Grensk
will meet you at your shuttlecraft in twenty minutes." He looked
at Kirk, then Spock. Both were about to ask more questions. He
held up his hand to stop them. "Dismissed!" he said.

Jim looked at Spock, knowing the Vulcan could read the
frustration on his face. "Let's go, Mr. Spock." He saluted the
Commodore and left the room with his First Officer. They were
greeted on the other side of the door by the young Ensign who had
escorted them to the conference room.

"If you will follow me, Sirs, I will lead you back to your
craft," he said, almost cheerfully.

"You may escort Mr. Spock to the shuttle, Ensign, and you can
point me to the nearest head," said Jim.

"Down corridor C, third door to the left." With that, Spock
and the Ensign proceeded down the hall, opposite in direction to
corridor C.

Kirk followed the ensign's directions, but found the entrance
blocked by a maintenance man unloading his tool box from a gurney.
Looking up from his tools, the man in the maintenance jumpsuit
raised his hand indicating for Jim to stop. "You probably don't
want to go in there, Sir!" the man warned.

"That's strange, Mister,"

PAGE 37








"Maintenance Chief Holtz, Sir."

"That's strange, Chief Holtz, I was under the impression that
'that' was exactly the place I wanted to go."

"Yes, Sir, I mean no, Sir. It's not that you aren't allowed,
but we are installing a new fixture, specially designed for the
Ambassador we're receiving next week," he spoke assuming the
Captain was aware of whom he was talking about. "He's a
'Stelmeko', Sir," he added for clarity.

Jim had made it a point to keep abreast of all the new races
entering the Federation, but this was a new one on him. He shook
his head admitting his ignorance.

"They're built differently than we are. Very differently!" he
emphasized. "I've never seen one, mind you, but by the design of
the facility I'm installing, I'm not sure I want to," he said very
seriously.

"There are many races that look different than we do but when
you get down to it, you'll find we are all pretty much the same."
'Besides,' he thought to himself, 'how strange can a toilet be?'

"Gives me the willies," the maintenance chief stated as if he
could read the Captain's thoughts.

James gave him a half smile as he stepped around him, entered
the restroom, and closed the door behind him. Reaching behind his
lower back, he pulled out his communicator and snapped it back,
thus opening it. He adjusted the frequency for tightest possible
beam and aimed it towards Enterprise's relative position. Before
he could speak, his eyes caught a glimpse of the alien waste
disposal unit. His eyes widened as he tried to take in the view of
the hideous, semi-organic, gurgling mass of, something? Then the
smell hit his nostrils. His brain expanded to three times the
diameter of his skull, or at least that's what it felt like to him.
Then he heard a low moan coming from the unit and saw its plastic
tubing, which seemed to be woven through the horrendously shaped
mass, start to move. He put his free hand up to his throbbing
forehead and did an about-face to relieve the strain on his eyes.

Jim twisted a knob on his communicator. It beeped twice. "K-
Kirk to Enterprise," he managed to breathe.

"Uhura here, Sir."

"Uhura, I need you to search Starfleet personnel records on a
Lieutenant Reudolpho or Randolfo, I can't remember which, Grensk.
G-R-E-N-S-K," he spelled for her. "Presently attached to S.I. Age
about thirty. Get me everything you can on him and send it to my
cabin." He wiped the cold sweat from his brow. "How's Mr. Scott
coming with our propulsion unit?"

"I don't know, Sir. He's climbed up into the access-way and we
haven't heard from him since," she said. "Is there anything

PAGE 38








else?"

"Is there what?" His head was pounding and his stomach was
beginning to knot. "Oh, no Lieutenant. Kirk out."

He replaced his communicator and made a straight shot for the
door, not wanting another look at the freakish monstrosity. As he
stepped through the door, he quickly exhaled and gulped a breath of
fresh air.

The Maintenance Chief looked at him with a red face. "Sorry,
Sir, I should have given you an odor screen. The ventilation isn't
hooked up properly yet."

"C-Carry on," he managed and made his way back down the
corridor, trying to keep from staggering.









































PAGE 39



*** SEVEN ***



The Klingon cruiser Fury defolded from hyperspace followed
closely by the Intruder's ship. They were only on the rim of the
territory claimed by the Klingonese, yet if traffic had not been
diverted, they would have already encountered many spacefaring
merchants, miners and trade vessels of all kinds.

The Trinary System before them had been the agreed rendezvous
site. Specifically, they were to meet in orbit around the ninth
planet of the system. Kang stepped onto the bridge in full dress
uniform. This consisted of black armor and cape with the red
family crest of his House of Klinzhai, on his chest. His armor hid
many weapons besides the disrupter that hung at his side. He was
prepared to meet his Emperor, whether to fight by his side or die
at his hand, he could not tell.

"We have arrived, my lord," spoke the Science Officer.

"Do we have full power yet?"

"No, my lord. Power level is only at eighty percent," she
responded.

"Have repairs been completed on the cloaking device?" He took
his chair of command and sat heavily in it.

"No, lord Kang."

"No?" He turned his head in anger towards Mara. He looked at
her for a moment and regained his equanimity. "It was to be
completed before we broke light." He could see her tremble
slightly, trying to hide her concern for her husband.

"The device failed incorporeality twice in simulation, Sir.
At last report, its completion was near, but no definite timeframe
was given. I will apprise you when it is operational."

"I do not suppose it will matter until we have full power
restored. Advise me when we have both."

"Yes, my lord," 'and my love', she added in her thoughts.

It had been two standard days since the enemy had entered
Klingon space and every moment weighed heavily on Kang. In his
crew, he could see a turmoil of emotions. Some were afraid of the
Emperor's anger at their failure. Most were afraid of what the
enemy had in store for the Empire, and all, including Kang himself,
had a blind hatred for the foe. Many strategies on how to battle
the intruder were discussed, planned and discarded, for by
Imperial command, the Fury was ordered to make no further attempts
of aggression, a directive any Klingon would find most difficult
to obey. If not for his crew's fierce loyalty, he might have had
mutiny in the ranks. The greatest advantage to being named a 'Hero

PAGE 40








of the Empire', was being able to hand pick his ship's detail.
They were more than a crew to him, they were a tempered force, a
team. They would, he was certain, follow him to the ends of the
universe, if need be. Just now, however, he did not feel worthy of
their devotion.

"Sir, long range scanners are registering five contacts.
Distance, point eight, bearing seventy-two mark three. It is the
Imperial Command Ship and escort."

"Gor, open a channel and stand by to receive."

"Channel open, Sir," replied the communications officer.

"Standard orbit achieved around Tukom Tal nine, Sir. Intruder
ensuing at eight kel's astern," said the helmsman.

"Transmission coming in now sir," spoke Gor.

"On screen," commanded Kang.

The forward view of the planet they were now in orbit about,
dissolved into the ominous presence of Klinzhai's greatest monarch.
Kang rose from his command chair only to kneel before his Emperor.

"Rise," spoke the Emperor to Kang, though strangely not quite
in the form of a command. Kang stood in silence before the image
of his lord. "Kang the Destructor, you return from your assignment
without victory for your Emperor?" Kang remained silent. "Do you
now await my wrath?" the Emperor inquired in his bass voice.

"I expect it for myself and request my lord's mercy towards my
crew." He now awaited the death command.

"Do you believe that you will serve my purposes better alive
or dead?" He spoke in an even tone.

"I have failed you, my Emperor, whatever your purposes."

"I see no failure in realizing the need not to throw your life
and that of your crew away. Had Volte and Pakor not acted so
rashly, they might have been able to share in our soon coming
victory over the Federation."

Kang held his peace, not knowing for sure if his life was to
be spared or not. He did know that whatever was stated by Tromok
at this moment, could by no means be construed as irrevocable.

"Commander Kang, by using your intelligence, and restraint,
you have not only brought me the weapon our best scientists could
not have conceived of developing, but an ally to my realm." the
Emperor tossed a bejeweled ceremonial dagger to the floor, by his
own feet. "I give you back your life, and impart honors to you
as well."

Kang stood from the deck and with both hands to his side, he

PAGE 41








bowed his head. "Thank you, my Emperor," he said stiffly,
unaccustomed to gratitude, wary of flattery. Had he turned his
head, he would have seen Mara wiping a tear from her eye.

"You will now fall back while I approach the escorted vessel
behind you," the Emperor commanded. Then Kang saw it. It was the
truth behind the words he had heard. In the Emperor's eyes, rage.
Rage at the terrible power Kang had loosed in his empire. It was
the reaction that Kang had expected from him all along. Now it was
confirmed. Kang inwardly began to prepare himself for his own
death.

"As you command, my lord," Kang said, and the screen went
dark. "Torvak, move us out slowly, but do not exceed photon
distance from the enemy." Kang walked back to his Science Officer.
"We are not out of this yet, my wife," he whispered to her,
confident of the fact.

"He gave you your life, would he retreat from his word?" she
asked under her breath.

"Military men say many things they do not mean, while under
enemy observation. We will see how forgiving he really is when I
present myself before him, officially and in private." He rubbed
her cheek with the back of his hand. "He is going to try something.
I do not know what, but he is doing his best to play the gentleman
for our enemy's benefit." He placed his hand behind her head and
felt the softness of her hair. "It is I who fear for his life now.
And that of the Empire."




* * *




The four ships leading the Emperor's massive battle cruiser
slowed, allowing it to pass between them. Its size boasted of
great power and its weaponry epitomized danger. The intruder's
ship paled before its presence, as it moved within five hundred
meters to its broadside, then stopped.

The Emperor observed his opponent's vessel on his view screen,
noting all was as Kang had reported. It was indeed an older class
Starfleet ship, no longer bearing the markings of her commission.
Only standard Federation registration numbers and running lights
adorned her, with the name 'Fringe Ranger' lettered across her
circular prow.

"My liege, your guard awaits you in the main transporter
room," the Captain of the Thunder announced.

The Emperor donned his new pair of gloves and made sure his
weapons belt. He glanced over to Admiral Sorr, who saluted him

PAGE 42








with fist to chest, then arm extended.

"You serve me well, Sorr. Let every ship know that when I
return, we will bring news of our victory back to Klinzhai, that
they may see how none challenge their Emperor and triumph!" With
that, he turned on his heel and left for the transporter room.

"Captain Kom, I want all sensors on that ship until the
Emperor returns. If there is anything out of order, I want you to
transport him back and reverse our course, at maximum warp.
Understood?"

"Understood, Admiral Sorr!"

"Transporter room," the Admiral spoke into wall communicator.

"Yes, Sir," responded the officer on duty.

"The Emperor is on his way, take great care in what you do
until he has safely returned!"

"Yes, My lord!"

"Now all we can do is sit." He spoke again to the Captain.
"Our triumph is near, if only it were sure," he reflected. It was
then that Sorr felt an irrational but powerful dread in his heart.
He felt the deadly jaws of a trap close around his soul and he
could do nothing but inwardly despair.



























PAGE 43



*** EIGHT ****



Captain's log, Stardate: 5850.3.

We are 8 hours, 15 minutes from the planet Organia. Our
mission is contingent upon the answers I receive from the
inhabitants of the planet. To be an ambassador of good will or the
weapon of their destruction will be decided in just nine hours.
My crew is only aware of our destination. I am sure that when I
give the command for self-destruct, there will be questions that I
am unable to answer, and fears I will be powerless to quell.

Lieutenant Grensk, who is accompanying us on our voyage, is a
puzzle I have yet to solve. Uhura could find no record of his
existence when I gave her instructions to investigate his history.
No prior service records, nor credit holdings, not even birth
records were uncovered, until 5 hours ago, when I instructed her to
search again. Then she found his complete file located where it
clearly was not before. I have had a peculiar feeling about
Grensk, that I would have passed off as asocial behavior due to
the lack of trust his superior had in me. Notwithstanding, Spock
noted a strangeness to him as well. 'As if he were Vulcanoid,
masquerading as a human,' is how my First Officer put it. Spock
made several attempts to 'apparently' accidentally make physical
contact with Grensk, in order to make passive mental reception of
his thoughts, but Grensk has always managed to keep distance
between them.

Ship status: Against Chief Engineer Scott's advisement, we are
at warp seven. Mr Scott is still reporting a possibility of an
uncontrolled antimatter implosion, if we keep up our present
velocity. Under my current orders, I have little choice but to
have our speed maintained, though it is against my own personal
judgement. If we must, we can reduce speed to warp 5 and continue
to use warp speed through the Organian solar system to the planet
Organia. Warp speed is inadvisable within the proximity of any
gravitational influences, but we could still meet our deadline
should we have to slow.

In four hours the last of the fleet should be arriving just
beyond sensor range of the Klingon Side of the Neutral Zone. My
greatest fear is not in the possibility of our destroying Organia
under orders, for I do not believe we have the power to do so. But
our very presence might either provoke them to anger or cause them
to remove all restraints from both treaty sides, allowing an inter-
galactic war, to which there would be no winner.

The Federation is hanging off a ledge, and my actions may be
the force that pushes it over the brink.

End Log.



* * *

PAGE 44







James T. Kirk heard the cabin chime and allowed it to ring
twice, in case, he hoped, it rang by mistake. On the second ring,
he merely said, "Come."

Both Spock and Dr. McCoy entered as Jim lifted himself from
his desk to meet them.

"Captain," Spock began, but was immediately cut off by McCoy.

"Jim, we've got a problem." the Doctor corrected himself,
"Make that a Big Problem!"

"Not another one," Jim stated tiredly, sitting back down and
turning his chair to face the two. "This isn't my week."

"Jim, Spock told me of the suspicion you were having about
that S.I. officer you have watching you. At first I thought you
both were acting a bit paranoid, but Spock convinced me to follow
him with my medi-scanner in hand and take a reading while Spock had
him occupied."

"So, what's the Verdict? Is he Vulcan, Romulan or just a
flake?"

"None of the above, Jim... He's an android."

"An android? Bones, are you sure?"

"Not merely an android, Captain." Spock found an opening in
the conversation before McCoy could completely misinform him. "He
is a modified R-D-I combat android from the planet Tolmera. During
the Tolmerian wars, the automaton was considered an excellent
killing machine. Supposedly, the last of them had been destroyed
or dissassembled in accordance with the terms of the armistice
pact. I suspect that not only is that an inaccurate fact, but it
seems that certain members of Starfleet have taken it upon
themselves to put at least one of them to use in a probable
suicide mission."

"Suicide mission? Spock, this isn't supposed to be a suicide
mission!" Jim felt a cold needle-like jab in his stomach. Fear.

"Perhaps not for us Captain," stated Spock, "albeit, I believe
we have evidence that Commodore Stormcloud had an ulterior motive
for sending it, rather than to observe you."

"You mentioned suicide mission, Spock. What could the android
do that we weren't already ordered to do? Make sure there are no
witnesses to the extermination of the Organians?" Jim asked.

"I do not know exactly what the android's mission entails.
Suffice to say, he is completely capable of destroying the planet
Organia by himself."

"Tell him why, you pointed ear pixie, or are you waiting for


PAGE 45








the movie to come out!" McCoy was full of old Earth expressions.

"I believe that I was in the process of explaining myself,
when you..."

"Spock, just tell me!" Jim said impatiently.

"Captain, do you recall the Commodore stating that he had
accounted for every grain of the Garth explosive that was removed
from Elba II for purposes of experimentation?" Spock queried.

"Yes Spock, continue."

"The Commodore neglected to mention the fact that 'every grain
accounted for' had been placed in a detonation encasement lodged in
the chest of our Mr. Grensk," Spock concluded.

"This is definitely not my week," Jim said dejectedly. "The
Commodore's 'insurance policy'," he said remembering the words of
Stormcloud.

"Apparently," agreed Spock.

"So that's why we were to take the shuttlecraft down to the
planet, instead of transporting down." Jim rubbed his chin. "The
substance can't be transported."

"Now that I know this much, would ya mind filling me in on
what the heck we are going to Organia for?" the Doctor said.

"I'm afraid I've said too much already, Bones."

"That's great! We're headed for a planet that may or may not
be destroyed by a walking time-bomb, which may or may not take us
with it, and you still think you should keep your Chief Medical
Officer in the dark about why!" McCoy said angrily.

"Orders," Jim simply said, then added, "Sorry, Bones."

"Well then, if you'll excuse me, I'll go back to sickbay. At
least I know what's going on down there." He turned to leave.

"Not so fast, Bones." Jim grabbed his arm, "I may not be able
to tell you everything about our mission, but I might need your help
in dealing with our mechanical Starfleet officer."

"I'm a doctor, not the bomb-squad!" he countered, fidgeting
with his uniform.

"If I may, Captain," Spock broke in. "We are due on the bridge
in four point eight minutes. Perhaps we could continue with Doctor
McCoy's meaningless banter afterwards."

"Why you copper blooded..."

"Bones!" Jim interrupted, "Spock's right. We have to go. You

PAGE 46








go on to sickbay and we'll join you in about 15 minutes and see if
we can come up with something that will help."

McCoy looked at Spock, opened his mouth to speak, closed it,
rolled his eyes while shaking his head and walked out of Jim's cabin.





* * *





Uhura was sitting relaxed, at her station, monitoring blank
channels. She had little to do since the communications blackout
had been issued. She hummed softly to herself and rotated her
chair to look at the forward viewscreen's depiction of the stars
in front of them. She looked down at Sulu and Checkov, who were
smiling as they quietly exchanged jokes.

They were not unconcerned with the current events which had
forced them toward their destination. They were aware that it was
a priority mission and that the details could only be given on a
'need to know' basis, which caused even greater concern among them.
On the surface, the bridge crew seemed to have its normal, though
with no Captain on deck, more casual, "high" morale. Underneath,
however, the tension escalated with every kilometer gained towards
Organia.

The turbo-lift doors opened and out of it stepped Lieutenant
Grensk. He looked at the empty captain's chair and registered to
himself that Sulu must have console command. "Mr. Sulu, where is
Captain Kirk?"

Sulu faced the lieutenant, "He is in his cabin, and left word
that he is not to be disturbed..." he said, "By you," he added a
little too cheerfully.

"We are now 8 hours and 47 seconds from destination orbit, are
we not?" questioned the android.

Sulu looked at the chronometer and without showing his
surprise at Grensk's accuracy, he said, "Eight hours, forty-one
seconds, mark."

"Lieutenant Uhura, please contact Captain Kirk and inform him
that his presence is urgently required on the bridge," spoke
Grensk, unemotionally.

The lift opened again, as Captain Kirk and Spock entered,
before Grensk completed his sentence.

"Belay that, Uhura," Jim said as he and Spock walked over to

PAGE 47








the ship's emergency console. "Computer, this is Captain James T.
Kirk, engage auto-destruct program, version A7."

"Working," spoke the familiar female voice. "Encoded Nine
hours to destruct from final sequence."

The lift doors parted once again, allowing Chief Engineer
Montgomery Scott to exit it. He promptly joined the others at the
console.

The significance of the Captain's command caught everyone's
attention and caused several worried looks to be exchanged.

"Good of you to join us, Mr. Scott," the Captain greeted
Scotty.

"Good? I wouldna call riggin ma engines to blow 'good',
Captain. In fact, I've been spendin the past two days tryin to
keep em from doin just that."

"Awaiting initiation code from Captain James T. Kirk," the
computer prompted.

"Understood, Mr. Scott, but you don't think we'd be here if I
wasn't under orders or the situation didn't necessitate it?"

"Does the Captain wish to cancel auto-destruct procedures?"
the computer queried.

"Negative," Jim lied to the computer as he rested his eyes on
the Intelligence Officer across the room.

Jim spoke his code into the console, without taking his eyes
off the lieutenant. Spock identified himself and spoke his part to
the computer, followed by Mr. Scott in turn.

"Awaiting the final sequence for auto-destruct," it announced.

"Computer, this is Captain James T. Kirk, initiate final
sequence, code zero, zero, zero, destruct, A7, zero," he said.

The computer beeped 3 times and stated, "Nine hours from
destruct," and became silent, awaiting eight 60 minute intervals to
announce the hourly countdown. It would give a count by minutes at
the last hour and by seconds at T minus one minute to destruct.

Jim straightened himself and turned from the lieutenant to
Uhura. "Has communications silence been broken by anyone?"

"No, Sir, all channels are clear," she responded
professionally, not betraying her fear.

Jim stepped down to his chair of command and snapped the
intra-ship comm button to open. "This is the Captain. Though I
am under orders not to disclose the details of our mission, it is my
is my prerogative to inform you that the Enterprise is currently in

PAGE 48








countdown for destruct. We have almost 9 hours to countermand the
order, but in the event that I deem it necessary to allow it to
complete, Uhura will give the evacuation code and all hands will
report to their assigned shuttle craft for emergency
disembarkation. You will have no less than twenty minutes to
report and launch, so there will not be any need to worry, or
stampede. I'll keep you posted if the situation changes. Captain
out." He depressed the button again with the bottom of his fist
and closed the comm. channel. Just as quickly as the flip of the
switch, an idea came to him.

"Mr. Scott, have your men finished cleaning and inspecting
the propulsion units on all our shuttles yet?" Jim asked.

"No sir, but we should ha them done by 0900."

"That will give me two hours clear before I need one." He
paused to glance at Grensk again. "Mr. Scott," he continued, "how
long will it take to refuel, restock fresh supplies, emergency
units, recalibrate all sensors and life support systems and check
structural integrity of all shuttles? By the book!" he
emphasized.

"Well, Sir, with all ma men workin without breaks, I'd guess
about three more hours added to the first estimate. 1200 hours.
Just about the time Enterprise is set to blow, Sir," the Scotsman
said.

"According to regulations, we are required to have them in
that state of readiness in the event of evacuation. Isn't that
correct, Mr. Grensk?"

Lieutenant Grensk was unaware that the Captain was speaking to
him, until his name was mentioned. He snapped his head up to face
the Captain and replayed the question to himself. "That is
correct, Captain. However,"

"It appears we will have to, in the interest of adhering to
Starfleet regs. concerning the safety of my crew, forego the
Commodore's personal order to use the shuttle craft as
transportation to the planet," Jim said, smiling inwardly but
intoning his voice to express sadness at having to disobey the
Commodore's order.

"But Sir," the lieutenant stressed unemotionally, "the
Commodore specifically,"

"Lieutenant," Spock interrupted. "You of all people would not
insinuate that the Commodore would order a Starfleet Captain to
violate standing Starfleet orders," he stated as if it were a
foregone conclusion, not a question.

"No, Sir," he responded to the First Officer. "Captain, I
would like to offer my services to Mr. Scott to expedite the
preparation of one craft, in time for planetfall."


PAGE 49








"Request denied. That would keep you from the duties assigned
you by the Commodore. Whatever they are." Kirk rested back into
his chair, as if he intended to remain there. "Besides, I don't
want you getting under foot of Mr. Scott's repair detail."

"But Sir, I am fully rated on,"

"That will be all Lieutenant," Jim silenced him abruptly.

"Aye, Sir," responded Grensk. "Permission to leave the
bridge?"

"Granted," said Kirk and all eyes, many quite curious,
followed Grensk's exit.

"Mr. Scott, get your men started and keep an eye out for
anything suspicious."

"Aye, Sir," Scotty said and exited the bridge.

"Uhura, have Security post four guards around the shuttlebay,
with instructions not to allow Lieutenant Grensk admittance," Jim
said, then added, "Tell Security that phasers are not to be issued
to the guards."

"Right away, Sir," she said as she pondered the meaning of his
command.

"Mr. Spock," Kirk said as he lifted himself from the chair, "I
believe we have a date to keep in sickbay. Mr. Checkov, the
con is yours."

"Aye, Keptin," Checkov said eagerly, unable to restrain the
joy from his voice. To him it was a rare and precious thing to sit
in the command chair of the Enterprise. Few would disagree.

The lift doors closed behind the Captain and Spock.

"What do you suppose that is all about?" queried Uhura.

"I don't know," spoke Sulu, "but the plot's thickening."
















PAGE 50



*** NINE ***




The Imperial Throneship Thunder dwarfed by far the brave
vessel from Federation space. Blinking running lights were the
only sign that these ships were under power and at the ready to
enter battle on any given moment. The invisible deflector screens
of both ships dropped simultaneously, on cue, as they reached the
pre-arranged transfer point. Like two silent statues, they
remained motionless, dispassionate to the rest of the universe.

The Emperor stood on the dimly lit transporter platform with a
guard on each side and a third directly behind, with his back
towards the Emperor. All but the Klingon monarch had weapons
drawn, as they prepared for the dissimilation of their atoms and
their arrival on enemy's figurative soil.

"rIH ,jol!", the Emperor commanded his transporter chief in
their native tongue.

The transporter field wave caught the four men, transferring
them, body, soul and spirit, into the unknown. In literally 'no-
time' for the Emperor, he found himself squinting in the bright
transporter room of his enemy. Before him stood a tall, lean, blue-
skinned Andorian, who bowed low to him and righted himself once
again.

The Andorian took one step towards the transporter platform.
"Emperor Tromok of the Klingon Realm, my lord bids you greetings
and welc... "

The Emperor dove at the Andorian, knocking him to the floor
and pinning him there. With a speed that belied his massiveness,
he pulled a dagger from his wrist-band and held it to his
opponent's azure throat. "What treachery is this?", Tromok spoke
in a deep and deadly voice, "Where are my guards?". He and the
Andorian were alone in the transporter room.

"They are suspended in transit," the Andorian whispered as the
pressure from the blade on his windpipe, would not allow volume.
"They are well, I swear. My master sent me, unarmed, to escort you
to him."

"He betrays our agreement, and you will pay the price."

"He does not, Sir," the Andorian whispered as boldly as
possible. "He allowed you three escorts on board. You have three
and they are on board... technically," he said as his antennae
began to droop.

"Now answer me this and choose your words with care, or you
shall surely die. Why has 'your lord' practiced this deceit?"

"He thought it prudent to keep," he took a shallow breath,

PAGE 51








"to keep our guards separate to," another breath, "ensure that no
hostile action might," The Emperor lessened the pressure to
allow the Andorian to finish his speech before passing out. "might
erupt between your guards and ours. He wanted control of the
situation to be between you and him. 'At the top', so to speak."

The Emperor understandably did not believe that this was the
whole truth, an element of it perhaps, but he knew there was more.
The stakes were too high for him to back out now. In the least, he
would lose his life. At most he would lose his honor, an
experience he never wanted to face again.

The Emperor lifted himself off the Andorian and with his free
hand, grabbed the man by the back of his shaggy white hair, pulling
him to his feet. He forced him against the wall and replaced the
dagger to its sheath hidden in his wristband.

"You will instruct your Master to let me speak to my ship.
They will detect that I am alone and attack at any moment."

"The transporter has been modified to allow your guard's life
signs to emanate from within the system. Your ship has not lost
contact with them. They merely cannot get a direct fix on them,"
the Andorian said, still heaving air in and out of his lungs.

Tromok checked his rage that was building up within him... for
the moment. He was in a trap with every exit leading to
destruction. All but one. The one he was being maneuvered into by
his enemy. 'It is said,' he thought to himself, 'that sometimes
the only way out is through. Very well. I am still the predator
here. The trap will be my own!' He felt the mechanism inside his
glove, giving him the confidence of one who is prepared for the
worst.

"Very well, lead me to your master," spoke the Emperor of
Klinzhai.

"Yes, Your Majesty."

The Emperor released him and let him step away to catch his
breath until he was able to comply. The Andorian calmly turned and
proceeded to the exit. Tromok followed, keeping no further than a
meter between himself and his escort.

They made their way down the hall to a turbo-shaft, then up
two decks and out to another hall, looking identical to the first.
There were no other crewmen to be seen by the Klingon Monarch. No
muffled voices, no other sounds than that of the ship itself and
the footsteps the two made. He strained his ears to hear the
rustle of clothing or the quiet breathing of an assassin possibly
behind any door. He could detect nothing, but tensed himself
against the unexpected anyway.

The Andorain stopped short of a double door entrance marked
'Conference Room One' and stepped aside to allow the Emperor to
pass. He bowed low again and extended his blue hand, indicating to

PAGE 52








the Klingon that he may now enter.

It would be a sign of weakness to force the Andorian to enter
first but at the moment of Tromok's hesitation, the double doors
parted. They revealed a long table with a massive chair at the far
end. The figure seated in the chair rose to reveal his own
impressive stature. His short light brown hair with streaks of
grey, his posture and stance, his purple robe and even his eyes
spoke of nobility and power embodied within.

"Mocdar Jek Tromok, Emperor of all the realm of Klinzhai,
welcome to my humble ship," he said with grace and a formal bow of
his own.

The Emperor stepped through the door which closed behind him.
"And who is it that bids me welcome?" Tromok rumbled.

"The man who offers a galaxy," he said and placed both hands
on his hips. "I also offer you my hospitality. Please be seated."

The Emperor remained standing. "Klingons do not sit with the
enemy. Their Emperor makes no exception." He too placed his hands
on his hips, facing his foe. His cape fanned out over his
shoulders and spilled down to the ground. "Unless I am convinced
otherwise, I will stand," his deep voice challenged.

"Very well," the host smiled as if he regarded the Emperor as
merely charming. "Might his Highness consider a truce until our
positions are established?"

The monarch considered this for a moment, knowing some
semblance of progress must be made. "Agreed," he stated and eased
himself into the chair designed for a smaller boned human. He
pressed a button in his gloved hand and felt a tiny comforting
click.

"I assume that you have already decided on an offer for my
weapon? Possibly several counteroffers, if the first is
unacceptable to me?" the Host spoke, as he sat back in his own
chair, draping his right leg over the cushioned arm. He looked
thoroughly comfortable and nonchalant.

"Before we bargain," the Emperor looked steadfastly into his
host's hazel eyes, "I would know your name," he demanded.

A smile that could charm a roaring volcano spread across the
enemy's handsome face, "Of course you would," he said most amiably.
"My name is well established throughout the known universe."

"Enough!" the Emperor stood to his feet, toppling his chair
behind him. With lightning speed he produced a small disrupter
that was hidden in the small of his back. He aimed it at his
opponent's midsection. "I will kill you without your name!" he
bellowed.

The smile never left the host's face, though he did raise an

PAGE 53








eyebrow at the Emperor's speed and shortness of temper. "It is my
race's custom, granted an out of date one, to allow a last word to
be spoken by the one who is about to be... 'deceased'."

"I have no constraints to such a custom."

"This 'is' my ship," the enemy simply offered.

"So be it. I am not without honor, however, if I detect the
slightest flinch, you will be indistinguishable from the dust of
your vaporized chair."

"Understood."

"Speak then, this 'last word'," the Emperor commanded.

"Your disrupter is... empty."

The Emperor depressed the firing button. Nothing happened.

"I ordered the Andorian who escorted you, to lock on to all
close proximity power sources, which might be used in a weapon, and
transport them to me." With his left hand he produced two small
power cells of differing size from his breast pocket and set them
on the table before him. "I know that this first energy pack is
the one you assumed to be powering your disrupter. I am, however,
at a loss as to what 'this' power cell was used for," he said,
indicating the smaller of the two."

The Emperor felt an intense pang in his stomach, realizing the
sonic synthesizer hidden in his glove, was as useless as the weapon
that was still pointed at his host.

"No matter," said the Host, obviously in complete control of
the situation. To stress the fact, he casually drew a weapon of
his own, not aiming it but merely letting his guest understand that
there may be a limit to his hospitality. "Please sit now, and you
may yet find the answers to your many questions."

"I will sit." He dropped his weapon to the floor and slowly
righted his chair, "but I am weary of the games you play." He was
in a mild state of shock at being so easily outwitted by the man.
"You demanded my presence. Very well, I am here. All I need now is
to know your price." He sat and faced his host, concealing his
fury and his shame.

"I have a price... and it is high, but I will not yet name it.
And though I will not compromise, I am still curious as to what you
intended to offer me."

"I offer you first, your life. Make no mistake, that will be
the first thing you will lose if I do not return to my ship.
Whatever else it costs us."

"No doubt, but continue," he said. His patience seemed to
have no end, but the Emperor was not deceived. He knew a fellow

PAGE 54








warrior, and was feeling nothing but danger from the man across
from him.

"I offer you second, a planet to rule under me. You will
preside over all affairs that you deem worthy, and you may
establish any laws of your choice, as long as you remain loyal to
the Klingon Empire. Which is the third part to my offer. In so
swearing your loyalty, an oath not to be taken lightly, I will
provide two fully armed battle cruisers for your personal
protection. You may use them as planetary defense against any
intruder who is not also loyal to me."

"That is, indeed, a grand offer," said the host with a nod of
his head. "If I were, per chance, a less ambitious man, I would
consider accepting it." He stroked his grey temple with his middle
finger. "It is good but it is not my price."

The Emperor's face shone red and his jaw muscles flexed
visibly through his cheeks as he clenched his teeth. He knew his
own patience was required, but to expect a Klingon, and not just
any Klingon, to endure the arrogance of this man was requiring too
much. "What is your price?" he asked between his teeth, debating
if he actually wanted to know. If nothing else, he would agree to
all concessions, make and receive payment, and then obliterate this
pompous 'targ', if he had to destroy a planet from beneath his feet
to do it.

"I, lord Tromok, am a ruler without an empire of my own.
They say 'a king, less his kingdom rules an imbecile.'" His
countenance grew suddenly cold as he forced himself to remember
his past and likewise prepare for the revelation that he would
now bestow upon the Klingon Emperor. "I had recently launched a
campaign against the Federation, the very first stage mind you,
only to have it thwarted by a man I would rather have fought beside
than against." His own anger began to emerge as he spoke of his
past. "I am hardly finished with Starfleet, but there is an old
Klingon proverb that seems to be quite appropriate: 'If you cannot
lead your own camp... lead your enemy's'." He stopped for a moment
to see if his meaning was comprehended.

The Emperor barely heard the words spoken to him. "If you
have mentioned your demand, I have not heard it," he said darkly.

"My price is the Klingon Empire!"

"Then you do rule an imbecile," the Emperor spat hotly. "I am
supreme here, and you... you are merely an inconvenience." Tromok
restrained himself from reaching for his dagger. "You are mad if
you think you could wrest my throne from me. And if you intend to
kill me to get it, you are welcome to try. My ships will destroy
you, and many more are on the way." He looked at the weapon now
aimed at him. "As hostage I am no good to you either. My men
will follow my orders and consider me dead. My brother will of
course, inherit my title. The end result will be the same for
you... death."


PAGE 55








"There are more ways to gain the Empire than you have named,
and that is my riddle. Nevertheless, even that is not my final
goal." He slowly raised himself from the chair, eyes and weapon
never wavering. "You still do not know with whom you are dealing."

"Not for lack of effort, though I am sure it is a strain for
one so boastful, to keep it a secret as long as you have."

The Host chuckled briefly at that. "I did not know the
Klingon Emperor had a sense of humor," he said with a smile.
"Do you also have a sense of irony?" he posed.

The Emperor said nothing. He wished to stall but never to
play the fool.

"No answer?" he asked, holstering his weapon and leaning
towards the Emperor with both hands on the table. "Then let me
explain myself with a brief tale." His smile faded.

"Years ago... no," he started again. "A lifetime ago, there
was a brave Starship Captain. The first Starship Captain." It
seemed painful for him to speak but he continued. "Long before
we had the Neutral Zone, Organian Peace Treaties or cloaking
devices to complicate life, this lone Captain and a hand-picked
crew set out in their new Starship on a brave mission: The
Exploration of Space. It was given to him to extend the hand of
friendship to other spacefaring races and invite them to take
their place of honor in a United Federation of Planets."

"With nothing but a faithful crew and the shining Prime
Directive, this Captain guided his noble vessel farther than any
ship in the Federation had ever ventured. After weeks of
exploration in this distant part of the galaxy, the Captain
encountered, for the first time since the Hundred Years War, a
race of beings who were as proficient in their technology as they
were in their ruthlessness." His eyes narrowed as they penetrated
the Emperor. "But now I am getting ahead of myself," he
interrupted, then continued the tale.

"The Starship first had made contact with intelligent life on
a planet not far from where we are now. The Captain spent weeks in

peaceful negotiations and in the exchange of cultural information
with the new-found alien friends who called themselves the Bak'i.
When it became time to depart from the planet, the Captain bid them
farewell and began his return to the Earth, with a promising new
addition to the Federation."

"However, while the Starship was leaving, they detected three
spacecraft approaching their new friend's solar system. Motivated
by curiosity, the Starship turned around, back to the world they
had just visited. Upon arrival, they found that the entire surface
of the planet had been laid waste. Not one Bak'i had survived
the terrible holocaust. Three armed warships had made short work
of their entire world."

"When the Captain of the Starship attempted to hail the three

PAGE 56








invading warships, in order to understand the action that had been
taken, the warships opened fire. They were Klingon warships."

The Emperor's face seemed to hint of recognition of the story,
from a memory long forgotten, or perhaps one he wished had been so.

"It was a time when our shields had been stronger than our
weapons. The battle raged for hours, particle-static beams and
focused radiation, inflicting more damage on men than on machinery.
The Captain was on the verge of hopelessness, when he managed to
destroy one of the Klingon warships." The Host erected himself. His
countenance became cold in remembrance of the lives lost afterward
by slow radiation poisoning, during the long dark voyage home.

"With one ship lost to the void, and no outward sign of damage
to the Federation Starship, the second Klingon vessel turned tail
and fled. The odds were then even.

"Yes," the Emperor whispered, transfixed by his own images of
the long ago battle. Though seeing it from another perspective
than that of his enemy.

"Again the ships clashed, until the Federation ship's weaponry
became useless, drained of energy and damaged beyond any hope of
repair. The Captain ordered all power to his foreword shields,
said a prayer, and began one final charge at his opponent. The
Starfleet Captain expected to die in the collision of the two
ships, but before the impact could be consummated, the ship from
the Empire gave her ground and took flight to parts unknown." He
folded his arms across his chest. "But not unknown to you,
Emperor Tromok," he spoke in anger. "Do you still remember the
words spoken from your own boastful lips, when the Starfleet
Captain attempted to explain his peaceful intentions?" He let his
guest search his memory for a moment. "Do you recall the vow I
made to you, as you ordered your ship's retreat?"

"You?" Tromok said in astonishment.

"Then, you were merely the eldest 'son' of the Emperor of
Klinzhai, now the Empire is yours, and I will finally make good
on my vow." A cold smile slowly crept upon his lips, from the
corners of his mouth. "Do you remember me now, Emperor of
Klinzhai?"

"I remember," he rumbled and slowly rose to his feet. "I had
not known defeat but for you." His voice became a growl, his
muscles tensed, "You are the secret shame I have kept hidden, even
from myself, for these many years."

The man reproduced his weapon, leisurely but with purpose. He
slowly aimed it at the Klingon. "Then my name still has meaning in
the Klingon Empire?" Strangely, the man lowered the weapon and
placed it on the long table before him, as if to challenge the
Klingon. "I told you that you would fear the day when next our
swords would cross, that you would ever fear the name of Garth of
Izar!"

PAGE 57








With a roar from the depths of his soul, the Emperor toppled
the long heavy table on to its side, sending Garth's phaser
clattering across the floor. Deciding in an instant that the
weapon was too far to reach, the Emperor threw himself the distance
between his enemy and himself. He hit Garth in his midsection,
like a projectile, taking him to the floor.

Garth was at the ready when the Emperor lunged at him and
rolled with the momentum and mass thrust upon him, tossing the
Klingon off and into the wall behind him. Garth was to his feet
first but allowed his guest to also rise, savoring the
confrontation he had long awaited, not desiring too soon an end to
it.

"It is good to see the Emperor is still a warrior," Garth
said, paying tribute to his foe.

"To the death," Tromok said as he lifted his bulk off the
polished deck.

"Not so, your Majesty," he said mockingly. "I do not intend
to kill you, and I am certain that you shall not kill me." Garth
squared himself off from his opponent, now ready to continue the
battle.

The Emperor feigned left, then right and jabbed quickly with
his left fist, connecting only with air. Garth dodged the second
blow as well, and responded with a hard chop to the Emperor's neck,
bringing him to his knees. The Klingon, partly dazed by the chop
that would have knocked an ordinary man out, looked up at Garth in
rage. Tromok pondered to himself for a moment why his enemy took
no advantage at a downed foe. He lifted himself again, growling
like an animal gone mad.

Garth moved first, with a punch to the Emperor's heavy jaw,
then one to his stomach, when, with remarkable speed, the Emperor
caught Garth's wrist and placed a strong hand to his throat. The
Emperor slowly, powerfully, squeezed his enemy's neck with a
wolfish grin, and drew Garth close. "Now, you are mine!" he
whispered.

Garth grabbed the hand at his throat and centimeter by
centimeter, pulled it away, his muscles straining against Emperor
Tromok's for control. Both with feet firmly planted on the deck,
the struggle became one of brute force. 'Victory to the strong',
as a Klingon would say.

They stood face to face. Both red with the exertion of their
strength, neither giving in. One force irresistible, the other
immovable and both committed to the defeat of the other.

"You will lose!" said the Klingon Emperor through clenched
teeth.

"Not at your hand," promised Garth.


PAGE 58








The seconds that they spent in battle were years of desired
revenge nearing fulfillment. Neither would admit the thought of
defeat into their minds, though clearly, only one would stand when
they were done.

"Now," Garth strained, "the tide turns." And with his final
effort, he forced Emperor Mocdar Jek Tromok to his physical limit,
then pulled him with all that was in him. The might of the Klingon
was used against himself as Garth yanked backwards with all his
strength, fairly throwing the Emperor against the bulkhead, a full
fifteen feet behind him.

The Klingonese monarch sank to the floor unconscious, as Garth
slowly walked towards his downed enemy, gulping breaths as he came.
He kneeled beside this fallen warrior, and pressed two fingers
against the Emperor's pulmonary artery to be sure he still lived.
Satisfied, he rose, gathered his phaser and depressed a button on
his belt.

The only doors to the room parted and the Andorian, carrying a
medical bag, entered through them.

"Revive him," commanded Garth, "And place the stasis cuffs on
him or he may accidentally kill you as he regains his wits."

"Yes, lord Garth," the blue man replied. He reached into his
medical bag and produced a Doctor's spray hypo. He placed a small
yellow canister into the instrument, set the dosage to 20
milliliters, and injected the substance into the Klingon's neck.
Grasping both wrists, the acting physician placed the energy bonds
around them as the Emperor's eyes began to flutter.

The Emperor, not feeling at all well, opened his eyes for a
moment, then realizing that they were not focusing, blinked several
times to clear them. Immediately he became aware of his
surroundings and of the fact that he was temporarily immobilized.
He looked up to see the man standing across the room from him, to
his astonishment. Tromok closed his eyes again at the man he saw.
'Surely,' he thought, 'my mind plays tricks!' He opened them once
again and saw that the vision had not changed. Directly across
from him, standing majestically in royal robes, was the Emperor
of all Klinzhai.

The vision smiled. "You see," Garth said in the voice of the
Klingon monarch, "I never had the need to strike any bargain, never
needed anything from you, but 'you'."

"You can not do this!" spoke the Emperor, almost breaking before
his enemy, as his heart sank, for he knew that if there was anyone in
the universe who could wrest the Empire from him, it was this man.
The man that wore his face.

"It is already done!" boasted Garth. "But be of good cheer,
for I am not finished with you nor the galaxy yet!" He strode over
to his double. "You see," he spoke, kneeling beside the former
Emperor, "there is something I know about the Organian Peace Treaty

PAGE 59








that neither you nor my Federation seem to be aware of." He smiled
a dangerous smile. "But that is another riddle," he said. Rising
from Tromok and turning towards the exit, he began to laugh. He
left the room, his laughter echoing down the corridors, silenced
only when the doors shut behind him.




















































PAGE 60



*** TEN ***



The white streak that was Enterprise blazed like a stray bolt
of lightning through the vacuum of space. She was on a heading
that would bring her into a still-disputed area of the galaxy. The
Federation claimed it. The Klingon Empire claimed it, but the
Organians controlled it and named it the Neutral Zone. Hence,
ownership of any tract of space or any planet within that region
must be acquired by peaceful, productive occupation. This was in
accordance with the treaty signed by both claimants. Violent
aggression by either party was forbidden, and would, by the self-
appointed arbitrators / enforcers, be stopped.

Since the initiation of the treaty, both camps had made
attempts to stretch the limits of the contract, to no effect. The
Treaty was ironclad. Adherence to it was not an option. In
addition, it was agreed that Organia, as a planet and a people, was
to be left alone... until now.

James T. Kirk occupied the center seat. He waited for the
inevitable. The weight of the Captaincy was never heavier on his
shoulders than at this moment. His orders to approach the planet
in the solar-system ahead of him was a violation of Treaty. His
orders to set his ship for self-destruct was a violation of his
conscience. And yet he still waited for the inevitable.

The meeting Jim had called in sickbay with McCoy and Spock
was an exercise in futility. The danger still roamed his ship. To
attempt to incapacitate the Grensk android would be difficult even
if it was not conducive to exploding. The android had far superior
strength to that of even a Vulcan. Every plan that they discussed
or formulated put all aboard in jeopardy. To leave Grensk to his
own devices placed the ship in no less a perilous position, but it
did give them a timeframe within which to work. They used to call
his predicament a 'catch twenty-two, Jim recalled.

Jim looked at the chronometer in the arm of his chair. "Mr.
Sulu, shouldn't we be reaching the system perimeter soon?"

"Aye, Sir, coming up on it in about eight minutes." Sulu spoke
calmly.

"Prepare to power down to impulse, point 9, in about eight
min..." Jim shut his mouth and grabbed both sides of his chair. He
could feel something vibrating subtly for just a moment. It
stopped. He sat still to see if it would happen again. Then the
whole ship began to shudder violently.

Jim hit his comm button. "Kirk to Engineering, Scotty,
what's the problem?" he asked urgently. The shudder became more
pronounced. "Mr. Scott!" No answer. Spock quickly moved over to
the engineer's console.

"Captain," Spock announced, "the port nacelle is beginning to

PAGE 61








buckle, all readings are peaking in the red."

"Sulu!" Jim started, but before he could finish his sentence,
the ship pitched to port, and the Enterprise began to maneuver in
an irregular, large spiral, her inertia dampeners and starboard
engine began to whine.

Holding onto the corner of the console, the helmsman tried to
reach for the controls, fighting like the rest of the crew against
the powerful centrifugal force. Straining, he managed to get a
finger on the correct button, and pressed the emergency shut-off
switch. The starboard engine went silent and Sulu was able to
engage braking thrusters.

"All stop, Sulu." Perspiration beaded on the Captain's
forehead.

"Slowing, Sir," spoke Sulu, equally sweaty.

Uhura turned from her station. "Captain, damage control is
reporting a fire in engineering, and something about an explosion!"

Jim punched the communication button again, "Kirk to
Engineering," static was all he received. "Engineering, report!"

"Hanson here," the din of extinguishers, and the crackle of
electricity obscured his voice.

"Mr. Hanson, report Engineering's status."

"We've had an explosion in the Jeffries Tube. Commander
Scott is being taken to sickbay on antigravs. Fire's almost out
but it looks bad down here."

"How bad, Mr. Hanson?"

"We won't be able to make repairs on outboard number one
without dry-docking. I believe if we tried to engage it again,
she'd blow in a matter of seconds, Sir."

"Is there damage to the nacelle's main reactor?" he asked.

"As far as I can determine, it's intact. We did lose the
Starboard engine's fail-safe though. The automatic power shutdown
to the engine was damaged in the feedback explosion."

"We noticed." Jim swiveled his chair to the engineering
station, manned by Spock, who was inspecting the console. Spock
nodded to the Captain, in confirmation to what Lieutenant Hanson
reported. "Do what you can down there and keep me posted. We may
need at least warp 3 in two hours."

"Aye, Sir. Hanson out."

"Mr. Spock," Jim rose from his chair. "You have the con.
I'll be in sickbay. Mr. Sulu, resume course for Organia, impulse,

PAGE 62








point 9 warp."

"Aye, Sir. Course locked in. Engaging now."



* * *



Sickbay was lined up with no small number of crewmen suffering
from minor abrasions to motion sickness. Nurses Evans and Downey
distributed medicines and applied antiseptics with the deftness
that earned them the privilege of their tour on the Enterprise.

The doors to sickbay parted and in stepped the gold and black
clad Captain, followed by Dr. M'Benga, who did not seem to be in
good humor.

"Not the best way to wake up, being thrown from my bed,
Captain," spoke the doctor as Jim turned the corner, oblivious to
the comment, lost in his own thoughts.

The beds were mercifully empty, save one, on which Jim saw his
unconscious Chief Engineer, with McCoy attending him.

"How is he, Bones?" Jim concernedly asked.

"I'll know as soon as I get this blasted shirt off him." He
put his medi-scanner down on the tray next to him. "Nurse
Chappell, will you hurry with that molecular separator!" He then
loaded his hypo and injected a pink liquid into his patient.

Jim went to the bedside and beheld the blackened arm of
Commander Montgomery Scott. Though he had several facial
lacerations, and bruises, his arm was by far the most serious. His
uniform had melted and fused itself to his right arm and his hand
looked like a badly toasted marshmallow. He could tell from the
readings on the bed's monitor that his whole body had suffered some
kind of trauma, probably a near-fatal jolt from the overload.

Nurse Christine Chappell returned to McCoy with the requested
instrument. The doctor checked the setting and wasted no time in
putting it to use, after switching on the bed's sterilization
field, a reflex action.

The Captain watched as the uniform fairly unraveled at the
touch of the instrument, losing its molecular cohesiveness. The
dust that was once a sleeve, was ionically drawn to the receptors
at the head and foot of the bed. What it revealed was not pleasant
to look at. Scott's last two fingers were clearly broken, and his
middle finger was completely gone.

"My God, Jim, what was he into?" spoke the doctor, not taking
his eyes off his task. "It looks like he's had his hand up a
thruster."

PAGE 63









"Security to the shuttle bay," came the First Officer's voice
over the main speakers. "Repeat, security to the shuttle bay."

Jim rushed over to the comm box and punched the sender. "Mr.
Spock, what's the trouble?" he asked, already projecting the
answer.

"Uncertain Captain, we received a condition red alert from
shuttle control, however, no one is responding to," his voice broke
off. "One moment Captain." Jim heard Sulu's voice in the
background but could not hear his words. "Captain, the tractor
beam has been disabled. It is most probable that,"

"Sabotage, I know Spock," Jim cut in. "Meet me in shuttle bay
with two phasers. Needle beam setting," he said, swiftly trying to
think ahead of the situation. "Belay that, Mr. Spock. Have Sulu
try to keep the Shuttle Bay doors closed, and meet me in the
transporter room!"

Spock paused in thought, for a split second, then, replied.
"Captain, I believe I understand your line of reasoning, but I fail
to see its effectiveness."

Kirk rolled his eyes up in his lids and sighed.

"In the least, it will avail nothing. But in the worst case
it could," Spock continued.

"Now Spock, that's an order!" Jim said, only slightly
irritated. He was very used to His First Officer's willingness to
offer more information than was often desired.

"Aye, Sir, Spock out."

Jim punched the sender switch again and the speaker went dead.
He looked over his shoulder as he made for the exit. "Take care of
him Bones, he's the only Chief Engineer I have." Then he exited
sickbay.

Dashing down the crowded corridor, he reached the turbo-lift.
He heard the familiar voice of the computer, announcing the ship's
destruction in 2 hours, just as the doors closed behind him. "Deck
7," Jim instructed the computer-controlled lift.



* * *



Lieutenant Kyle was listening to the intra-ship
communications, trying to determine the reason he had been thrown
to the floor and bounced around the room, a few minutes ago. He
leaned over the transporter controls, one hand supporting his chin,
the other, flattening down the back of his sandy colored hair. The

PAGE 64








entry door slid open to admit the Captain.

"Captain!" spoke Kyle, snapping immediately to attention.

"At ease, Mr. Kyle." Jim walked over to the controls, and
rubbed his hands together. "Is everything in its usual working
order?" Jim asked, assuming it was, since no mention of it was on
the damage report.

"Yes, Sir, I just finished the level 1 diag's a minute ago.
No damage was detected." He spoke with his usual English accent.

"When was it last tuned?"

"Just this morning, Sir. At the end of last shift. Saw em do
it myself as I was coming on duty."

"Very good, Lieutenant," he said, setting the board for
manual location-sensor lock and overriding the safety features. The
door slid open again, this time admitting the expected Mr. Spock,
who quickly moved to the controls beside Jim.

The overhead speaker came to life, "Sulu to transporter room.
Mr. Kyle, is Captain Kirk there yet?"

Kyle looked at the captain, who indicated that he himself
would respond. "I'm here Sulu, what is it?"

"Captain, Security reports that all guards and personnel
stationed in the shuttle bay, have been phaser-stunned. And, Sir,
Gallileo 2 is attempting to debark."

"Are the bay doors still closed?"

"My console says they are, but Security says," Sulu, being
in contact with both the Captain and Security, had to speak to one
party, while listening to the other. "Security reports the doors
are opening!" The ship beneath them rumbled and vibrated as if she
had run aground. "Captain, we have explosive decompression in the
shuttle bay!"

"Is everyone out of there?" asked the Captain with urgency.

There was a pause of dead air space, then, "Security has them
all in the airlock, Sir. No casualties to report other than that
of the men being stunned," reported Sulu, then added, "Shuttle
craft is launching now."

"Thank you, Mr. Sulu. Pursue shuttle craft and find out
if the tractor beam can be repaired soon and get those bay doors
closed," Jim said, reverting to a calmer tone for Sulu's sake, only
a little relieved at what he heard. "Kirk out." Jim turned to
Spock, "Our Mr. Grensk has been busy."

"It would seem," Spock commented with a nod. "Captain, if I
may." Jim sighed and indicated to Spock that 'he may'. "I do not

PAGE 65








see the logic in using the transporter to stop Lieutenant Grensk,
considering the way the transporters react when in contact with the
explosive. It seems equally futile to have ourselves transported
to the shuttle. Grensk's mechanical strength would be more than
sufficient to stop us." Jim knew Spock's line of reasoning was 'off
track' with the Captain's intentions, but out of respect for his
'Number One', he heard him out. "Logic suggests that we use our
weapons against the shuttle either to disable or destroy it, before
it is able to near the planet Organia. This would put ourselves at
grave risk, but will prevent the destruction of a planet."

"Spock," Jim placed his hand on his friend's shoulder, "trust
me. I have a plan, and while we execute it, I'll show you why a
humble Starship Captain can beat his logical Vulcan First Officer
consistently at chess." Jim moved aside. "Man the console," he
said to Spock. Then looked to the Lieutenant standing away from
his post. "Mr. Kyle?"

"Yes, Sir?" he felt entirely left out of the conversation and
was not just a little surprised by it.

"What you are going to see is classified, dangerous and
possibly a court-martial offense. So unless it goes before a board
of inquiry, mum's the word."

"Mum, Sir?", he asked, genuinely confused.

"Not a word," Kirk placed his index finger to his lips.

"Aye, Sir."

"Spock, are you able to scan the shuttle?" Jim asked.

"There was some interference, but I now have a positive sensor
lock on the craft itself," he said while adjusting controls. "You
mentioned Chess, Captain?"

Jim restrained the look of amusement that he was inclined to
facially display at the Vulcan's obvious curiosity. A quality that
Jim enjoyed seeing in his friend. "Sometimes, the passion for
winning, or the threat of losing, can be a 'well' of inspiration,
Mr. Spock. Such is the urgency of this situation. Lock
geographic sensors onto the explosive in Grensk's chest." He
observed Spock's operation of the equipment, confident that his
precision was equal to the task.

"Nothing personal, Spock, but logic can even hinder the
process that motivates, that drives us to decisions that must be
made. Deep concern about the cost of failure is another driving
factor."

"Secondary lock confirmed," he said, glancing up to Jim with
an inquisitive look. "Passion hardly seems a formidable strategy
in a mathematically logical game such as Chess. The end result
would seem to be chaos, rather than 'Check Mate'," he stated
matter-of-factly, in defense of his Vulcan heritage and their

PAGE 66








standing philosophy.

"Sulu, to Captain Kirk. Sir, more bad news. All sub-space
broadcasting equipment has been damaged beyond repair and estimates
on tractor beam repair is 5 hours."

Jim pressed the communications switch and responded, "Mr.
Sulu, I'm not surprised. Continue Impulse pursuit. Kirk out."
Then to Spock, "Locate the upper perimeter of the explosive, plus
10 centimeters." Spock raised an eyebrow, hinting of his
understanding at what the Captain had planned.

"You are correct in your comment comparing it to 'chaos' Mr.
Spock, as that can often be the result. But it is the balance
between the two: emotion used reasonably. We also have faith that
the unproven or the untried, can be accomplished, though we have no
evidence of it until it is tried. This 'faith' is the greatest
evidence I know of, that separates us from the animals, Spock, for
unlike them, we can believe in something that our 5 senses or
previous experience cannot corroborate or conclusively prove."

"Upper boundary from the Lieutenant's chest cavity, located
and confirmed," spoke Spock, still continuing the difficult
operation, while pondering his captain's insight.

"Lock transporter beam terminator to those coordinates."

"Transporter beam locked."

Jim took a deep breath. "Mr. Spock, energize!"

With controls in hand, Spock slowly moved the matter gain
levers forward. Pad 'A' started to shimmer and the outline of
something began to form. Then the base of the platform exploded
with a loud 'crack'.

"Cross circuit to 'B', Mr. Spock," spoke Mr. Kyle, as he
shielded his eyes from the blast.

Spock's hands worked to bypass the channel with a simplistic
ease that moved Lt. Kyle to envy. No stress could be seen in him,
every movement exactingly correct. Pad 'B' began to glow, in the
now, smoky room. "I am reducing termination boundary by 5
centimeters," he said above the hum of the machinery.

This time the shimmering on the pad began to solidify, and the
disembodied head of Lieutenant Grensk, began to take shape, less
than 2 meters above the platform. As more mass was added, the head
slowly descended to the deck and came to rest, eyes open and mouth
forming words without voice.

"Check-and-mate, Mr. Spock," said the Captain, as he went to
the platform and stooped to pick up the remains of the android.

Lt. Kyle stood speechless at what he had just witnessed. He
appeared to be an unwitting accomplice to murder. Jim looked over

PAGE 67








his shoulder at the lieutenant and realized it might be wise to
explain. Just a little.

"It's OK, Mr. Kyle, that is an android, not a human. I don't
think this qualifies as murder."

"A-aye, Sir," he said, blinking his eyes and fighting his
initial shock.

"The shuttle is starting to drift off course, Captain," Spock
said, looking at the equipment. "I am curious, sir, as to how you
came to suspect the Grensk android from the beginning?"

"As you did, you mean?" James said, sharing the credit. "It
seemed odd to me, simply the way he looked at me. They say that
the eyes are the windows to the soul. Perhaps it was his lack of
soul, that was the tip-off." He looked at Spock and could tell
that the Vulcan was not buying it. In the past, they both had been
deceived by androids who had as much soul as Grensk. "Alright,
maybe when they removed the parts of his internal workings in his
chest to make room for the explosive, they damaged the circuit that
allowed him to blink his eyes normally. In the conference room, I
noticed that he seemed to be a bit sluggish in the 'eye batting'
department."

"That could explain it," Spock conceded. "With your
permission, it seems appropriate for one of us to retrieve the
shuttle and Lieutenant Grensk's body. I volunteer."

"Agreed, Mr. Spock. I'll have a security team with antigravs,
meet you upon your return. Be careful," he stressed the last.

"Mr. Kyle, you may return to your post and energize when
ready," stated Spock as he made for the platform.

"Aye, Sir." The Lieutenant reset the console and quickly but
carefully set them for the First Officer's destination.

"Captain?" Spock stated rather than questioned.

"Yes, Spock?" Jim stepped back from the transporter, cradling
the heavy android head in his arms.

"I will consider your 'chess' strategy."

"Ready to transport Mr. Spock," came Kyle.

"Energize," Spock said with his arms behind his back in a
formal stance, and with that he began to shimmer and disappear.








PAGE 68



*** ELEVEN ****



The new Emperor stood facing the vast expanse of space
stretching forth from his window, to perhaps infinity. He allowed
himself the luxury of a few moments alone to relax before he faced
the Klingon Fleet commanders and revealed his plans for them to
carry out. Though his authority was absolute in his empire, there
would undoubtedly be questions toward his mental health if he
proceeded on his intended course without sharing some details of
his grand design with them.

His gaze shifted from the ominous void, to the mighty Klingon
armada coming into view. The smile of the wolf crossed his face as
he saw the awesome might of the Klingon Empire bending to his every
wish. He mused in reflection of the ease with which he acquired
his throne and the power thereof. The Old Emperor, now imprisoned
within the bowels of the Federation ship, was still a vital link in
the chain of events that this New Emperor had set in motion. The
real Tromok was an ace in the hole, to be used if Garth's charade
was detected. But Garth had no great fear of this.

Garth had devoted many hours to the mastery of Klingonese.
The subtle grunts and guttural intonations, the syntax and
colloquialisms, even the gesticulations accompanying some of the
ancient words. And of course, the Emperor's voice was merely a
physical alteration. But Garth was no fool. Little to nothing was
known of the Emperor of Klinzhai within the confines of the
Federation. Garth tried to distance himself from anyone close to
the Emperor who would be able to detect the discrepancies in the
Emperor's own mannerisms and personality. He would not have to
encounter any members of the High Council. Tromok had seen to that
by leaving them all behind on their Mother World. However, there
were Military Men close at hand who would know him well. Admiral
Sorr was not the least of them.

The explosive of Garth's own ingenious creation, was still on-
board the ship that he had entered the Neutral Zone in. He
conceived of the formula for the destructive substance while
imprisoned on the distant, now nonexistent, planet Elba II. Once
he had developed the formula, the actual creation of the fulminant
crystals was hardly a burdensome matter. Elba II, for all it's
intended purposes, was just a scientific research station with
bars. All the components of the explosive were in-store, easily
appropriated and utilized, giving him the power to reshape the
universe. Yes, there was a time of setback. He had failed, but
only in his inability to enlighten the Starship captain 'Kirk', to
his superior lordship. He and Kirk were of a kind. As Garth would
bow to no other's rule, Kirk would not submit to his. It was much
later that Garth realized how Captain Kirk had unwittingly saved
his life when he prevented Garth from transporting up to the
Enterprise with the weapon in hand. It was later that Garth had
realized the explosive could not be beamed at all. But that was
behind him.


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Garth of Izar had proven victorious and escaped his place of
exile. He recalled the perfect execution of his scheme to steal
the cargo ship while it was transferring equipment, via jump-ship,
down to the surface of Elba II. 'The fool Cory', Garth thought.
The drug that was used to 'cure' Garth of his 'alleged' insanity
was obviously not tested for duration. It had returned him to his
former 'weakling' self, for a time. But the 'Garth' that was
strong, was too much a part of him to be suppressed for long,
though it had seemed to change him somewhat. He could think
clearer now. Once he had permanently disposed of Cory he was able
to assume, again, the guise of the Governor of the colony. Then it
was simplicity itself, to take the orbiting ship and charge to the
Neutral Zone. The captain of the cargo ship 'Fringe Ranger' had
not been much of a challenge. Though he did manage to send out a
distress signal before Garth was able to capture it, it availed him
nothing. Proud Garth satisfied himself with these thoughts, and
turned his attention to the future.

A chime sounded in the Emperor's chamber, indicating that
someone requested entry. Garth turned from the observation window
and furrowed his brow.

"Enter!" he commanded, quite accustomed to giving orders.

The door slid upward, disappearing into the top of the frame.
Commander Kang stood at the entrance, flanked on both sides by the
Emperor's guard. He entered the large room, followed by the black
clad warriors.

"I ordered no disturbances!" the Emperor boomed, taking note
that the man before him was of Commander grade, but not recognizing
him. "State the reason for your intrusion," ordered the Emperor.

The expression on Kang's face changed from wooden, to one of
puzzlement. It was always mandatory for a Flag Officer to report
to the highest superior possible, after a military defeat. Emperor
Tromok had always taken great pleasure, whenever available, in
dealing personally, with 'inferior Klingons', as he called them.

"My lord, I await your decision," Kang voiced levelly, though
at the ready to plea for the life of his wife and that of his crew.

Taken aback, momentarily at a loss as to exactly what decision
the officer might require, Garth finally recognized the voice, and
placed it with the name of Kang. Though they had spoken to one
another before, it had not been a visual communication. Pretending
to contemplate his 'decision', Garth tried to remember the details
of the intercepted transmission the former Emperor had with the
Commander. It came to him that Tromok had already decided in favor
of Kang, so what was this, he wondered. Reward? Promotion? Garth
suddenly wished he knew more about the Klingonese customs, and
specifically the Emperor's habit's. Finally he spoke, not wanting
his hesitation to cause suspicion. "Leave us," he commanded his
guards.


Kang heard the door slide home, still facing his Emperor and

PAGE 70








wondering. Something was different about him. He seemed, to Kang,
not to have recognized him.

"What would you have me say?" the Emperor, playing it safe,
interrupted Kang's thoughts with the question.

The swarthy Commander eyed his Emperor for a moment. He had
never known the ruler of the Klingon Realm to be slow in executing
judgement, and least of all to have the accused determine the
punishment. Was this a test of sorts, or was Emperor Tromok merely
baiting him for his own pleasure? The answer to these, he did not
know. But if it was a game to humiliate him, Kang decided he would
not play. He looked straight ahead, standing at full attention.
"Say what you will, my lord."

The Emperor turned toward the Commander. To Kang's surprise a
partial smile adorned the Emperor's face. "This day I have
acquired more power than anyone before me has imagined attaining.
I hold the might to claim the galaxy, and you have played a
prominent role in bringing this into being." He placed a hand to
his chin. "In reward for such a feat, you have the gratitude of
the Klingon People and myself. I give you command of the ship and
crew of your choice and send you home on furlough, to give the
Council personal word of my victory."

Kang remained dispassionate at the Emperor's speech. He did
not want to give expression to the feeling he had about the man
before him. "My lord is most generous," is all he allowed himself
to say.

"I can afford generosity, Commander, what ship shall it be?"
he asked, wanting to be rid of Kang before any more surprises
occurred.

"I will keep my own ship if you please, and my crew is the
finest in all the realm, my lord." His pride in his comrades shone
through his stoic exterior. But the foremost thought in his mind
was the sensation that he had never met this man before. Could the
enemy invader have done something to the Emperor? Is this man the
Emperor? It did not seem to Kang that this was the one that he
knew.

"Then I give you your leave, and after the Command Assembly,
your leave to go home." With a curt nod of his head, he dismissed
the Commander.

Kang bowed to the image of his Emperor but before turning to
go, he needed to know for certain. Not for himself, but for the
sake of the Empire. This might be his only chance to be sure, of
the one who occupies the throne of Klinzhai. "Shall I also inform
Chamberlain Jekrrez of your plans, my lord?"

Garth looked deep into the eyes of the Commander, trying to
read anything that might help him with the answer. 'This one is
sharp. He suspects my deception,' thought he to himself, 'But how?
And to what degree?' Garth had to respond to the obviously loaded

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question. "You will tell ALL COUNCIL MEMBERS! IS THAT CLEAR?" He
let himself vent his anger and frustration. After all, he was
questioning the Emperor of the Realm.

Kang bowed again, "Yes, lord Tromok.", he said, but carefully
and deliberately not, 'My lord'. The Commander left the room. He
could not hear the scream of rage that burst forth from the
Emperor, as the thick door closed behind him. But he did know,
with a surety now, that the man who ruled the Empire was not Mocdar
Jek Tromok.

Behind the thick doors, Garth reached a state of composure.
He consoled himself with the knowledge that regardless of Kang's
suspicion, Garth would soon be rid of him and free to fulfill his
glorious destiny.

He moved to his desk and sat behind it, resting in the solid
comfortable chair. Pressing a button on the desk, he sealed the
door from intruders and allowed his physically altered body to
revert back to it's original form. The strain of maintaining the
shape of another was not easy to bear. Garth had told his
incarcerator, Cory, that he had learned cellular metamorphosis from
the Antosians. Not quite the truth, he mused.

When the people of Antos IV found his broken and burned body,
they did their best to patch him together. It was not good enough.
His condition rapidly worsened. With his death imminent, and his
ship unable to locate him, it was decided by the Doctor whose care
he was in to share a coveted secret of their race.

The Antosians had an organ within them which allowed them to
control their own cellular arrangement and influence complex
molecules within a few centimeters of their epidermis. The tiny
organ called a 'Dunia', located behind the heart, was directly
connected to the spinal column, and from there, the brain. Before
the Antosians learned that they could control the operation of this
organ, it naturally caused their body to be able to regenerate
damaged tissue, much like certain lizards being able to regenerate
their tails. This gave them increased longevity and with time,
complete control over their entire physical structure, without
altering mental patterns within the brain in the least.

The attending Doctor concluded that if they were to save
Captain Garth, he would need the organ, too. The organ had been
cloned for him, grown in a hyper-progression chamber and placed
within the dying Captain. Without conscious will on Garth's part,
the organ began it's intended task of cellular reconstruction
immediately. Within three days, he was physically whole again. In
time Garth learned to manipulate the organ's operation, first, to
alter his facial features, later, the rest of his body. Lastly he
learned to exude and control the aggressive endoplasmic variance
agents that could alter exterior molecules such as his clothing.

His body was again healthy, but the Antosians could do
nothing about his growing madness. The pain he had endured as he
lay dying drove sanity from his grasp. After he had mastered

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metamorphosis, he turned violently on the Antosians. They would
not follow his plans of conquest and galactic war, so he sought to
destroy them. His plan was thwarted by his own crew and he was
dispatched to the last colony for the incurably insane. Like
Napoleon, Garth was exiled to his Elba, and returned from thence,
to make war and to conquer.

Garth, pulled his chair forward to more easily use the
Emperor's computer console. He entered several commands into the
terminal, but to no avail. The password protected files he
requested remained beyond his reach. His second recourse was to
merely find out exactly what files were not password protected and
glean the information he needed from them. He scanned several
pages of file listings in the memory banks until he located what he
desired.

The common library, with it's wealth of information,
held vast amounts of data on every conceivable subject. It was a
difficult task, to keep from straying from his purpose. Suddenly
he found what he was looking for in the history section. He
commanded the machine to search for the most current references to
the title of Chamberlain. After only a nano-second, his screen was
filled with the names and accomplishments of the Klingonese High
Council members. He quickly scanned the names of the current
members but found no Jekrrez among them. He then paged through the
list of former council members until he found what he sought after.
It read:

Record Number 7-18:8.55-14-4-4-5
Jekrrez, Holzah - Found guilty of treason and executed
678193 - 678341 by command of his Imperial Highness,
Emperor Mocdar Jek Tromok [678241.1]

Anger swept Garth's soul, as he realized that Kang now
possessed knowledge which could jeopardize his newly acquired
throne. He smashed his fist onto the computer controls, crushing
the terminal, making it useless. He watched the smoke rise from
the console and sat back in his chair. 'At least', he reflected,
'there are ways to deal with insurrection, before the fact.' He
soothed his temper with that in mind and plotted to rid himself of
this thorn.



* * *



At the heart of the Imperial Throneship Thunder, protected by
energy barriers and thick blast-proof walls, was the war council
chamber. Although seating one-hundred and one, it was nearly
filled. The senior officers of each Klingon Warship in the
immediate vicinity, were in attendance before the Emperor's mighty
seat of power. They were joined by three Romulans of command
grade who had been late in arriving. The Emperor's elite Ramjep
Avwi were guarding all exits and four of them stood behind the

PAGE 73








Emperor's chair, facing the congregation.

The briefing of previous events, conducted by Admiral Sorr,
had just been completed. Now all in attendance awaited Emperor
Tromok's arrival to the chamber. Murmurs of the great power, now in
their control, resounded throughout the spacious room. They were
silenced as Admiral Sorr seated himself in front with the other
Admirals, Captains and Commanders. The Midnight Guard moved from
their parade-rest stance, to attention, as Emperor Mocdar Jek
Tromok entered the room with a recorded orchestra flourish
proceeding him.

The fleet commanders rose from their seats and saluted in
unison, while their monarch established himself in his lone chair.
Facing them, he motioned his approval for the company to reseat
themselves. Silence again, had reign over the room as his Imperial
Highness looked over the many faces that sat before him.

The Emperor placed both hands on the armrests of his chair,
gripping them tightly. "Who among you can deliver me a galaxy?" he
asked calmly in his deep bass voice. The company looked to each
other in surprise at the question. When no answer was forthcoming,
he continued. "What is it that stands between us and our rightful
place among the stars?" he posed. "What powers vex our mighty
Empire at every turn?"

Admiral Sorr stood confidently before his master, "Organia, my
lord," he answered.

"Incorrect, Admiral," Garth stated flatly, to the astonishment
of all present. "Organia is merely an excuse we have been deluding
ourselves with, for far too long. A treaty that has made the
Empire slumber in the same bed as that of our enemy." He stood and
let the assembly see the fire in his eyes. "Fear and ignorance,
are what obstructs our path to glory! Together they are more
devastating than a thousand Organia's, more deadly than a million
Federations." He folded his arms across his chest. "And they are
infinitely more powerful than this new 'Super Weapon', that you
have, no doubt, placed some hope in."

He looked narrowly upon the company. "You," he pointed to the
assembly of men, "have permitted a fold of sheep to dictate the
boundaries of my Empire and pretended it was because of the power
they wielded. Power beyond ours, that bound us to this section of
space. When, infact, it was fear of the extents of their power,
and ignorance of how to use that power against them, that halted
you from delivering me the galaxy," he boomed.

The Emperor placed his fists on his hips. He could see the
large group was impressed by his words, yet were confused that the
speech, though characteristically bold, lacked the solution to
the 'Organian-forged' chains that shackled them. He would soon
give them the key, but first he would rid himself of the Commander
who had been given cause to suspect the Emperor.

"Admiral Sorr has informed you of the weapon that is now mine

PAGE 74








to use in reshaping the galaxy, a weapon of such destructive power
that no other force has ever been conceived since the beginning of
creation. Yet I tell you this... we have never needed the weapon
to take Klingon rule across the Neutral Zone!" He continued to keep
them in expectation of an answer to the Peace Treaty dilemma,
relishing the power he held over them.

"And what, I am sure you are wondering, can be done while the
watchdogs of peace threaten to intervene at any moment of conflict
between the Federation and our majestic Empire? It is a good
question, one that has been avoided and side-stepped too many
times before!" The Emperor paused, changing the tone of his voice
from 'forceful' to 'mild'. "My subjects... my comrades, the
solution can be found in the very treaty that binds us. It can be
clearly seen, not in what is written on the parchment, but what
remains unwritten." Garth almost began to smile at that, enjoying,
loving every moment of their prolonged desire to see what they had
been blind to.

"Commander Kang!" Garth abruptly changed the direction of his
speech, to the unexpressed consternation of the men before him.

"Here," he said, rising from his seat, "lord Tromok." 'Or the
image of Tromok', he spoke to himself. Kang too was inspired by
the speech of the man who wore his Emperor's face. He caught
himself wishing that this man was his lord, leading them to
victory. But no, this was not him and the prime enemy was not the
Federation now. That made Kang a traitor to the Realm, for he
would have to stand against his Emperor, if not now, soon.

"I presume that you are versed in the specifics of the treaty
to which I refer?" he asked, knowing all men of command grade had
it committed to memory, by Imperial Proclamation.

"I am, as all present are, Emperor Tromok." Kang did not know
the game being played this time either, only that he was being
maneuvered into something.

How many conditions are in effect on the document as
written?" he asked the Commander as a teacher would test a student.

"Six conditions exist," Kang stated. He wondered if he would
have another opportunity to face the imposter alone. He was
certain that he would not be able to use his ship against the
Thunder. He was not only outgunned, but his crew would surely
mutiny.

"Recite the essence of each condition for us all Commander
Kang," he commanded.

Kang grit his teeth, feeling as if he would next have to
recite their alphabet. "First condition: the treaty imposed, forces
the Federation and Klingon Empire to cease hostilities or both
parties will be rendered militarily harmless. Second: a Neutral
Zone will separate both parties where no aggression will be
tolerated within zone boundaries. Third: any future aggression

PAGE 75








between the two parties will be summarily stopped by the Organians.
Fourth: no party will deny peaceful access to planetary bases
within said zone. Fifth: Organia is to be left alone, until a time
of their choosing, then they will reveal their intentions for both
parties. Sixth: planets may be peacefully developed within the
zone. Exclusive rights to any zone planet belong to the party who
most efficiently develops the planet," he concluded, thankful to be
finished.

"Very adequate, 'Captain' Kang, of the Imperial Battle
Cruiser, Fury. I now release you from my presence so that you may
formally appraise my council of the events that have transpired,"
Garth said, looking into Kang's eyes from across the distance.
"Your promotion is now on record and your ship has been notified of
your new rank."

Kang stood silently for a moment, realizing he was not going
to be present to hear the rest of the imposter's plan for the
Empire. Then he bowed low to the Emperor, "Thank you, lord
Tromok," he said, bowing low enough to be partially hidden from the
Emperor. Quickly he opened a channel to his ship's log recorder
on his communicator and placed it under the seat in front of him.
As he completed his slightly extended bow, the Emperor displayed in
his hand, the rank insignia pin of the captaincy.

"I almost forgot, Captain Kang, approach me now and receive
your honors."

Kang slowly advanced between the rows of chairs, to the aisle.
His peers and superiors gave him questioning looks. It was a rare
thing indeed for the Emperor to personally promote anyone in the
admiralty, and never a Commander. He stepped up to the platform
where the Emperor and his guard stood awaiting him. Ever so slowly
he moved his hand towards his disrupter, then halted the motion.
He reasoned that the Ramjep Avwi would have him dead on the floor
before he completed his draw. He stopped in front of the Emperor
and faced him at attention.

The Emperor took a step towards Kang and now was inches from
his face. He reached out and placed the symbol of Kang's new rank
on him. He then leaned over to the Captain, almost nose to nose
and whispered, "Give my personal regards to Chamberlain Jekrrez,"
he said poisonously. Then placed a firm hand on Kang's shoulder,
turning him around for the assembly. "I present you, 'Captain'
Kang! Salute!" he ordered. The company rose and saluted as
required. The firm hand indicated that it was time for Kang to be
gone.

Kang, stepped down from the platform and headed up the aisle
to the exit. His thoughts were of murder.

"Commander S'takal of the Romulan Fleet... stand!" Garth
commanded as the heavy door closed behind the new Captain. S'takal
rose and saluted the Klingon Emperor in Romulan fashion. "You have
all the data on the new weapon, including projected power curves.
You may now transmit this information to your superiors. Your

PAGE 76








ships will flank our cruisers when we approach the Neutral Zone."
The Romulan acknowledged his command and he and his company also
exited the room.

"Now, it is time," he addressed his troops, "that I shared
with you the keys to the galaxy!"



















































PAGE 77



*** TWELVE ***



Kang left the war room behind him and walked the corridors of
the Throneship alone. 'Alone', he thought to himself, he had never
been so alone before. He had faced the terror and the glory of the
void beyond. He had braved the vast expanses of space and seen the
wonders that they held, but always with his wife and crew beside him.
Now he would return to his ship, outcast in his heart, alienated from
his wife and ship because of the knowledge that he now carried with
him, the knowledge that he dared not share.

He prepared himself for the dishonor of the 'lie' that he
would have to tell his crew, for he was not returning to Klinzhai
as ordered. He was unsure of where he was going, but certain it
would be on the heels of the 'false' Emperor. There were several
plans of attack that had crossed his mind, one of which was
gaining access to the ship labelled 'Fringe Ranger', but even if he
could get himself aboard the intruder's vessel, he was unsure that
he would find his deposed Ruler. If he yet lived, he would be hidden
and well guarded. If dead, he would be dust. Without the body, he
would have no evidence which would unmask the face of the villain,
and he was certain that the way to the enemy ship was blocked at
all avenues.

Kang rounded the corner of the long hall, and strode towards
the transporter room. He looked down at the floor in shame for
what he was about to involve his crew in, when his eye was caught
by the gleaming symbol of his new commission. He pulled it from
his chest and held it in his hand, examining it while he walked.
It was a false commission. Another lie, but one that he would not
bear. He closed his fist around the small ornament, squeezing it in
his anger.

Commander Kang, 'Captain' to all but himself, entered the
transporter room of the Throneship. He was saluted by the
transporter officer on duty.

"What is your destination, Sir?" he asked as Kang stepped up
to the platform.

Kang looked at the officer before him. "Do you have any
children?" he asked him.

The lieutenant glanced up in surprise of the question. Then
with the pride of a father said, "Yes, Sir, a strong son."

Kang stepped from the transporter platform to the controls of
the machine the lieutenant stood behind. He placed the symbol of
Captaincy that he held, on the hood of the machine. "Give this to
your son as a present from me, who has none."

"Thank you, my lord. It will be my honor," he said, grateful
to the man, though slightly bewildered.


PAGE 78








Kang again stepped up to the platform and faced the operator.
"To the battle cruiser Fury, Lieutenant," he said mildly, bearing
the heaviness of his solitude.

"Yes, sir," responded the officer. The coordinates were laid
in quickly and efficiently. "Energizing," he said and the
Commander began to fade from view. Kang never knew that the
ornament he had just given away contained a small crystal of the
Garth explosive, rendered safe from impact but not from
transportation, and was meant to be the death of him.



* * *



Kang stepped onto his own bridge that had once felt like home
to him. The bridge crew rose from their stations and saluted
proudly, the 'Captain' of the Fury. Kang nodded in recognition of
their gesture. "Ship's status?" he directed toward his own Mara.

"Full power is restored, computer and scanning apparatus have
also been repaired. All is well, my lord," she said.

Kang wished it were true. "I will be in my quarters, briefly,
to review our new orders. What is the status of our Romulan-made,
cloaking device?"

"It is functioning and can be operational upon your command,"
she said unquestioningly. Several of the Klingon warships had
received the cloaking devices some time ago. None had yet used the
camouflaging device. It was a cultural point that had hindered
use of the equipment. Klingons believed that when engaging an
enemy, the enemy must see whom it is that has brought death to their
door. It was considered cowardice to hide from an enemy. Better to
do battle in full view, for the glory of the Empire.

"See that it is tested in simulation before I return to the
bridge," he ordered. His confidence in his wife was unwavering.
She would obey his every command even unto death, without doubt.
His confidence in himself was the sore point. He did not want to
dishonor her this way, any way. Kang turned and walked off the
bridge, heading for his private chamber.

The door to his cabin opened to his voice command, and closed
and locked itself when he was inside. He sighed heavily as he sat
behind his desk. He pressed several buttons on the computer
console before him, issued a command and two passwords, and was
allowed access to the 'Captain's' log records.

Kang played the voice log transmission that he sent to his
recorder, while aboard the Thunder. He sat back and listened.

"Now, it is time that I shared with you the keys to the
galaxy!" the voice of the Emperor came over the speaker. "The

PAGE 79








treaty, as written, is between two opposing governments, two
'Galactic Powers', is it not? The solution to our plight is
not to clash with the enemy, until we first join with our
enemy!"

With that announcement, there was no small sound of
turmoil coming from all in attendance. Kang himself was astonished
anew with the boldness of this imposter.

The Emperor obviously gestured that the company be silent
so that he may continue and clarify his meaning. "We must
first sue for peace! Officially become part of the United
Federation of Planets, then do what is completely within the
rights of all Federation members. Revolt! There is no
provision, no condition, forbidding revolution within either
governing power." With that there was silence. A few moments
for contemplation of what their Emperor proposed, was allowed.
Then he spoke again. "I, and I alone, offer you the keys to
deliver me the galaxy! Now what hinders you? Ignorance has
now been defeated before your eyes! The only thing blocking
your path is what has always been in your way!" he paused for
them to realize this. "Who will stand with me and conquer the
fear that holds back the might of my Realm? Who will follow
me as I claim my galaxy?"

Cheers burst forth from the congregation. A clamor of such
tumultuous noise that Kang turned the volume switch down, for fear
of it penetrating the doors of his cabin. He sat back, shocked to
hear the depth of this imposter's deceit. This man who had single-
handedly captured the throne of Klinzhai was about to start the
most dreaded war in the galaxy. He now wondered if it was too late
to stop it. Kang did know that he was in no position to halt this
madman alone.

"Are there any questions that I may address
concerning our next course of action?" Garth asked.

"When do we begin, my lord?" spoke Admiral Sorr,
in admiration of his master. He did not know the Emperor could
be so inspiring.

"Very soon. We will move closer to the Neutral Zone and
make our peaceful intentions known to the shining Federation.
I will take this ship, alone, to the Federation's seat of
power and proclaim a new era of peace. We will become,
temporarily, a part of the Union, which will immediately erase
any Neutral Zone boundary and nullify the hated Organian Peace
Treaty. All of you will smile at our enemy, until I have
commanded you otherwise." Enthusiastic noise was again heard
in the background.

"My lord," spoke a captain in the back, "What if
they do not believe us, and do not allow us to join?"

The sounds of the encouraged, went silent. "First, my
astute Captain, they have Federation directives mandating that

PAGE 80








any planet or government that desires to petition the Council
for peace may freely come and present their case. By their
own laws, they can not refuse us. Second, we will convince
them of our good will towards them by demonstration. We will
break all ties with the Romulans, severing our alliance."

This announcement caused some division in the fleet
commanders. Some looked at the Romulans as much needed allies,
while others looked upon them as a necessary evil, that had
brought shame to the Empire by the mere admission of needing
allies.

"SILENCE!" commanded the Emperor. "This is not a debate!
This is the WAY! He who does not have the belly for victory,
you who can not stomach the glory of our ultimate battle, step
before me and I will put you out of the misery of my service!"
There was no sound to be heard among them. They were in awe;
some, of his majesty, others, of his fierce wrath, but all, of
his command of the Klingon Empire.

"WARRIORS!" he shouted as a battle cry, "LET THIS BE THE
FINAL EMPIRE!" The roar of cheers he received this day were
the likes of which no Emperor in the Realm had ever received
before.

Kang stopped the recording. The Emperor, the 'real' Emperor,
was right, when Kang saw him in the last moments of their
communication. Before Tromok had boarded the enemy's vessel, he
had said to him with his eyes, 'what evil have you loosed in the
galaxy?' It was Kang the Destructor who had allowed the Empire to
fall into the flames. It was Kang who now had to find a way to stop
the fire from spreading. He thought long and hard about his next
move. He would have to do what neither he nor anyone else was
permitted to even attempt. He arose from his seat and departed his
cabin for the bridge.

As Kang seated himself in his command chair, and opened intra-
ship communications. "This is Kang. We have received our new
orders and will be maintaining a communications blackout for the
duration of our mission. We will be testing the cloaking device
in the Neutral Zone. I am under orders to reveal our ultimate
destination to no one. I am not, however, restricted from telling
you that we may see several close-up views of the Federation
Fleet," he said, knowing that they would be encouraged by it. To
come face to face with a Federation vessel, knowing that they held
the power in their hands to destroy it before it was aware of the
peril, then doing nothing, would give them a sense of power.

He depressed a button on his command chair which changed the
security code of the navigational station's coordinates. This
allowed him the ability to tell his navigator/helmsman speed,
distance and bearing but would prohibit the navigator from being
able to read the destination code. He would, in essence, be flying
the ship blindly.

"Torvak, set course 8-3-12 mark 4, parabolic, 32 degrees Y
axis! Warp 7", Kang commanded.

PAGE 81







"Yes sir, laying course in."

"Engage," he ordered.

The Battlecruiser Fury turned about and headed away from the
rest of the Imperial fleet. It proceeded on a wide arc that would
make it appear, at first, to be heading for Klinzhai. It was, in
fact, on course for the forbidden planet Organia. Once out of
sensor range from the fleet, the interstellar craft began to
shimmer. Light reflecting from the vessel began to distort, and in a
matter of moments the ship vanished. The Romulan 'Cloaking Device'
engaged and enveloped the Klingon cruiser, making it undetectable by
sight or sensors. The ship stealthily approached the Neutral Zone
and increased speed, dangerously, to warp 9.











































PAGE 82



*** THIRTEEN ***



The Starship Enterprise slowed, approaching a low-altitudinal
orbit around the world below. It was within one kilometer of
touching the blue planet's atmosphere; a caress that would be far
from gentle if she were to come closer.

James Kirk, Spock and Dr. McCoy, walked together down the
hall leading to the transporter room. Jim, in his formal dress-
green uniform, held a copy of the Peace Treaty and the Starfleet
Order sending him to Organia. They walked abreast down the long
corridor, each in his own thoughts; Kirk about what he would say to
the powerful beings they were about to revisit; McCoy about his
patient, Montgomery Scott; and Spock concerned himself with
gathering as much information on the Organians as possible. The
first time they had come here they were welcome. This time, they
knew, they were not.

The door to the transporter room opened to them, and the
company of three walked over to the platform. Lieutenant Patterson
stood behind the control unit and readied it, expecting the men.
He had relieved Mr. Kyle from his post for his lunch break.

Dr. McCoy stood on the broken pad that shorted out when
attempting to beam back the android. Spock gently moved him aside
to an operational one beside it. "This one is non-operational," he
offered the Doctor. "My luck it would be partially operational,"
the ship's Doctor responded unenthusiastically. The three of them
facing Lt. Patterson were a grim trio indeed.

"Energize, Mister Patterson," the Captain said.

"Aye sir," the transporter operator responded and the three
began to shimmer and were gone.



* * *



The surface of the planet Organia, was green with lush
vegetation. The air was a clean light blue, the water was pure and
the land seemed to be well cared for. It seemed to be late spring,
on Organia. Puffy white clouds drifted peacefully across the warm
sky. A gentle breeze caused the grass to ripple as if it were
waves on a green sea. It was in the midst of this green land that
the Captain, First Officer and Chief Physician of the Starship
Enterprise appeared.

The company looked round about them. Spock scanned with his
tri-corder, Jim and Bones used their own vision. Not a structure
of any sort could be seen in any direction. Not a person could be
found. The castle that should have been upon the hill was gone.

PAGE 83








The community that should have been all around them was not there.
There were animals in abundance, but nothing to indicate anyone of
intelligence. Jim pulled out his communicator from behind his back
and flipped it open. He adjusted the frequency and pressed the
sender.

"Kirk to Enterprise," he said.

"Enterprise here, Captain," came Uhura's voice.

"Transfer this communication to the transporter room, Uhura,"
he ordered her, politely.

"Yes, Captain," she said.

"This is Lieutenant Patterson," came the male voice.

"Lieutenant Patterson, confirm our present location, and
compare it to the first beamdown location recorded on this
planet."

"Aye, Sir," the air went dead as the lieutenant proceeded as
ordered. "Captain, You are within a few centimeters of the last
beamdown location," he said.

"Thank you Mr. Patterson. Kirk out," Jim replaced his
communicator and turned to the other two men. "Well, where is
everybody?" he said to them.

Spock let his tri-corder hang back down at his side. "I
believe it is highly probable that the Organians, after revealing
their true selves to us, had no need of the castle or any
structures and merely removed them," the First Officer commented.
"There is no evidence of civilization that I am able to register on
my tri-corder, Captain. Its field is, of course, limited," he
said. "There does seem to be an abundance of 'woodland creatures';
animals, insects, fowl of great variety, even micro-biological
organisms. But I have been able to detect no higher life forms."
He looked up at Jim, "Other than us," he added for additional
accuracy.

"Maybe we should have called first," offered the Doctor
flippantly, to no one in particular.

"Funny," Jim commented to Bones' humor. "It's probable that
we are not able to register the Organians with our equipment." He
looked around and came to the decision that they might as well pick
a direction to venture out and try to find 'someone'. "Well, let's
start walking. Maybe we'll stumble onto something."

"Which direction?" asked the Doctor. "It looks uninhabited in
every direction."

"Mr. Spock, what do you suggest is the logical way to go?" Jim
asked.


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Spock cocked his head. "Captain, I hear what appears to be
the sound of a large animal. It is getting closer."

"From which direction, Spock?" questioned Jim.

Spock pointed, his finger behind Bones, "Somewhere in that
general direction," he said, indicating a forest of small trees
some onehundred meters away. "By the sound of it, it is either
quite large or quite close."

"Or both! Let's go that way!" Bones suggested eagerly,
pointing in the opposite direction.

They had no weapons, although Jim did reflexively move his
hand down to his side where the phaser wasn't. All three turned
to see, what a moment ago, only Spock was able to hear, but now all
heard. They started to back-step just in case it was something
that might be dangerous.

Out from behind the front group of trees lumbered a large
bear-like creature, lazily coming toward them. It walked on all
fours, breathing heavily and dangling its lolling tongue out of
its gaping mouth. The three men ceased their retreat and stood there
unmoving, hoping that they would be unnoticed. The animal stopped,
put its nose up in the air, sniffed deeply, then looked straight at
them. Out from behind the animal a large tail started to swing from
side to side. It began immediately to head directly for the trio.

Bones nervously fumbled for his medical bag, in hopes of
loading his spray hypo with a strong sedative for the giant animal
and perhaps, he thought, for himself. Instead, he dropped the
contents of the bag in the thick tall grass. The bear-thing seemed
to increase in speed as it neared them.

"Nobody move," ordered Jim, who had spent several summers long
ago, in Yosemite National Park: Earth. The bears there were known
to occasionally attack a careless tourist or two. He had been
told to play dead if a bear had him cornered. Lie flat on his
stomach, just in case the bear decided to rake his claws across
him, protecting his vital organs from the often lethal blows.

As the bear creature closed the gap, Spock noticed that
instead of the pointy long teeth of a carnivore, its teeth were
blunt, even where the canines should have been. He could also
detect no claws on the creature's big shaggy paws, but it was
coming awfully fast, and it was Spock's experience that some of
the most gentle-looking animals could eat Vulcans.

"Asher, stop!" a voice commanded in the distance, as the furry
giant was almost upon them. It obeyed the voice, turned around to
see its master coming out of the trees, and sat, thumping its
heavy tail on the ground. It was Ayelborne. The robed man walked
towards the three men. "Don't worry about Asher," he spoke, loud
enough for them to hear him. "He cannot hurt you."

"Ayelborne," the Captain addressed him and started towards

PAGE 85








him. "I am glad to see you again."


"Why have you come, knowing that we do not wish you here?" he
questioned. The tone of his voice was one of deep disappointment.
"You have broken the treaty and brought back the evil to our
world," he said as he stopped to pet Asher.

"I was ordered here by my superiors, Ayelborne," the Captain
said as he walked up to the man and the animal. The animal sniffed
the Captain, and licked his hand like a gentle faithful pet.

"Don't you know why we are here?" McCoy jumped in, "Aren't you
guys supposed to be omniscient?"

"Bones!" Jim sharply rebuked him.

"In answer to your question, Mr. 'Bones'... no," Ayelborne said
mildly. "We have never claimed to be. We know many things that you
do not and we are certainly different from you, but there is only One
who is 'omniscient'."

"Ayelborne," Jim began, realizing that he was running out of
precious time, "I need to ask you... I have to ask you some
questions as a representative of the United Federation of Planets
and Starfleet," he said, none too comfortably. "The reason we are
here is because somehow the Klingon Empire has a weapon that was
taken from the Federation. I have been sent by my government to
ask you why you didn't intervene when the planet Elba II and
outpost Delta Gamma 13 were attacked and destroyed by the Klingons?"

"Captain, I assure you, the Klingon Empire has not been
involved aggressively in Federation Space," he answered in all
sincerity. "We have been watching, as we promised, both sides of
the Zone of Neutrality. There has been no aggression, Captain."

"Ayelborne, I would like to believe you," he began, but then
decided to be completely truthful with the man. "I do believe you,
Ayelborne, but I need some kind of explanation to take back with me
to my superiors. If I do not, I will be forced to do something
terrible."

"Captain, I can not explain what I have no knowledge of," he
said honestly. "We have never concerned ourselves with 'police'
matters on either side. Our involvement with you is limited to
holding back the evil of the two governing powers. The fact that
we have to do this is most disturbing to us," he spoke in earnest.
"Overexposure to men such as you is not only painful to us but
there is the danger of, you might say, 'loosing the serpent in
Eden' again."

Jim reflected on the last, for a moment. So little was known
of this gentle and powerful people. Virtually nothing about their
history, or even their present civilization. And this peaceful
place was very much like the description of the 'Eden' he had
mentioned. He held many questions about them, but he had to return
back to the matters at hand. "Then you must at least know of the

PAGE 86








spaceship that crossed the Neutral Zone boundary three days ago."

"Yes, we did see a privately owned ship enter from your side
and exit on the Klingonese side," he confirmed. "But it was
neither owned by nor represented either governing body, in any
official capacity."

This was true, for when Captain Garth of Izar had been
institutionalized, he was stripped of all powers of diplomacy or
Federation representation.

"Can you tell me about this ship? Did it have a name, or
registration number? Anything about its design, external
markings, anything?"

"It did have a title written on the top of it. 'Fringe Ranger'
is what it read," he said in a mellow voice. "If that is any help
to you."

"Indeed," Spock stated. "It adds an important piece to the
puzzle." Spock worked silently on how the piece could fit.
"Captain, I have a hypothesis. I will need to have access to the
ship's computer to corroborate it. If I may contact the ship and
have myself beamed aboard, it should only take a few minutes to
gather and process the information I require."

"Go, Spock," Jim said, finally hearing the first encouraging
word of the day.

"And, Captain," Spock said, "I believe, in light of this
information, you may cancel our 'Noon' appointment."

"Good, Spock. It will give me great pleasure to countermand
the, uhm, appointment," he said with relief. "Excuse me for a
moment, please." he said to his host and stepped a few yards away.
He pulled out his communicator, and opened a channel directly tied
in to the ship's computer. "Computer," he said quietly, "This is
Captain James T. Kirk."

"Working... identification confirmed," the Enterprise's
computer said to its Captain.

"Cancel auto-destruct sequence," Jim instructed the machine.

"Auto destruct sequence has been canceled."

Jim Kirk closed the communicator and he replaced it behind his
back and pulled his shirt over it. Turning around he saw Spock
begin to shimmer and disappear. Ayelborne was standing strangely,
with his eyes closed, as if he was engaged in deep concentration.
McCoy had finished picking up his medical equipment and now stood
beside the bear-thing, scanning it with his medical tool.

"Jim," he said, "this is amazing," he indicated the animal in
front of him. "This 'Asher' is very similar to a Grizzly bear of
Earth, but it is a vegetarian. It contains no harmful bacteria in

PAGE 87








its body, and it seems to be utilizing nearly 100 percent of its
brain."

"That is amazing, Bones," Jim agreed, feeling a great weight
off his shoulders.

"That's not all Jim, It seems to also be able to consume 100
percent of his dietary intake. It has a small stomach and in its
intestine, there's a naturally enlarged appendix that seems to
store excess food and processes it only when necessary. But that's
still not all," he said excitedly, "The animal's intestine has no
exit. There is no waste."

"Yes," Ayelborne said, opening his eyes, "on this world, all
the animals are semi-intelligent, plant eaters, and there is no
disease here." He turned to the Captain, with a serious look on his
face. "Captain Kirk," he began, "your Mr. Spock believes I have
given him the answer to your problem... I have not," he stated
somberly. "I have given him, perhaps, a solution to the immediate
predicament, but the problem runs far deeper than any of you
realize."

"What do you mean, Ayelborne?" Jim responded, truly interested
in whatever information this man could offer.

"First, Captain, I have been informed that you are on the brink
of war. A war that 'we' will not, by treaty, stop. We do not know
the details, but it is clear to my friend Claymare that 'you' will
figure prominently in an attempt to halt it. We are unsure that you
will be able to, but this time we cannot assist."

"A war that you won't stop?" Jim asked the man.

"We are bound by the Treaty as are you and the Klingons. But
we will go no further than the treaty indicates." He looked at the
Captain and saw that the man still did not understand. "We connot
allow your two opposing cultures to destroy each other and countless
trillions of innocents with them... But there is a limit we have
placed on ourselves, even for our own sakes. We have not wanted to
have contact with any being who embraces evil so easily as you."
He spoke to Jim, not condescendingly but matter-of-factly. "But
for your sakes we have committed ourselves to the protection of
both your races. However, as I mentioned before, we will not be
responsible for any 'police action'. We will not interfere with
your internal governments or anything outside of treaty bonds."

Jim Kirk, felt that he comprehended the reason as to 'why' they
had placed these restraints on themselves. He likened it to the
Federation's Prime Directive of non-interference. But he could not
understand the grounds for continually being referred to as 'evil'?

"Ayelborne, I know we are not perfect," Jim began, in defense of
his humanity, "but we are not without values. We prize honor,
justice, life, and most of all love. Surely you can't call us evil
with these noble qualities in us."


PAGE 88








"They are noble indeed, just as you say... But Captain,"
sorrow became evident in his voice, "with them you harbor malice,
self-centeredness and pride. You lust for what you do not have,
and when you attain it, it does not satisfy your greed. You call
good, evil and evil, good; ethics that are dependant only upon the
situation and personal opinion, not founded on basic truths...
Captain, do you not yet understand that it takes but a little poison
to destroy the whole banquet?"

Ayelborne spoke to the Captain, not as some 'Superior Being'
smug with self-righteousness, nor as an accuser, but he spoke to
Jim as one friend trying to help another.

"Your race has advanced into outer space and found others to
wage war against. All the while you claim that you have changed,
but what you mean is that socially and technologically you have
advanced, but you remain the same within yourselves, lacking the
ability to change your very nature."

Jim listened intently to the man, not liking to see the truth
about himself, not liking someone else to reveal it to him. He
knew this was what Ayelborne would call 'pride'. "You said, once
you were like us. What enabled you to attain this 'peace' that you
have, and the power to change?"

"Once, we were like you, and with further contact it is
conceivable that we could again be seduced into that way of thinking.
That is the danger we fear most," he added in all seriousness. "I
will give you our secret... that has never been secret:"

With that announcement, Bones stood up and gave the being his
full attention too.

"You, as all beings everywhere, have heard the message of
peace. Now as ever, it is up to you to accept or reject it." His
voice sounded hopeful, for the first time this day. Ayelborne
continued. "Press on into space, Captain... Advance; find new
worlds; search the stars and attain what was once thought
unattainable. But do not forget the Creator who caused it all to
be. Do not leave His truth behind you as you go. Do not allow the
One who made you and gave you purpose to become hated, or worse...
ignored."

Dr. McCoy looked at Jim, who seemed thoughtful of the saying,
and then to Ayelborne, "That's it?" asked Bones incredulously, dis-
liking what he would call 'being preached to'. "That's the Big
secret?"

"Do not mistake its simplicity with folly, Doctor. If the
solution were not so easy, only the intelligent and educated would
find peace. If it were difficult, no child, no unlearned, no
simple in mind would be able to take hold of this peace. It is
'mercifully' easy and is the only true way of peace in this creation
we call the universe. But it first starts with the believing, before
you can receive it. It begins with the simple faith that 'God is'."


PAGE 89








Spock suddenly appeared behind Bones. As a shimmer at first,
then whole and complete.

Ayelborne pointed to the Vulcan. "Ask your companion who is
schooled in logic. Ask him if there be a God, as is consistently
believed in on all worlds, is it not logical that wise men still
seek Him? Is it not equally logical that He provide a way to be
found?"

Spock looked momentarily uncomfortable; as if he had walked
into the middle of a discussion... which he had. He was able to
hear Ayelborne's words and felt compelled to comment. "The argument
that you offer, Ayelborne, appears to be 'quite' logical. I might
ask however, to which God is it that you refer, and what 'way' to
him are you suggesting?"

Ayelborne smiled for the first time. "I know that there are
many beliefs. In times past, even to this day, people worshipped
stone and wood images, they worshipped the trees and animals, even
other people. They worshipped the planets and the stars. I refer
to the One who made all that is; seen and unseen. It is the Creator
we know and glorify, not the creation," the gentle man said. "The
'way' is the one way that was provided by Him. All have heard of
it, though most still disregard it." He turned to Jim. "Your word
for him is 'The Christ'. Mr. Spock's is 'The Ancient T'alal'."

"Interesting..." Spock stated thoughtfully. "I have often
reflected upon the many parallels of the words and deeds of T'alal,
in comparison to that of Christ. The only substantial differences
are cultural in nature, the fundamentals are identical. Even the
stories of Eden, compare to that of Sha Ka Ree and there are many
other similarities. It is indeed something to consider."

Jim's thoughts were of how much the worlds, and peoples of the
universe had in common, but have failed to see a common design.
He realized then that, though he wanted to hear more, he had
serious worries about this 'war', Ayelborne mentioned. "Spock," he
said, knowing that he was breaking the spirit of the moment, "what
have you come up with?"

"Captain, I have two hypotheses," Spock stated, "both of
which implicate not the Klingon Empire, but Commodore Stormcloud.
I searched the Commodore's recent travel history to help
corroborate my suspicion. It seems that he personally visited Elba
II, 2.3 months ago, and had spent an entire week there. His stay
was almost exclusively devoted to visiting former Captain Garth.
Upon leaving the planet, he made a direct trip to the planet
Tolmera. The justification for the trip was filed as 'classified'.
My conclusion is this; that either A: Commodore Stormcloud is the
primary person responsible for engineering the destruction of Elba
II and outpost Delta Gamma 13. This being done in order to
implicate the Klingons with the Organian people, giving him excuse
to start a war... and end Organia's ability to prevent it."

"And hypothesis 'B'?" Jim asked.


PAGE 90








"That Commodore Stormcloud is merely a pawn in a much greater
game. That Garth, the Izarian, was possibly 'not' cured of his
madness as we had thought, and that he escaped his imprisonment
with Stormcloud's direct or indirect assistance and has fled to the
Klingon Empire to wreak destruction and perhaps fulfill his
intentions of galactic conquest," Spock concluded.

"You are certain about Stormcloud?" Jim questioned, inwardly
hoping that hypothesis 'A' was the correct one.

"We have motive: His expressed views while in conference on
the Javelin, coupled with our orders for the destruction of Organia.
We have opportunity: His stay on Elba II and voyage to Tolmera.
We have the intended weapons: The Enterprise, the Tolmerian
android and the Fringe Ranger. I believe we have enough evidence
to initiate a general court-martial."

"Good work, Spock. Now maybe we can do something to stop this
insanity before it begins." he said, forgetting the words of war
prophesied to him. But only for a moment. He turned to Ayelborne,
"It's not going to be stopped in time, is it?" he asked solemnly.

Ayelborne responded, equally as solemn, "No, Captain. I am
afraid it will not."

"Is there anything you can tell us that will help?" Jim asked.

"Yes, though I do not know the significance of it." he
remembered the words of days past, when Claymare foretold the
Captain's coming. "A Klingon battleship is on its way here. It
will arrive in a matter of minutes."

"A Klingon Cruiser? Why?" Jim questioned.

"I can only assume that it is here for the same reasons as
you. The need for answers to questions of happenings in their
part of the galaxy. You may find that you can supply them with as
many answers as they can supply you with." he offered, on a
hopeful note. Then, "Gentlemen, it is time that you return to your
ship. Please," he said.

Jim looked at the alien man, whose face seemed to be made for
smiling, not for sadness. They had come to this planet twice now,
neither time had it been under peaceful circumstances. Captain
James T. Kirk regretted this. He would have liked to demonstrate
the virtuous ideals held by the Federation, the friendship that it
offered and the brotherhood that he enjoyed in it. But the Captain
thought that, perhaps even their very best paled against what the
Organians had offered them.

"Ayelborne," Jim said, wanting to express his sorrow for all
that had been brought to this peaceful world. He wanted to
apologize for every angry thought that he and others in the
Federation had harbored towards them. He wanted to tell him of how
he wished he could stay longer and become friends with the people
of this world. All he could manage in the end was, "I wish

PAGE 91








things were different."

Ayelborne looked him in the eye, "Captain, my friend... things
will be. Don't forget." he said, as he began to glow and change
into a being of pure light. "Don't forget." He vanished, but was
not gone. Asher looked up as if he knew exactly where his master
was, and began to wag his tail. The huge animal got up off of the
ground and seemed to follow the invisible man back the way they had
come. He stopped, looked back at the strangers, smiled pleasantly
at them and entered the forest.

"The more I know about this place," the Doctor stated, "the
less I understand."

"Gentlemen," Jim said, "let's get back to the ship."










































PAGE 92



*** FOURTEEN ***



The Starship Javelin slowed as it neared the Neutral Zone,
where it took its place ahead of the other cruisers. The
Federation Fleet had arrived at the border of the Zone mere hours
earlier. Large and small craft alike faced the invisible boundary
that had been established as a buffer to prevent war. Small
armored fighter craft swarmed and darted about the perimeter of the
fleet in battle formation, ready to engage the enemy at a moment's
notice. Six Constitution-Class Starships were there with twenty-
two destroyers in protective formation around them. The cruiser
Javelin readied its weapons and with the rest of the Fleet, it
waited.

On the bridge of the Javelin, Commodore Stormcloud stood
behind the captain's chair, rehearsing in his mind the plans of
Garth's war. He knew his part well. He would play himself,
'Stormcloud the Klingon hater'. The idea was his to send the
android to destroy Organia, one he was singularly proud of. Garth
had said that it was unnecessary. 'Perhaps', thought the Commodore,
'but it would be a shame to have the new empire of the elite
delayed or halted by underestimating their place in the equation'.

Stormcloud had not always been a man bent on the destruction
of the 'Romulan' and 'Klingon' Empires. Once he would have even
been pleased to have participated in friendly relations with both
empires. That was before the Romulans invaded Federation space
three years ago and murdered his wife. Andrea Stormcloud was
stationed on Outpost 4 bordering the Romulan Neutral Zone. This
particular Zone was established eight decades ago at the end of
the 'Hundred Years War', the war between the Romulans and
Interplanetary Coalition now known as the UFP.

The Outposts there were older battle stations, the forerunners
of the ones now guarding the Klingon Zone. They were buried deep
within asteroids, moons and planets along the perimeter of
Federation space. The Romulans had been silent and had not even
come near the Federation for nearly a century, until they decided
to test their newly developed weapons on their former adversaries.

Stormcloud's wife never saw the enemy who had come to destroy
the Outpost. It was the first recorded time that the cloaking
device, 'invisibility screen', and Photon Torpedoes had ever been
tactically used against the Federation. The Outpost was woefully
unprepared for the level of destruction that was wrought upon it.
The Romulan ship mercilessly attacked and annihilated his wife's
base of operations. None survived.

Commodore Stormcloud had died with his wife that day. The
man who now stood on the bridge of the Javelin was a dark and
angry dark and angry reflection of the man he once was. The only
joy he had now was the joy of the enemy's death at hand.

Commodore Nathaniel Stormcloud looked down at the Captain of

PAGE 93








the Space Cruiser. He did not know if anyone on board the ship
would survive the weeks that were in store for them. He almost wished
that he could share with Captain Hamill the secret he kept. He had
grown to respect the man, but he would not allow himself to form a
friendship with him or anyone. He would never again give a hostage
to fortune. Not in this universe. Perhaps in the next.

"Please establish ship to ships communication, Captain
Hamill," Stormcloud requested.

The Captain did not turn from the viewscreen. He pointed his
thumb over his shoulder and the communications officer understood
it as a command. "Channel open, scramble code 3, Sir," the Junior
Officer said.

"This is Stormcloud. Operation Barrier Reef is now under my
command. Our present complement of Starships and Destroyers
deployed here are merely the Vanguard of this defensive strategy.
More are either on the way, or have already taken positions out of
sensor range behind us. We are in the process of recommissioning
and rearming much of the old Fleet, but they will not be
operational for several weeks." Stormcloud paused to clear his
throat.

"Although we expect a full frontal assault, the Federation
President has ordered me to bridle our forces until invasion is
confirmed. Our last intelligence report has Klingon forces
amassing directly ahead of our position. In the event of attack,
there remains the possibility of them employing the explosive that
was used against Outpost DG-13. Lateral warp maneuvers with
angular convergence on the enemy will be our safest recourse
should the weapon be used."

"All communications are to be code-3, scrambled and only
essential messages sent. Further detailed briefing will be held at
01:00 hours, this ship. Any questions will be addressed then.
Stormcloud out."

Stormcloud watched the images of the space fleet on the
forward viewer. He watched and waited for a message that was sure
to come at any moment. The message would be from a Starbase or
spacecraft reporting subspace disturbances caused by an explosion,
on or quite near the planet Organia. He did not doubt that the
message would come, for time had expired on the little planet. The
Enterprise and her crew were a necessary sacrifice for freeing the
Federation from the bondage of this imposed benevolence of the
Organians. He would not allow himself even the barest regret at the
loss of the famous Starship.

The Commodore directed his thoughts backwards to the day that
lord Garth invited him to join the ranks of the elitist group.
Together, with the others who would surely flock to their call,
they would purge the galaxy of its factions of anarchy. They
would bring the universe out of the hands of the legislators of
morality, to the proper rule of lord Garth and the New Masters of
the Galaxy. Garth had shown great strength of will and the

PAGE 94








singleness of purpose which Stormcloud admired deeply. The man's
vision of the future, coupled with the designs and means to achieve
it, had been embraced gladly by the Commodore. Now the fulfillment
of this vision neared glorious realization.

"Captain, I am reading the arrival of a dreadnought at the
Klingon boundary." The Javelin's Science Officer cut into the
Commodore's meditation. He then immediately updated his report. "I
now have seventy-nine targets on the scanner!" he continued. "Three
of them are Romulan ships."

"This is it," spoke Stormcloud, grimly. "Sound general
quarters!"

The alarm was ship-wide, and when detected by the other
Federation vessels, it instantly went fleet-wide. The Fleet
formation was presently defensive, but it was now making
preparation to go on the offensive at the Commodore's command.

"Have any of the detected targets crossed over the Zone
boundary?" Captain Hamill asked the Science Officer.

"No, Sir, they are positioned as we are, still holding."

"Captain," the communications officer cut in, "I am receiving
a message from the Imperial Throneship, the dreadnought, Sir.
They wish to approach us. Alone!"

"Ask them for their terms, Captain." Stormcloud ordered.

"On bridge speakers, Lieutenant," he commanded his Comm
Officer. "This is Captain Hamill, of the Star Cruiser Javelin. Who
are you and what are the terms you request in order to make your
approach?"

"This is Imperious Admiral Sorr of the Klingon Empire and we
request no terms. We will approach, unarmed and by ourselves. We
will make no aggressive moves," the voice responded over the ship's
speakers. "His Imperial Highness, lord Mocdar Jek Tromok, wishes to
speak to your highest in command. Would that be you, Captain
Hamill?"

"That would be Commodore Nathanial Stormcloud, representing
the United Federation of Planets. He is here and can hear you,"
the Captain offered the Commodore his seat. Stormcloud sat his
large frame in the command seat and waited for the 'new' Emperor,
to address him.

"This is Emperor Tromok. Do we have your permission for our
lone ship to approach the mighty Federation fleet?"

"Emperor Tromok, I am Commodore Stormcloud, you have our
permission to temporarily enter Federation Space. You may approach
our fleet," he stated with authority. "Be aware that we will be
intensely scanning your ship as you do so. We will also be watching
your own 'mighty fleet', for any movement or aggressive behavior."

PAGE 95








"Understood. We are coming now," the Emperor announced.

The Thunder broke the Klingonese boundary of the Zone and
slowly increased speed to meet the Federation Fleet. Scans from
all Federation ships penetrated the lone behemoth as it neared
them. No detection of the explosive of Garth's creation, nor any
other weapon in active status, could be found. Nevertheless, this
knowledge offered little comfort on the bridge of the Javelin. The
situation could become explosive at any instant.

"Has your scanning equipment given you acceptable readings?"
the Emperor queried. The Thunder, still coming, breached the vast
distance of the Zone.

Stormcloud looked at the science station. The officer there
gave him a nod and said, "I detect no active weapons, Sir. Not even
the 'one in question'."

"They are acceptable," Stormcloud stated, "if not satis-
factory. Let us be honest with one another, Emperor Tromok. You
could be holding an arsenal aboard your ship, but if it is in an
inactive state, it remains undetectable. Therefore I ask you, what
is your purpose here? What is so important that you should leave
your world, to face us alone and on 'our' side of the Zone?"

"Peace, Commodore," the Emperor offered simply. "I am here to
extend the hand of peace to all in the Federation."

The bridge crew of the Javelin, including Captain Hamill,
expressed their astonishment at the announcement. Never before had
the Klingon Empire, of its own free will, extended anything but
the business end of a disruptor to the Federation. Stormcloud
remained unmoved by the declaration.

"You offer what you cannot deliver, Emperor Tromok," the
Commodore stated flatly. "Is there anything else that you would
like to announce before we escort you back to your Empire?"

"Yes, Commodore," Tromok announced grandly, "we wish to
formally petition the United Federation of Planets for the Klingon
Empire's Official entry into the coalition. I request that council
be held between the two governing bodies to establish peaceful
relations to that end. I believe that according to your Federation
regulations, I may not be refused." he said confidently as if
reading the directive directly from the Starfleet Manual.

The Commodore gave indication of his rage before the ship's
crew. He did not want to overplay his role, but if it were not
Garth leading the Empire, he would have more than just 'indicated'
his rage.

"Mr. Land," Captain Hamill addressed his Comm Officer, "break
Subspace silence. Advise Starfleet that we are guaranteeing safe
passage to the Klingon Emperor to UFP headquarters, Earth, on
flight corridor .401 to .402."


PAGE 96








"Belay that order!" Stormcloud interrupted and squared himself
off against the Captain. "We are not letting this Klingon remain in
Federation space for another minute."

"Commodore, we are bound by our most fundamental regulations
to aid all beings who desire admittance to the Federation. I don't
know what the Emperor is up to, but he knows our rules, and we have
no choice but to honor them," Captain Hamill said. He was not
pleased with his duty, at the moment, but he would not let
Stormcloud force him into any corner that would place his 'command'
in jeopardy.

Stormcloud remained silent for a moment, looking angrily at
the unbudging, unflinching Captain. If there was any hesitation
about allowing the Klingons into Federation Territory, Stormcloud
had effectively driven it out of the Captain. All according to
plan.

"Emperor Tromok," the Commodore said, "you appear to be quite
correct in your interpretation of our regulations. We will provide
you with a protected flight corridor and escort to UFP
headquarters, as requested." He shot another angry look at the
Captain. "We request a demonstration of good faith by making some
token gesture, say, having your fleet fall back with all weapons
powered down."

"I will do that and more," the Emperor boasted. "Does your
equipment allow you to distinguish between Klingon and Romulan ship
designs?"

"It does," spoke Stormcloud.

"Then you are able to detect the three Romulan vessels that
are currently flanking my fleet?" he asked.

"We are aware of them."

"Commodore Stormcloud, in a gesture of our promising new
friendship, I would like to announce that the Klingon Empire is
publicly sanctioning the breaking of ties with the Romulan Empire.
We hereby annul all treaties of our former alliance," Tromok
stated.

The Romulan Birds of Prey broke formation upon hearing the
Emperor's proclamation. The ships turned from the fleet and headed
away as evasively as their speed would allow. They were closely
pursued by nine Klingon battle cruisers. The Romulan warships
quickly sent their Empire subspace messages of their betrayal as
they attempted their escape. They powered up their aft weaponry but
upon seeing the mighty ships behind them, they decided stealth was
a better option. However, before the Vulcanoid warships could
cloak themselves from their former allies, they were fired upon.
Massive blasts of photon energy came at them from behind and they
were quickly and mercilessly destroyed.

Stormcloud relished the brief taste of revenge at seeing the

PAGE 97








three ships vaporize before his eyes. It did not satisfy him, but
served well to whet his appetite for more to come. He could
imagine seeing Garth smile with another man's face on the bridge
of the Thunder. The 'way' was being paved without flaw. With the
Romulan Empire insulted and injured by the Klingon Empire, they
would surely be preparing for war. The Federation would see this
as a distinct threat to themselves and help expedite the alliance
with the Klingons.

Soon all would be searching for the one who would be able to
deliver them from war, and lead them to a 'new age' of peace.
Garth was ready to step in and offer the way to all who would hear.
His way, his plan. Any opposition would be crushed, not just by
Garth himself, but by the fearful and ignorant masses. By the ones
who would rather kill than be leaderless, hopeless. The ones who
would rather murder for a vision, any vision, than perish without
one. Fear and ignorance. The greatest weapons in the Galaxy.
Weapons that would, of a surety, be used.

"You have an interesting way of cutting through the 'Red Tape'
of diplomacy, Emperor Tromok. I hope, for your sake, that this
policy does not extend into Federation relations." Stormcloud
warned. "My Fleet will stay here to keep yours company,"
Stormcloud said to the Klingon Ruler. "You will follow this ship
to the planet Earth. I will have myself transferred to the Starship
Republic. Captain Hamill will be your host and your guide."

"We await your ship's lead. Tromok out."

The Javelin turned about and set a direct course for the small
blue planet in the Sol system. It was followed closely, ominously,
by the Klingon juggernaut, Thunder. They were on their way to
Earth. Nothing stood in the way.
























PAGE 98



*** FIFTEEN ***



The Enterprise pulled herself higher above the planet that she
orbited. Her shiny hull lifted upwards and away from the strong
gravitational pull of the blue world she very nearly embraced. Up
into the star-spangled sky, where she was placed into a safer,
standard orbit. The damage that she had sustained within her tubular-
shaped propulsion unit was unnoticeable from the exterior. She
still looked as if she could fight with the best of them, for, by
most accounts, she was the best of them.

In sickbay, Dr. M'Benga stood over Commander Montgomery
Scott's bed and continued to argue with the Chief Engineer about
not getting out of it. Nurse Chapel had been avoiding the Commander
to delay getting herself involved in the same conversation with
him. His hand looked much better, and the lacerations on his face
were closed and covered with synthetic skin. The missing finger
would be replaced with a micro-bionic prosthetic digit which he
could choose to wear or detach at his leisure. Mr. Scott did not
like the idea of having a finger that could leap tall buildings in
a single bound and determined within himself that he would only wear
it to his sister's wedding, while playing the pipes, and to church.

In his own quarters, Commander Spock was preparing an edited
version of his log concerning the events on the planet Holberg 917g.
Spock had promised his captain that he would be provided with a copy
to compare with his own. Had it not been edited, it would cause Jim
no small amount of confusion. Spock had not considered all the
problems that locking away the Captain's memories would present, not
that it would have prevented him from doing so. He finished with
his work and retrieved the flat memory square from the console.
Rising from his desk, he exited his quarters and headed for the Main
Bridge. Any time now, they were expecting a visitor from the Klingon
Empire. Spock wanted to be present for this interesting event
foretold by Ayelborne.

As the doors parted, allowing Spock entry to the bridge, he
became immediately aware that his captain and Dr. McCoy were
listening intently to a subspace message over the bridge speakers.
Spock listened as well. Starfleet was announcing that the
Klingonese Emperor was on his way to Earth to join the United
Federation of Planets. While this process of peace was taking
place, all Starfleet vessels were ordered to maintain a low profile
and refrain from even giving the appearance of hostility towards
the Empire. It also mentioned the grave danger the Federation was
now in with regards to the Romulan Empire. Spock walked over to
his science station and recalibrated his instrument panel as he
listened.

While Sulu and Checkov listened, they exchanged glances of
surprise and disbelief. "This is getting weirder all the time,"
Sulu remarked to his partner at arms.

"That is the end of the message, Sir," Uhura stated.

PAGE 99








Jim Kirk turned to Commander Spock. "Did you catch the
message, Spock?" he asked.

"I did, Captain. It would seem that we are not far from the
war Ayelborne spoke of."

That little word 'war' was very effective in getting the
attention of the bridge crew. It seemed to instantly dash all
hope of the peace they had just heard of into the abyss. Not
trusting the Klingons anyway, their hopes of peace with them had
not been extremely high in the first place.

"But the Klingons as allies? The Romulans entering the
picture? That's not what I understood him to mean. He mentioned
specifically 'police action'."

Spock pondered the meaning from every angle. "I can think of
no explanation, with the information we have currently obtained,
that would connect all elements of the puzzle. We must assume that
there are still several missing pieces."

"Well, sounds like we're doomed, ta me," McCoy said, only half
jokingly. "The Klingons are famous liars and the Romulans seldom
bluff. Maybe we should beam back down to Organia and go native."

"Spock," Kirk said, ignoring the Doctor's comment, "analyze
the Starfleet transmission. Maybe it was a counterfeit engineered
by the Klingon ship we are expecting."

"Doubtful, Captain, but I shall examine it," Spock responded.

"Captain?" Sulu asked. "May I ask about what you meant about
us 'expecting' Klingons?" The sentence did not sound quite right to
Sulu either.

"I'm not sure myself, Sulu. But yes, we have been informed
by the Organians that we should expect a Klingon warship soon,"
Jim stated. "It is presumed that this will not be a hostile
encounter. That's all we know."

Checkov turned to his friend, "Do not try to figure eet out,
or you'll go crazy... Like de time ve ver in orbit around Psi 2000
ven you tought you ver de vorld's greatest swordsman, and you had
to rescue Uhura."

"That wasn't my fault!" Sulu said, not too angrily. It had
been a sensitive point, but one that was, with time, gaining its
calluses. "Besides, Riley was the one who really went nuts on us."

"That's ancient history," Jim said to the two, "gentlemen," In
hopes that they did not bring to mind the fact that Kirk had lost
control of himself during the incident being discussed.

"Captain," Spock reported, "I have completed my analysis of
the Starfleet transmission. It is genuine."


PAGE 100








"That's what I was afraid of," he said. "Spock, it has been
quite a while since Ayelborne said the Klingon ship was coming. At
the time, he said it would only be a matter of minutes."

"That is what he indicated. I do not think that they would
either misinform us or make an error about the point. The logical
alternative is,"

"The logical alternative is that they are already here."

"Quite logical, Captain," Spock concurred.

Jim had to stop himself from signalling a call to general
quarters. The message they had just received forbade that unless
there was no other option. "Uhura, open a wide band, short range
channel and uncoded."

The use of subspace as a broadcast medium was still
impossible, but reception and local broadcast was undamaged.
"Channel open now sir," the pretty, dark woman said.

"Klingon vessel, this is Captain James T. Kirk of the Starship
Enterprise. We know you are out there. Show yourself and we may
be able to help each other," spoke Kirk.

There was no response. The stars in front of them revealed
nothing but the vacuous blackness between them. "Klingon vessel,"
Jim continued, "we have been down to the surface of Organia. We
now know that you are an innocent party concerning the destruction
of Outpost Delta Gamma 13 and that our suspicion of your invading
our space is untrue. We also have information involving the ship
that did invade Klingon space. If you are interested then show
yourself, or we will be on our way." Jim said, hoping to be able
to spur an exchange of information with them.

"Captain, look!" Uhura said, pointing at the viewer. The
Imperial Cruiser, Fury, became visible, not more than 1000 meters
in front of them. The Predator class cruiser looked, to Kirk, like
the deadly weapon that she was intended to be.

"Captain Kirk," the familiar voice coming from the Klingon
ship greeted Jim, "this is Command," he caught himself "This is
Captain Kang. It seems that the hand of providence would have us
meet again."

"It would seem," Jim agreed. "It would also seem that Starbase
16 was able to return you to your people safely." Jim referred to
the last time they had met: A time they had almost killed each
other, more than once, and perhaps for all eternity. When Kirk and
Kang had been forced to work together, to purge an enemy 'entity'
from the Enterprise, an entity that forced them to fight, then
healed their wounds that they might fight again and again. Kang's
ship had been destroyed, so in the end the Enterprise had ferried

the Klingon crew to Starbase 16, where they were processed and
returned home.


PAGE 101








"I am here with them," Kang stated. "Enough with the obvious,
Captain. You mentioned that you had information on the ship that
has entered Klingon space? I would hear this news you offer."

"Why don't we meet? Face to face. You could beam aboard and
perhaps enlighten us to the event as well. We too have some
questions that you may be able to provide answers to."

"Kirk, my one-time enemy, what makes you think that I would
enjoy being aboard your ship again?" he posed to the Starship
Captain. "I will give you the same offer. In addition, I will
guarantee that this ship is free from 'Hate Consuming Entities' and
that you will not be harmed in any way."

"You seem gracious today, Kang," Jim said, in partial jest.
"My First Officer and I will take you up on the offer. We'll be
there shortly. Kirk out." he announced. "Lieutenant Uhura..."

"Yes, Sir, channel closed." she said in anticipation of his
command.

"Lieutenant Uhura," Jim continued, "you have the Con."

"Me, Sir?" she questioned. "I mean, Aye, Sir!" she said,
rising from her station and removing her ear-peace. Her first duty
would be ordering her replacement for communications.

"Let's go, Spock. We have to stop a war that has yet to
begin," the Captain reminded the one person who never needed
reminding. Dr. McCoy decided that it was time he returned to
sickbay, and followed Spock and Jim to the turbo-lift.

Uhura set herself down in the seat of command. She placed an
arm on each rest and felt the comfort of the chair. "Oh boys?"
she said to Checkov and Sulu, as the lift doors closed. They both
slowly turned to her, wary of her tone of voice. "If you are going
to continue exchanging any more jokes... they had all better be in
good taste," she said sternly but with a partial smile on her
face. "That is an order," she purposely added.

The two looked at each other for a moment, resigning
themselves to her authority. "Yes, ma'am," They said at the same
time and dejectedly turned back to their stations. She rested back
into the chair, sorry that her orders were only temporary.

In the lift, Spock handed his captain the small flat square,
that was his altered log entry. The Captain placed it in his pocket
with a "Thanks, Spock," and the doors opened to let the Doctor off
at sickbay.

"Be careful Jim," Bones said as they parted company.

"Have you ever known me to be otherwise, Doctor?" Jim asked
and quickly added, "Don't answer that! G'bye, Bones."

The doors closed again. When next they opened, both Jim and

PAGE 102








Spock exited the lift and headed for the transporter room. Jim
noted to himself that he had been down here more times than usual
in the past few days. The maintenance crew was working diligently
on repairing the broken unit. Kyle was again on duty, and entreated
the two officers to choose a pad.

"Coordinates are coming through now, Sir," Kyle spoke to his
captain. "Ready to transport."

"Energize, Mr. Kyle."

The two men faded into oblivion, hopefully to be restored to
completeness on board the Klingon warship that faced the
Enterprise.











































PAGE 103



*** SIXTEEN ***



The Imperial Cruiser Fury had intercepted the uncoded
Starfleet message declaring the possibility of 'peace' between the
two opposing powers. It caused a great amount of controversy among
Kang's crew. They, much like their Federation counterparts, were
first struck by unbelief. Kang had told them that it did in fact
appear to be true, but alluded to the fact that there might be
something strangely wrong with the Emperor. He said it in such a
way as to avoid any suspicion of treason. It came out the way Kang
had intended, as concern for his Emperor's well-being. Wanting to
inform them all along of the treacherous evil who now walked the
Throneship Thunder, he satisfied himself with the fact that he was
able to instill an amount of doubt on His Majesty.

Kang could not allow his crew to know that he was actually
'glad' to see the Enterprise. Perhaps this was the ally he had
needed so desperately. He let himself hope that it was so. Though
it would be difficult attempting any co-operative venture with
Captain Kirk, at least the meeting with him would raise no
questions. It had been scheduled with credibility. They would
value any information on the invading ship and the deadly cargo
she cradled.

"Mara, Gor, I will meet with Kirk and his First Officer alone.
You both will stand outside my personal chambers and await my
summons," Kang commanded. The two affirmed his order and followed
him off the bridge to the transporter room. Two images began to
take shape in the dimly lit, strangely hazy room. Captain Kirk
became recognizable with his Number One Officer beside him, then
they were complete.

"Captain Kirk, if pleasantries suit the day, welcome," Kang
said. "I will lead you to a place of privacy, where we may discuss
the matters of invasion and matters of peace."

"Thank you, Captain," Jim said. He and Spock stepped off the
platform and stood beside the Klingon.

"I trust you remember my First Officer, Mara?" Kang asked the
two from the Federation.

"I remember her bravery that rivaled her beauty," the Captain
said, nodding to her. He was tempted to take her hand and kiss it,
just to add an element of finesse to the greeting. She remained
unmoved by the complement, though recognizing the effort on Kirk's
behalf of being cordial.

"This is Gor, my Communications Officer," Kang stated, wanting
to be done with the awkwardness of the introductions. "Gor," Jim
acknowledged. "This is my First Officer, Spock." The Vulcan gave a
slight bow to their Hosts.

"Follow me," Kang stated, ushering them along. He led them

PAGE 104








down a short hall and into a room that looked more like a private
study than a conference room. "That will be all until I notify you
further," Kang spoke to his officers and led Jim and Spock into
the room.

The heavy door closed behind them and Kang stood behind his
desk and eyed the two men for a moment. Debating with himself on
how the discussion should begin, he bid them to be seated as he
took his own. Kang reminded himself of the importance of gaining
Kirk's confidence. One Klingon was no match for the task of halting
the Emperor's crusade. One Klingon was not enough, he admitted to
himself, bruising the famous 'Klingon Pride' he had been bred to
bear.

"Kirk, I am in a position that I am unaccustomed to," Kang
began in all honesty. "I am committing treason with what I am about
to confide in you." He closed his eyes for a moment and pursed his
lips as if he were about to eat something bitter. "I do not find
it easy to give my trust to anyone. I do not give it lightly to
any in the Empire and never to an enemy... until this day." Kang
stopped. He looked deep into Kirk's eyes. He remembered their
ordeal on the Enterprise, months ago. He remembered the Captain's
honor and bravery and came back believing that this man would keep
the trust.

"There is a devil, Captain," Kang stated assuredly.

"I had been told that Klingons have no devil, Kang."

"We have yours now, Kirk," the swarthy Captain said. "He
controls my Empire and he wears the face of my Emperor. He is
now on his way to Earth with words of peace and the weapons of
destruction behind him. He is going to pull this universe and all
in it into war, and then into the hell that only he will rule over."

Jim looked gravely at Spock for confirmation of his own
thoughts. Spock gave him the silent, serious nod of the
affirmative. "Kang, I believe that you have given us the last
piece to a puzzle that has been stumping us for days." If the day
called for honesty, Jim decided that it would be for the best if
he shared the truth with this Klingon. "The devil you call Emperor,
is a dangerous man that has escaped from a Federation mental
institution. His name is Garth of Izar, a former Starfleet
Captain. Once he was an honorable man, but he has been driven
insane by the torment of injuries he had previously sustained. He
is the inventor of a terrible weapon that could be used to destroy
the galaxy."

"I have seen this weapon in use, but the one I speak of is no
ordinary man, Captain Kirk. He is able to 'become' my Emperor. No
mere man could accomplish that," Kang stressed.

"Garth is able to change his form and his voice to that of
anyone. I do not completely understand it but I am telling you the
truth. If he has your Empire, then we all are in grave danger." Jim

placed both hands on the desk before him. Jim did not know the

PAGE 105








extent of the 'truth' that he should share with Kang, but he felt
compelled to give him anything that might help. "Kang, we also have
a powerful man in authority who wants to start this war. We
believe that both he, Garth, and perhaps others of high rank in the
Federation, had arranged this from the beginning. His name is
Commodore Stormcloud." Jim said, knowing he too was committing
treason. "He sent us here, on the surface, to question the Organians
about the destruction of two Federation Outposts. Underneath and
without our knowledge, he had a bomb prepared to blow up Organia
and remove their hand from stopping the war."

"I trust that you have dealt with this bomb. But regardless of
that fact, I do not believe that the Organians will be able to
prevent the war." Kang recalled the recorded speech of the
'Emperor's' plans. He would let the two hear it if necessary.

"That's what the Organians told us! How did you know?"

"I believe that I may be able to provide you with an answer,
Captain." Spock stated confidently. "With the initiation of the
Klingon Empire to the United Federation of Planets, the treaty
would be annulled by the unification of both document signers. If
war was to break out, it would be a 'civil war', a police action,
as Ayelborne pointed out. It would therefore fall under the heading
of internal affairs," Spock concluded.

"Garth had all the angles figured from the start, while we
have been wasting our time chasing our tails!" Jim was enraged at
himself, that it had taken so much time to see this truth, precious
time that may cost the universe dearly.

"Not all the angles, Captain," Spock responded. "He did not
foresee the three of us. We now have the knowledge that he has
tried to keep secret. There is still time to act."

"Not without a plan, Spock, and boy, do we need a good one.
Garth has certainly prepared for this. We haven't." He looked at
his long-time friend. "The time that we do have is precious little."

"Precious little," Kang agreed. "This Garth is already headed
for your home planet, Kirk. He has a head start and certainly will
not be an easy target, and he now has both Federation and Klingon
protection." Kang warned. "The war may start immediately after the
treaty is signed."

"Then we must make sure that he does not sign," Spock stated,
as if it were a solution within itself. "Captain Kang, the
Enterprise is presently unable to transmit on subspace frequencies.
If we were to use your equipment, we might be able to send enough
information to Starfleet Headquarters, apprising them of the
situation and perhaps persuading them to take action."

"If we transmit anything in subspace, my government will know
that it came from this ship. We will be hunted down and killed by
our own countrymen." Kang stated with a surety. "I will, of


PAGE 106







course, accept that fate, but only if you can guarantee that the war
will be halted and leadership of my government returns to its
rightful Emperor."

Jim looked down to his own hands on the table, the hands of a
Starship Captain, too often powerless, too often chained. "I
can't guarantee anything, Kang. I have been told by the Organians
that there will be war." Jim said. "It may not be preventable, but
it might be able to be stopped before it escalates to the point of
no return."

"That is not good enough, Kirk." Kang sat forward in his
chair. "The throne of the Klingon Empire must be restored. This
Garth must be destroyed. Nothing short of that will turn my Empire
from the 'Glory' they have been promised by him."

"I believe that Kang is correct," Spock said to his captain.
"If we are to stop Garth, we will need Garth himself as evidence of
the deception. Our proof of his involvement is largely based on
conjecture. It may be enough to persuade some, but not all. If we
transmit what facts we do have, we will, in essence, 'tip our hand'
to the enemy."

"Then we've got to get to Earth. We must try to stop him
there." Jim said with resolve.

"Captain, with the damage to our ship, warp 4 is our maximum
emergency speed. Garth could be back to the Klingon side of the
Neutral Zone long before we could reach Earth," Spock pointed out
the fact.

"My ship has been strained, but is undamaged. It might be able
to reach your Earth on time," Kang offered as a ray of hope to the
dim future before them. "It could at least give them a good race."

"Kang, until the treaty is signed, your ship would not be
allowed to cross our side of the Zone by the Organians. It would
still be a violation of the Treaty." Jim paused in thought.
"...Unless you were to surrender your vessel to me."

Kang was shocked at the mere mention of such a thing. He knew
that the suggestion was not a surrender under threat of fire, and
it was more of a formality than anything, but it had never been an
option in the past. It was their code to die rather than surrender.
"My crew would never accept it, Kirk. I find it difficult to
stomach, myself."

"If we are worthy of your trust, is not your crew also?"
stated Spock as though it were not a question.

"My crew would not be as easily swayed to deny their loyalty

to the Emperor. We would be hard-pressed to convince them all."

Spock was aware that loyalty would be a difficult hurdle but
knew the attempt must be made. "We have some proof of the deception
that could be made available to them. We have files on Garth,


PAGE 107







explaining his condition, his explosive and his metamorphosis
capabilities. You could present these facts and lead them to the
truthful conclusion." Spock stood from his chair. "I could have
the information compiled and copied in a short amount of time."

"Well, Kang, what do you say?" Jim asked. "All or nothing,
seems to be the 'order of the day'."

Kang became silent. He thought long about all that had
transpired since the day the Fringe Ranger crossed over the Neutral
Zone. He had to do something to stop the flames that were consuming
the very throne of Klinzhai. He could think of no other options
than to fall in with his enemy, to trust Captain James T. Kirk with
the future of the Empire. "I see no alternative. I will take your
evidence and present it to my crew, but it will be their decision
whether or not to mutiny and kill their Commander."

"I'll be there to help." Kirk extended his hand in friendship.
"Let me collect some things of mine and I will return to make the
journey with you."

Kang took his hand and shook it in the 'Earther's' tradition.
He pressed a button and summoned Mara and Gor. "These must be the
first to know the truth. May they assist your First Officer in
gathering the information?"

The two Klingon officers stood before Kang, not having the
vaguest idea as to what their Captain proposed. They could tell,
whatever it was, it was of great import to him.

"They will be welcome," Jim said as he pulled out his
communicator. "Kirk to Enterprise. Four to beam up."

"Keep our trust, Captain. That is all I have left." Kang said
as they were caught by the field wave of the transporter and
disappeared.



* * *



Captain Kirk returned to his cabin aboard the Enterprise.
Time was less a friend than his Klingon counterpart. Jim sat on
his bed and faced the half-wall next to it. There, imbedded
within, was his personal safe. He pressed the proper sequence of
buttons to allow admittance into the small cubbyhole safe. He had
not been in it for weeks and it looked, well, different to him.
The contents seemed to have been altered upon his first glance.
Then he noticed, there in the back, something new to the private
locker.

There was a vellum manuscript, some 40 pages thick, on top of
his medallion case. He removed it carefully, knowing the age-worn
volume was delicate. Gingerly, he opened the cover and saw the


PAGE 108







Latin words on the animal-skin page. Unnoticed by Jim as it fell
to the floor, was a note written in English to the Captain. Jim
looked at the Roman style type on the manuscript, examining the
impressions of each letter with the tips of his fingers. Though
his knowledge of the language was rusty, he recognized the passages
that were before him. He turned it over in his hand, amazed at
what he found. 'Time for this mystery later,' he thought to himself,
and with care, he placed the pages back into his safe.

He removed what he had come in for in the first place. He
looked at the phaser, now in his hand. Remembering the setup of the
Federation Auditorium, he knew there were many stationary weapons
detectors maintaining the Council Member's security. He would
have to modify his phaser setting for an invisible beam, and
'illegally' place his weapon on silent discharge. His aim needed
to be extremely accurate to hit the weapons detectors from a
greater distance than their detection range. At least he would be
granted access to the Council Room by his rank, and then would be
within range of Garth. It was his intention not to be seen by the
man, but merely hit him with a heavy stun beam and let the audience
see who wore the 'Emperor's New Clothes'. When unconscious, as
Spock had proven months ago, Garth would revert back to his own
form.

The chime to his cabin rang. Before he could say 'come in,'
Bones barged into the room.

"Jim, what the heck do you think you are doing!" he said to
'Jim Kirk', his friend, not to 'Captain James T. Kirk'.

"Let me guess," Kirk said, knowing he would be having this
argument with the Doctor sooner or later. "You badgered Spock into
telling you what I had already planned to tell you later?"

"So what if I did? You're about to do one of the most
foolhardy things I can think of in recent history. What makes you
think Kang won't kill you in your sleep, or take you hostage and
hide you somewhere in the Empire?" The Doctor spoke with deep
concern and anger at the very idea.

"Because he needs me, Bones, as much as we need him. If we
don't try this, we will be at war with the Klingons and the
Romulans in a matter of weeks, maybe days." Jim looked at McCoy,
knowing his friend was deeply worried for his sake. "If Garth isn't
stopped now, Bones, we may never get a second chance."

Doctor McCoy looked at him hard and set his jaw. "Why does it
always have to be us who has the weight of the Federation on our
shoulders?" The Doctor asked bitterly. "Why is it always James T.
Kirk who has to put his life on the line for an enemy who would
just as soon kill you as look at you?"

Jim looked at the Doctor, with a compassion that did not
diminish his resolve. "The same reason a Starship's doctor would
risk his own life to save the wife and unborn child of the High
Teer of Capella, or take the place of his friends, allowing himself


PAGE 109







to be tortured by the Vians on Minara. Because, Bones, deep down
we both know that there is nothing in this universe worth living
for... if it is not also worth dying for."

McCoy knew he was as guilty as his Captain when it came to
putting his life on the line. The knowledge didn't help much.
Klingons were too dangerous and untrustworthy to safely deal with
from across the Neutral Zone, not to mention, while among them.

"Jim, you know full well..."

"I'm going Bones," Captain Kirk said. "If you don't have
anything that will help me, then just wish me luck."

Dr. McCoy knew at that moment that he would not be able to
change his friend's mind. He was fairly certain before, but that
did not stop him from trying. McCoy removed the tri-corder from
around his neck and set it on Jim's desk. He also removed a medi-
scanner from his bag, and set it next to the tri-corder.

"I've found something that might help," he stated, somewhat
dejectedly.

"What is it, Bones?"

"I was helping Spock gather his information on Garth for
those... those Klingons," he said with disdain. "While I was, I
discovered something that I hadn't noticed before. Garth has a very
small 'spinal anomaly' for lack of a better word for it. It was
on file in his medical records from Elba II. It was thought to be
a piece of vertebral cartilage that had been fractionated from its
host, during his accident on Antos IV."

"Ok, Bones, I'll take your word for it," the Captain said.
"What about it?"

"The very first time Garth altered his shape to that of
Governor Cory, the guard and attending Doctor who found him in his
cell let him out. The Doctor scanned him for injuries and released
him, thinking it was the Governor. After he was found out to be
Garth in disguise, he was returned to his cell but the medical
record of the doctor's scan was placed in the Governor's file, not
Garth's."

"I'm with you so far. Go on."

"In addition to Garth's file, I have a file on everyone who
was on Elba II, including Governor Cory. While Spock was
concentrating on Garth's file, I was killing time and browsed through
Cory's file. They all appeared to be normal, with the exception of
one entry, where his medical record showed that he had the exact same
'spinal anomaly' as Garth." McCoy looked at Jim, who was trying to
piece the information together. "Jim, Garth can alter his shape,
internally and externally, even his clothing. But this little anomaly
never changes, no matter who he looks like."

"You mean we can trace him by scanning for this 'anomaly,'

PAGE 110








if we need to?"

"Yes, Jim. With this medical scanner, if you are close enough.
You can see the reading on the tri-corder and be able to identify
him if he changes shape to hide or get away."

"That is helpful, Bones. What is the range on this thing?" Jim
asked.

"Without the tri-corder, about one meter. But with it, I have
been able to stretch the sensor output to 15 meters with accuracy,"
the doctor said with a small amount of pride.

"Very good. I just hope I get a chance to be that close to
him."

"That's not all, Jim," the Doctor said. "I believe what the
other doctor's thought was cartilage on Garth's spine, is really
the 'organ' that allows Garth to change shape. If it is, then once
Garth is captive the organ can be removed."

"There are a lot of if's, Doctor, but if things work out, I'll
make sure the attending physician is aware of that fact," Jim said,
placing the phaser to his hip. "It's about time to go," he
announced, none too eagerly.

"Jim," the Doctor said as the Captain picked up the medical
equipment. "For God's sake, be careful."

"For my own sake as well, Bones. I'll see you in two weeks or
so," he said to his friend. And they both left the cabin, each
heading in the opposite direction, down the corridor.

Spock met Jim in the transporter room with the two Klingon
guests. They had their hands full of information that would, with
any luck, prove to the crew of the Fury that their Emperor was not
from the Klingon Realm.

"They are ready, Captain," Spock stated. "Both are now
convinced, themselves, and ready for the task at hand."

"It will not be easy," Jim said to the two, "but now you
realize the cost of failure."

They both looked at the Captain with all seriousness. The
gravity of the situation had been instilled within them and they
seemed to be prepared to face the day.

"Captain," Spock began, "I request that I take your place
aboard the Klingon vessel. I am quite capable of carrying out the
mission, and am not indispensable. Logically the Captain should not
be displaced from his ship for any prolonged length of time, and
certainly not placed at such risk."

"I will neither order, nor allow any Officer to take part in,
what we both agree is a 'treasonous activity' when I am perfectly

PAGE 111








capable of doing it myself." The statement did not come out as the
Captain had intended it, but Spock understood what was meant by it.
"Besides," Jim said, "you have a mission of your own. Stormcloud
must be arrested, and the evidence of Garth's deception must be
taken to the Neutral Zone. Since you are limited to warp 4, it
doesn't give you any time to stand around arguing with your
Captain."

"Agreed, Captain." He stepped back from the transporter
platform.

"And, Spock, you might see what you can 'make' out of
Lieutenant Grensk," Jim hinted, "His 'heart' may not be in it, but
he'd make a good 'Weapon's Officer' in a pinch."

"Understood, Captain." Spock raised his right hand in the
traditional Vulcan salute. "Live long and prosper, Jim."

"Good bye, Spock," Jim said. Then to Lieutenant Kyle,

"Energize," and the Captain and his company, were no more.




































PAGE 112



*** SEVENTEEN ***



Earth was in its mid 23rd century, as counted from the
approximate birth date, of their Christ. The inhabitants of this
beautiful planet had nearly destroyed themselves numerous times
throughout their bloody 6000 year history. Most recently their
greatest planetary dilemma was tackling the fear of a gradual
'Global Warming'. They had spent nearly one-hundred years of effort
in an attempt to replenish the Ozone layer, only to find that there
was no real 'warming' taking place. The genuine problem was that
increasing amounts of deadly multi-spectrum radiation had been
entering the atmosphere, slowly irradiating the planet. The primary
cause was found to be in the Earth's sphere of Magnetism. With a
magnetic half-life of just 1,400 years (that is; every 1,400 years
the magnetism, or Magnetic Moment of the Earth decreases in potency
by one half) neither the Magnetosphere nor Thermosphere could
effectively hinder cosmic radiation bombardment. There were many
heated debates on how to handle this. It had come just short of
dividing the United Nations Council, but that was nothing new.

Many civilizations had arisen and fallen, since man had begun
to govern himself on this small world. But few had envisioned the
latest form that now had authority over the globe. The United
Nations Council, permanent member of the United Federation of
Planets was now that authority.

The Official Base of Operations of the United Federation of
Planets now resided on the human's world. It had, in the past, been
aboard an enormous space station, that was capable of holding tens
of thousands of people. It later became more effective,
logistically, to establish the base on a world, central to all
members. Earth was an ideal choice, though it was not unilaterally
thought so at first. Debates for the location lasted nine months
before concessions were made. It now resided on Earth, in the city
of San Francisco.

As reflected by Starfleet's Prime Directive, all worlds allied
with the Federation have rights to their own form of planetary
government. The Federation was an authoritative bridge between
these governments. Its primary purpose was to maintain
interplanetary peace and security between all races of beings
within, and provide protection from hostile beings from without.
Starfleet was the instrument of this security within Federation
bounds.

The sprawling complex, that was Federation Headquarters, now
sits on some 1400 square acres. It boasts many atmospheric/
gravitational controlled domes, that may be filled with whatever
gas or liquid, any particular visiting dignitary would require, for
respiration. It contains housing that would suit representatives
of all members and their aides, attending conference sessions. It
intentionally was designed to accommodate all known species that
were candidates for membership, and was prepared, at a moment's
notice, to adjust to unknown 'future' memberships.

PAGE 113








This day, all over the UFP complex, frenzied activity was
evident. To actually have the Klingon Emperor present on the planet
was something that had surprised and astounded all. For them to
express the desire for admittance to the Federation was nothing
short of incredible. This was now seen as the most important event
in galactic history, since the end of the Hundred Years War.

Preparation for the Emperor's arrival, on such short notice,
caused near chaos. All UFP Supreme Assembly members had been called
to Earth. All Federation Council members, temporary or otherwise,
were requested to attend. Every party who could cast their vote
was either on Earth now, or enroute to the planet.

Excitement and fear were mingling in the minds and hearts of
all beings throughout the Federation. For Peace with the Klingons,
they knew, could mean immediate War with the Romulans. To some,
this idea was a godsend. Finally a way to be rid of the ever
present danger of invasion, from the Vulcanoid empire. To others,
reconciliation with the Klingons was inconceivable. The evil that
had been perpetrated by them was not forgivable by many.
Notwithstanding, the Emperor was on his way, and he would be given
full honors. His admittance to the United Federation of planets,
on the other hand, would be dealt with in its proper forum.

A two-thirds vote would be required to pass the request for
entry to the Federation. With the import of the request, and the
urgency of it, deliberations would be held to a two day time limit
after the Emperor's speech/request for admission. There were 3
possibilities, that would be an immediate outcome of this historic
event. One, the Empire would become part of the Federation. Two,
the Empire would not become part of the Federation. Or three,
massive political turmoil would ensue from either vote and the
result would split the Federation, plunging it into multiple wars
and galactic chaos. This was truly an event that could change the
Federation forever. One which could easily spell the end of it.
But that had been the plan all along.



* * *



It had taken days, at high warp, to reach the Sol system. The
massive Klingonese Dreadnought took its place in orbit around the
blue world below. Many, many others shared the sky with the
behemoth. The firmament fairly teemed with strange and various
craft of both familiar and alien design. The Throneship had been
allowed to raise its shields, just as a precaution, in self-
defense against any who would take opportunity against it. There
are many who would joyfully promote the erasure of the Klingon
Empire's most prominent citizen. There were a great deal more who
would like to see it happen, without being directly involved.

Garth stood at his massive observation window, looking on the
world below. His arms were folded behind his back and his stance

PAGE 114








was one belonging to the victorious. He would own this planet soon,
he thought. One of many that would bear his name. Garth Prime he
would call it. The others would have numbers beside his name. He
continued to meditate on the future. There would be attempts on his
life at every corner, once he took his throne over the galaxy. He
would be prepared for attack, be it by a fleet of ships or on a
personal scale. There were many levels of plans that he had
devised, many twists and turns that he prepared for. Though he was
certain all the while, that nothing could stop what he had set in
motion.

Someone requested entry into his private chamber. Garth
quickly, easily, regained the form of Mocdar Jek Tromok, and
allowed the door to unlock and open for the caller. Sorr entered
the large room that was adorned with weapons, strange animal skins
and objects of antiquity from a thousand systems. He walked over to
his emperor and kneeled before the man at the window.

"Rise and state your purpose, Admiral," spoke Garth. He
wished to be kneeled to, but not as the Klingon Emperor.

"I wanted to inform you that your new warp-shuttle, will be
quite difficult to engineer, but it is technologically feasible.
It will be time consuming with all your specifications, but
modifications of your current shuttle should not take more than 9
days if we have our technicians working on it around the clock.
Your new armor should take about as long," he concluded.

The Admiral was beginning to wonder about the man before whom
he had been kneeling. Tromok had given him a design to a powerful,
armored battle suit, and shuttle craft that was nearly beyond their
present level of technology. The Emperor had been schooled well,
but he was never considered to hold more than a general knowledge
of sub-micro circuitry, dyna-physics and Alpha wave hyper-
processors. It was as if the man on the throne had changed into
some one different.

"Good," spoke Emperor Garth, quite aware of the Admiral's
slowly growing suspicion of himself. Garth had further secluded
himself from all aboard the Thunder, these past days. It had
helped to the degree that he had desired. Soon it would not
matter. "When does the Federation's Supreme Assembly expect me?"

"In two of their Earth hours, my lord. The last of their
delegates are just now arriving. They have had very little time to
prepare for this day."

Garth knew full well the paces he was running the Federation
through. 'Keep them busy with their bureaucratic details,' he
thought to himself. 'Let them engross themselves with policy and
hastily choreographed procedure, then, when they are feeling the
swell of false euphoria for a job well done, I will have them by
the throat'. "Is there anything else, Admiral?" the image of Tromok
questioned.

"Nothing more to report, lord Tromok," The Admiral stated. "I,

PAGE 115








however, was wondering what will become of the intruder and his
ship? Did you concede to bargain with him?"

"I will personally deal with the intruder, immediately upon
our return to the Klingon Realm. As to the bargain, his price was
too high for the Empire. I have postponed payment until our return.
For now, his ship has our protection. That is all you need know."

"Understood, lord Tromok. Our plan must not have been
effective," Sorr said with a solemn certainty. "I blame myself for
its failure."

"There is still time for victory, Sorr. And plenty of glory to
share," the Emperor stated.

The Admiral nodded his head in agreement. "Lord, I must know,
did my glove unit not work?"

Garth had no idea. He really didn't care and he would not be
trapped into making a guess on how to answer the question again. "I
have a galaxy to claim, Admiral. We will discuss this later if I
deem it important enough. You are dismissed."

"Yes, my lord," the Admiral bowed and exited the large room.
Garth relaxed his control over his form and returned to the
visage of his own. He would need every bit of strength to maintain
the Emperor guise on Earth. And he did not know how long he would
need to look the part. It was made slightly easier, now that he had
Tromok's actual wardrobe to wear. Thus he only needed to force his
flesh to look the part.

He walked over to the giant view-port again, taking in the
spectacular sunrise on the planet below. This would be his morning,
his day and when night fell it would be his darkness. He leaned
his face against the clear barrier, between himself and the hard
vacuum beyond. He stretched his arms out and closed his eyes,
letting the first rays of the dawn enfold him. He smiled at the
warmth of it and he began to chuckle to himself.



* * *



First Officer's Log, Stardate: 5854.7.

"I am now the 'Acting' Captain of the Starship Enterprise.
Captain James T. Kirk is currently aboard, and in command of, the
Klingon vessel Fury, on a direct heading for Earth. We are
presently heading for the rendezvous point of the Federation Fleet
at the Klingon Neutral Zone. It is my intention, upon arrival, to
place Commodore Nathaniel Stormcloud under arrest for attempted
murder, treason, and conspiracy charges. The evidence for this
action is on file in main computer memory location: SO193622."


PAGE 116








"We are traveling at warp 3.779, which is our maximum safe
speed due to the previously logged accident in engineering. With
this limit on our rate of travel, I have serious doubts that we
will arrive in time at the rendezvous site before war breaks out.
It is hoped, nevertheless, that we will be able to stop it before
it reaches an irreversible state."

"In the interim, I have been working on arming a photon
torpedo with the majority of the Garth explosive that was removed
from the Android, formerly know as Lieutenant Grensk. If needed,
it will make an impressive display of power on behalf of the
Federation. With Stormcloud under guard, the knowledge that 'the
torpedo is the only one we have', may be secure. Thus spurring the
Klingons into believing that we have more in our arsenal."

"Commander Montgomery Scott is now back on the active duty
roster, but it is clear that there is no hope of repairing the
damage to Enterprise's port warp propulsion unit. We are, in
essence, crippled for the duration."

"As a Vulcan, it is difficult to determine what level of
morale the crew is enjoying. It is my estimate that it has lowered
considerably with the absence of Captain Kirk. I am personally
unskilled at dealing with problems of this nature, as it is one
derived from emotion. I have placed Mr. Sulu in charge of
organizing various off-duty activities for the crew. I suggested to
him that a seminar on gravitational and radiation fluctuations
within a trinary star system, could both occupy and enlighten the
crew. He did not seem to agree. I have, therefore, given him my
permission to engage the crew in an Earth ritual known as a Masked
Ball. I will attend this 'Ball', but I have allowed Mr. Sulu to
make the decision as to what costume I should wear."

"End log."

Spock sat in the Captain's chair, examining the duty roster
that Yeoman Rand had given him. He saw that all was in order,
placed his mark on it and returned it to the Yeoman. "Thank you,"
he said to her, conscious that humans needed to hear this verbal
expression of gratitude, even when doing what was required of them.

Spock meditated on how he would handle the arrest of Commodore
Stormcloud. It was a danger to even approach the fleet, for in
doing so, Stormcloud would be able to assess the failure of
Enterprise's mission and perhaps turn the fleet against her. They
were not able to alert the fleet of their intentions in advance,
with Sub-space communications, so they would have to use the short
range comm. system. In essence, this would mean that they would be
within firing distance, before they would have the ability to voice
the act of the Commodore's imminent detention.

Spock had given Lt. Checkov the task of repositioning the
Enterprise's aft, port and starboard shield-nodes to the front of
the ship. He assigned him an engineering detail to assist him for
that purpose. Spock had hopes that the quadrupled shield barrier to
the fore-section would protect them from a possible frontal assault

PAGE 117








by their own comrades. It could buy them enough time to make the
arrest, but would leave them open to lateral and rear attack from
any comers. Spock was not certain that Captain Kirk would approve
of this tactic. It was not completely logical, to be sure, but
Spock's desire to see Stormcloud brought to justice and a war
stopped, had motivated him. It was very much like a chess strategy
he had recently learned. He wished he had a guarantee that it would
work.

"Checkov to Bridge. Mr Spock, ve are ready to test da shield
integrity," the voice from the overhead speaker said.

"Acknowledged," spoke the Acting-Captain. "Mr. Sulu, raise
shields."

"Aye, Sir, raising shields," he said and executed the
procedures that brought the energy barriers up.

The bridge lights dimmed for a moment, then regained their
brilliance. "Shields are up, Sir, Quadruple front. Should I test
them at maximum power?" the Oriental officer questioned.

"Yes, Mister Sulu, channel full power to the shields."

Sulu increased the shield energy-strength with the controls
before him. The bridge lights dimmed again, and then completely
went out. "Uhmmm, Mr. Spock? I think I've overloaded the
circuits."

"That is all too obvious, Mr. Sulu," Spock stated, as the much
dimmer emergency lighting kicked in. "Mr. Checkov? Are you still
there?"

"Yes, Sir," the ensign said sheepishly.

"It appears that the power cable split at the main junction is
not the most advantageous solution. I suggest that you start the
engineering crew in hooking up three more junctions directly from
the master panel."

"Aye, Sir. Ve vere just tinking about doing dat," the ensign
said.

"Proceed, Mr. Checkov. Spock out."

First Officer's log, supplemental.

"It is my hope that the Captain will return to the
Enterprise as rapidly as possible."

End supplemental log.



* * *


PAGE 118








Captain Kirk sat in Kang's private quarters, behind his desk
and glanced over the information on the tri-corder, given to him by
Dr. McCoy. He contemplated the procedure that both Mara and Kang
had devised, in order to transport him down to the planet, when
they arrived at Earth. If they uncloaked, they would be shot from
the sky as 'hostile' enemies to both parties. The transporters
would not have enough power to beam him down, with the cloaking
device engaged. Therefore, it was decided to channel the Warp
engine power through the transporter and beam the Captain down at
warp speed. It had never been done before.

James T. Kirk was now the Captain of the Klingon cruiser. A
fact that had not been widely spread throughout the crew. The ship
was now divided in its loyalty, among the members who had been
enlightened to their Emperor's identity. A mere handful gave their
continued loyalty to Kang. It was a very dangerous situation for
the vessel.

Jim, Kang, Mara and Gor had held several sessions with crew
members, illustrating the danger that both Empire and Federation
were facing. Only a dozen had believed. The rest were now in direct
opposition to Kang, and were preparing to take the ship. They were
lead by the officer, Torvak. The opposition held two of the lower
decks but were, for the moment, sealed in and temporarily
contained. It was thought prudent by all to keep Jim's status as
Commander of the Fury, a secret, to avoid further division among
the crew.

Jim pressed the medical scanner's 'on' switch and looked at
the readings on the tri-corder. They displayed typical human
readings for a brief period, then jumped to radically different
readings as the cabin's doors unbolted and parted, admitting both
Kang and Mara. Jim looked at the readings, then up to the two. He
shut the medical equipment off and rose to meet the two.

"Captain," Kang began, "there is no hope of arriving at your
home planet in time. We shall be lucky if we reach Earth before the
Thunder breaks orbit."

"We must, Kang. Our plan will only work if we catch him in the
open, with as many witnesses around him as possible."

"There is the increasing danger that we may not reach your
Earth at all," Mara spoke bluntly. "Our comrades are taking
measures that may cripple our engines. It is possible that they
will break through our barriers and storm this deck."

"I have never doubted that possibility, Lieutenant," Jim said,
giving credit to his formidable enemy; his new crew. "Kang, have
you distributed arms to our men?"

"Yes, Captain, but I caution you that it is unwise to limit
our disrupter's fire power, to stun-force. If the 'others' have
found a way to arm themselves, they will intend to kill us with
their weapons."


PAGE 119








"You suggest we use deadly force against your own crewmen?"
Jim spoke his astonishment.

"I have no desire to shed Klingon blood, Captain," Kang stated
in stern sincerity, "but we risk failure and perhaps death at their
hands if we show weakness of any kind. They are honored and
valiant brothers and they fight as I do, for the sake of the
Empire. Yet I will sacrifice them all with a clean conscience, if
needs be, to save my Empire. They would do no less. That makes
them all the more dangerous."

"I don't want any needless deaths, Kang. All we need is to
contain them for a few more hours." The thought was cut short as
an explosion from the deck below rocked the ship from under them,
casting all to the floor. Shouts of battle were heard in the
distance as Jim regained his ground. "They're through the
barricade!" he said drawing his phaser from behind his back.

"They'll head straight for the bridge!" shouted Kang, as he
lifted his wife to her feet and dashed out of the room. Jim
followed closely, running down the dim, and now, smoke filled hall.
Both held their weapons tight in hand and slowed, as they neared
the bend in the corridor. Shadows of movement could be seen
through the smoke, but Jim could not tell who it was that made
them. Suddenly a disrupter blast sliced through the haze and burned
itself into the wall behind them. The heat of the beam was felt on
Kirk's face.

Jim dropped low and fired three times, with the silent,
invisible discharge of his weapon. Kang turned, knowing by the
disturbance in the smoke, that Jim had returned fire.

"You use a coward's weapon, Kirk. Where is the honor in
felling an enemy, when he cannot even detect the threat?"

"I suppose the 'honor' comes from knowing that my weapon won't
kill, but their's will. The honor of the outgunned." Jim said
clicking off two more shots into the thick, dark clouds.

Kang acquiesced with a nod, and pressed his back against the
corridor's smooth wall. He peered around the bend, then quickly
pulled back, as several bursts of the deadly light beams streaked
past him. "I can't see who it is we fight! It could be our side."

"Switch to wide spread. We can take them all down, and sort
through them afterwards!"

The two men adjusted their weapons and rounded the corner, Jim
down low on one knee and Kang, standing beside him. They blanketed
the hall with the stunning energy beams, knowing that some would be
missed by ducking into an entry-way or by shielding themselves with
fallen bodies. Both Captains slowly moved down the hall, finding
several un-conscious crewmen, lying still, on the deck.

Kang looked at their faces as they made their way past the
crewmen. "These are of the opposition. We were fortunate thus

PAGE 120









far," Kang said. Another deadly blue disrupter bolt shot between
the two. They raised their weapons again, and fired, hugging the
walls of the corridor as they slowly advanced. The din of muffled
voices and distant shouts did not seem to be getting any nearer.
Kang was, however, able to hear the battle cry of his
Communications Officer Gor, holding the bridge from the opposition.
Kang began to hasten their advance, for he knew that the odds would
be at least 3 to 1 against Gor and the others on the bridge.

More downed crewmen were found in the murky darkness as
they neared the main access-way to the bridge. Thick dark smoke
billowed out of the once-barricaded companionway. The air handlers
were blowing the black clouds away from the bridge, making
visibility much better once they were past the travel chute. It
also made both Kirk and Kang visible to the rear of the mutinous
crewmen.

Gor, seeing them in the distance, behind the opposition
forces, howled another battle cry, drawing attention to himself.
Before Jim and Kang were seen, they fired on the crowd, and
continued to fire until all were downed. Quickly, the two checked
the crewmen for wounds and made certain that none were merely
'playing' dead. Gor came towards them, unsteadily, leaving a trail
of thick Klingon blood behind him.

"Captain Kang," Gor managed weakly, "we... have prevailed."

"You are wounded." Kang looked at his friend of years. The
side of the Officer's head was scorched by the intense heat of a
narrow miss, but Kang saw the dark purple-red blood spilling out
from under his breastplate. He could tell in an instant that the
wound was fatal. "Sit, my friend." Kang grabbed Gor's shoulders and
eased him to the deck.

Jim looked at Kang. This man had once been a hated enemy. It
was not long ago that Jim had thought Klingons were incapable of
the compassion he was now a witness to. His eyes met Kang's. Jim
silently expressed the look of hopefulness towards his ally, but
Kang shook his head in a solemn response. Jim nodded to Kang that
he understood, and would offer his condolences later, but the
bridge was still open to attack, and not all crewmen were accounted
for. Jim stepped over another body and headed for the bridge
entrance, disappearing inside.

"Die well, my friend," Kang whispered to Gor, cradling his
comrade's head in steady hands.

"You will not do the same!" spat a familiar voice, from behind
Kang.

"You have lost, Torvak," Kang stated without turning from the
dying man. "Our brother has paid the price for your mutiny. There
is no need for further payment from either side."

"I think you are mad, my former Captain, but in the least, you
are incorrect."

PAGE 121







Kang looked up at his once eager, once innocent helmsman. He
saw Mara being held to Torvak's chest, a barbed razor sharp blade
at her throat. Kang's heart froze in that instant. Ejhak poison
dripped from the jagged edges of the knife.

"Mara will die, slowly, horribly, before your eyes," Torvak
promised the man before him. "Unless I have my victory for the
people of Klinzhai!"

There was only one person who could be held against Kang, who
could make him choose defeat over his Empire's salvation. He had
lived with the fact that she could lose her life in battle, a brave
death that they would share, but not like this. He had once been
able to lie to Jim Kirk about that point. Long ago he had
convinced Kirk that Mara was not a bargaining chip to be
considered. His ploy bore fruit on that day, but Torvak would know
better.

Kang looked at his wife and took a deep breath. "I... yield,"
he said, dropping his weapon to the deck and lowering his head
slowly in grudging defeat.

"The only Klingon who yields, is a dead one, my Captain!"
Torvak spoke with victorious pride. "You may take your own life
now, and die as a coward, or you may follow your beloved Mara."

"Torvak," Mara tried to turn towards her captor, but was held
fast by his powerful arm, "I beg you, do not do this." She held
back most of her tears with great resolve. "I will do anything for
his life, but spare him this, this indignity!"

"Silence, my wife!" Kang commanded her, then to the man who
held her. "I will slay myself as you will, Torvak. But not
before you swear to me that Mara will neither be harmed, nor even
touched by you again!"

"I should not even consider making a bargain with one such as
you." He looked at his former Captain with hate at what he had
become, a traitor to the Glorious Empire. "But I give you my honor
bound word that it shall be as you require. NOW TAKE YOUR LIFE!"

Kang looked to his wife as he removed his own dagger from the
thigh scabbard he wore. Mara could not restrain herself and
struggled, futilely against Torvak. Kang placed the hilt of the
dagger on the deck, holding it with both hands and aiming the tip
skyward. Klingon suicide was usually done in this fashion. The
ritual was simple. Kang would drop his head forcefully down upon
the blade, driving it far into his skull. Kang closed his eyes,
keeping the image of his wife in his mind. He erected himself,
preparing to thrust his head downward, when he heard a heavy thud.
Opening his eyes, he saw Mara standing alone, Torvak sprawled on
the floor behind her.

Kang rose in anger, throwing the blade into the corridor's
nearest bulkhead and turned around to see Kirk, still holding the
phaser, standing in the doorway to the bridge. "You certainly took
your time!" Kang said in a fury that he had been unable to direct

PAGE 122








at Torvak. "I was nearly upon my blade!"

"Sorry, Kang," Jim said in earnest. "I never saw a Klingon
suicide before and didn't realize that I was seeing one until a
moment before I fired."

Mara fell to the floor in a faint, distracting Kang's anger
and drawing him to her. Jim stepped over and looked at the bodies
lying on the deck, then rubbed his hands together. "Well we'd
better be getting these men tied up soon, or we will have to go
through this all over again."

"Is the bridge secured?" Kang asked over his shoulder.

"Yes," Jim said. "We are nearing the innermost systems of the
Federation. We should reach Earth in forty hours."

Jim looked down at the fallen warriors, both the living and
the lifeless, and was instantly filled with a sense of dread. 'The
first men to fall, perhaps of many,' he thought to himself. 'And
the galaxy may never be the same.'




































PAGE 123



*** EIGHTEEN ***



Earth: UFP Headquarters, Supreme Assembly Hall.
Stardate: 5857.4

Ambassadors from a multitude of worlds were present in the
largest room of the stadium sized building. Alien races, both rare
and familiar, filled their delegated seats of Federation member
representation. They waited in silence as the President of the
Assembly entered the stage and walked purposefully to his podium.
The expression on his face betrayed the gravity of the
circumstances which the Federation was about to face. His eyes
looked heavy, and all knew that with the intense effort in
preparation for this meeting, sleeplessness was one thing they all
had in common. The President of the Assembly came to a stop behind
the dais with the presidential emblem on it. He faced his audience
with grace, as if addressing old friends.

"Welcome, all races of the Federation," greeted the President,
"to this, the most critical hour of our time. We have been forced
into a position which could bring either galactic peace or
unparalleled chaos to all worlds represented here."

He looked upon the multitude of faces, seeing old friends and
acquaintances, beings to whom his respect had been given and some
of whom his respect had been strained. Sarek of Vulcan was seated
in the front row. It gave great comfort to the President, seeing
his friend, knowing the Ambassador would promote stability in all
decision making.

"Unfortunately, there is not much time for a formal
deliberation of all factors concerned in this matter. Neither is
there time to determine what consequences our decision here today
will result in. The future ramifications of this day cannot be
foretold, and I find myself feeling that we are caught between the
hammer and the anvil, by our own directives."

"Though I am aware of the danger of hasty judgements, I do not
believe that we have the ability to hold off this vote of
admittance to the Federation. We must bear that in mind as the
Royal Emperor of the Klingon Realm speaks. I therefore admonish you
all, hear his words, remember who he is and what he represents.
Weigh everything you know about him with all he says and decide
within yourselves the answer to the question; do we allow the
Klingon people admittance into the Federation? Yes or no?"

A bright blue light on the podium flashed, indicating that
the Emperor was preparing to transport. "This is perhaps the most
important vote that will ever be held in this Assembly. I do not
have any advice to offer as to the direction that your vote should
go, I merely ask you this; We desire peace for all worlds, with
all worlds, but what price are we willing to pay for it? We hold
friendship with all civilized races in the highest esteem, but are
there races that, by their own actions, demonstrate that they are

PAGE 124








not yet worthy of our trust?" He looked out over the silent crowd.
They respected the man who spoke these historic words. The
President was certain that they would do what was not merely in
their various world's best interest, but equitable to all.

The President pressed the yellow button next to the flashing
blue button on his podium's console. "It is now my honor to
introduce and also greet for the first time in history, the Emperor
of the Klingon Empire." Behind him and to the left, a transporter
wave began to shimmer and hum. It took the form of the man who all
believed was the Klingon Emperor. With him were Admiral Sorr and
his Imperial Guard. "I present to the Supreme Assembly
Delegates, His Highness, Emperor Mocdar Jek Tromok, of The
Klingon Empire."

The President turned to the Emperor and bowed low, with his
hand extended towards the dais, indicating to His Highness that he
may now address the Assembly. After the President erected himself
he indicated that the Assembly may now stand and salute their guest
in the fashion of their own home worlds. This caused much clamor as
the delegates rose to salute, or bow, or spit, or honk, or wheeze
or whatever salutation was called for from their planet.

The President saw the Emperor smile upon the crowd indicating
friendliness, or was it one of mockery? He was uncertain, never
having met this Monarch before. His intellect told him Tromok was
being cordial. His gut feeling, however, was to brace himself for
attack. In the end he wrote it off as a hormonal reaction to another
rival male, one which had physical, intellectual and legislative
power that was at least equal to himself.

The Emperor offered a Klingon salute to the Assembly, then
turned towards the President and saluted him as well. He stepped
over to the podium, flanked on both sides by the Ramjep Avwi and
trailed by Sorr. The eyes were Tromok's, but it was Garth who
looked at the vast number of beings facing him. The tribute they
paid the Emperor was nothing to Garth, nothing but a taste of what
he would soon receive when it was Lord Garth they saluted. He took
the last step to the dais and rested his large hands on each side,
gripping it, and feeling the firmness of it.

"Fellow beings of the known Galaxy," The Emperor's
powerful voice echoed throughout the room, "I come to you, not in
mere friendship, but as one of you who now understands the true
meaning of what you stand for. I speak as one who sees the wisdom
and honor of this galactic brotherhood you collectively have forged
and now share." He suppressed the smile of the wolf, and expressed
the false face of an earnest man.

"We, as a people, are guilty of many things. Things that may
not be easy to forgive. But it is in the spirit of forgiveness
that I address you today. And it is forgiveness that I am compelled
to request from you and extend to you in return." Garth allowed the
Emperor to eat his crow before all to see. It was the most
difficult obstacle he had foreseen himself facing, but he consoled
himself with the knowledge that all actors must sometime play the

PAGE 125








fool. It did not alter who he was; it did not lessen him.

"We have been holding fast to traditions that have spanned
several millennia. Traditions that had purposes of self-
preservation, self-reliance and, unfortunately, self-righteousness.
But this is all we knew. This was all we were given by our
progenitors. Pride unparalleled in ourselves, and a dim view at
best, towards all others," he said, making allowances for the
Klingons that he both ruled and hated.

"Peace was nothing but an outdated religion to us and for good
reason; we had no living example of peace, apart from merciless
domination to obtain it. Peace at the point of a sword, not by
reciprocal accordance." He looked up at the ceiling, and closed his
eyes, pretending that the admission of his guilt had personally
effected him.

He opened his eyes once more and again regarded the audience.
"We have seen the example of peace in your Federation for some time
now. We had thought that we could eventually dominate you," he
stated with fraudulent regret at the notion, "or that through this
'peace', you would become weak and that the Federation would
crumble out from beneath you. My father had said as much. I myself
have been known to speak the saying... But not so!"

He spoke more boldly now, and with not just a hint of
conviction expressed for his listener's benefit. "It is a breach in
custom that I and my people should come to you this glorious day.
But if a custom is all that hinders peace, it is a custom far too
long observed! My fellow beings, I am not my father, who was a
great and noble man, but a man who would not see farther than the
bounds of tradition. The relationship between our peoples must
change, in the name of peace! And I have seen that it must start
with us! I do not petition you to join my Empire. I, as First
Ruler of all Klinzhai, request to be joined with you. To establish
a New Age of Peace, a New United Federation of Planets!"

Most of the crowd was astounded at what they saw and heard.
They had not thought it possible that the Klingon monarch could
even speak these words, and certainly not with such conviction.
Many were completely beguiled by his apparent sincerity, deeply
moved by his personal realization of the shortcomings that his
people's traditional view held. Most were stirred by his vision of
joining, of uniting the galaxy as one brotherhood under the flag of
the Federation. Sarek of Vulcan, was not one of them.

Sarek was among a minority of men who could not be swayed by
lofty words that spoke almost solely to the emotions of men. On the
other hand, he could not discount the Emperor's efforts towards
peace either. He merely would not be swayed into voting for the
admission of the Klingon Empire based upon one man's speech or by a
crowd that most probably would. The President was of a similar
mind.

"I will not lie to you," The Emperor continued. "We had the
inclination to declare war on you when we found that you had

PAGE 126








created a weapon of incredible destructive power. We had first
thought that you were testing it on an outpost bordering the
Federation Neutral Zone. But when the ship crossed over and we
encountered it, it became apparent that this was a rogue ship with
intentions of its own. We disposed of this ship, but not without
casualties of our own." Garth was pridefully, masterfully
maneuvering his audience into believing that the Federation should
be indebted to the Empire, not only for destroying an enemy to both
governments and paying for it in Klingon blood, but for giving the
Federation the benefit of the doubt, assuming, that the Federation
was innocent of the aggression, while allowing them to feel the
guilt within themselves for their suspicion of the Empire.

"I do not believe that I am able to demonstrate the sincerity
of my words in any greater fashion than to offer to you the people
of my Empire as members of the Federation. It is my hope that
you are in agreement to this, but if you are not... we shall keep
to ourselves, and not continue to be a burden to you any further
in galactic matters. My Empire will expand! But if it is not
hand-in-hand with you, it will be away from you, and certainly
either away from, or against the Romulan Empire! I will await your
decision from my ship. I thank you!"

A cheer arose from all corners of the auditorium, swelling to
nearly deafening levels. The Emperor turned to a somewhat
bewildered President, and extended his large hand in a gesture of
friendship.

The President took his hand in his and shook it, feeling the
strength of it and hearing the cheers become even louder. The
President cocked his head, ever so slightly. He looked into the
eyes of the Klingon and saw something disturbing. He was not sure
what he saw that moment, but it worried him. Then his attention
was drawn away from the Emperor to the Assembly delegates. He was
able to hear, deep within the cheering masses, many angry cries of
dissension. 'Regardless of the direction that the decision made
today takes, the vote may split the Federation,' he thought to
himself as he watched the Emperor step over to his beam-down location
and disappear with the rest of his entourage.

"Gentle beings," the President said, trying to regain order in
the great hall, "gentle beings!" He put both hands in the air in
order to quell the commotion. He walked over to the podium, where
he could be more easily seen and heard. "We must not let the
emotion of the moment force us to rush headlong into a vote
without careful consideration. The Emperor's speech is now being
sent to each delegate's terminal, for your further review. In
addition, all preliminary information and data which should be taken
into account is included in the transmission. Please review this
documentation carefully over the next two hours. Deliberation will
commence at 1300 hours. The vote will be held at 1200 hours two
days hence, after all members have taken advantage of their 10
minute floor time. Until then, I thank you."

The President's confidence in the delegates was greatly shaken
by their uproarious outburst of a moment ago. Sensibility seemed

PAGE 127








to be driven from them by the Emperor's speech, coupled with the
tremendous fear of invasion from the Romulan Empire, fear that
could cause much of the Federation members to gladly make a bargain
with the Devil, completely disregarding the price of such a
bargain. The President also detected the evidence of a 'willing
blindness' to rationale as the Emperor offered them a hope, and an
answer, to their fears of war. The confusion of the past few days
was maddening. It was as if a dark tide was moving the Federation
purposefully towards the center of a whirlpool, to be drawn down
into an abyss.















































PAGE 128






















Star Trek: "BEFORE DESTRUCTION!"


A NOVEL BY MICHAEL D. ROSSI
















*Star Trek is a Registered Trademark of Paramount Pictures
Copyright 1991, by Michael Rossi



*** NINETEEN ***



Stardate 5859.4

Captain James T. Kirk stood on the glowing transporter
platform in the bowels of the still-cloaked Klingonese vessel. He
pulled the flat, palm-sized 'Phaser 1' from the top of his 'Phaser
2' pistol grip, and slid it inside his tri-corder's pouch. He then
placed the medi-scanner in his pocket, feeling the flat square
already inside it that was Spock's still-unread log entry
concerning Flint. He looked at Mara who was standing behind the
transporter controls, then tossed the pistol grip to the deck.

"Are we ready to energize?" Jim asked her.

"Not yet, but we will be in range soon," she said to her
commanding officer. She was still not used to following the orders
of this human, but she now had great admiration for the man. "Your
chances of making it down alive are still not favorable," she
added firmly.

Fear was there. Jim could feel it creeping up inside of him,
the old enemy always lurking in the shadows wherever he faced danger.
He was familiar with its bite, though he had never grown accustomed
to it. He had never attempted to deny its existence, but it was not
his master. It would not stop him.

"My chances never seem to be, Lieutenant," he said as a matter
of fact, remembering the many times that his First Officer had
stated the same thing to him. He wished that it was Spock who was
saying it to him now. He felt alone in the universe, a loneliness
much like Mara's husband had experienced quite recently. He wiped
the nervous sweat of his palms on his trousers.

"If I don't make it, Kang will have to attempt it, so please,
do your best," said the gold and black clad Captain.

"You shall have my best because that is what 'you' deserve.
Not because I wish to spare my husband the same fate," she stated
hotly. "I am honor-bound to you, both as my Captain and as the one
to whom my husband and I owe our lives."

Jim realized that he had offended her, but did not wish to
offend her further by apologizing. "That is all I needed to know,
Mara. We still have many things to learn about our respective
cultures. If we survive this, we may be able to show our
governments that we are capable of cooperation and establish a
'real' peace between us."

The moment those words escaped his lips, the words of
Ayelborne returned to him. They spoke: 'You, as all people, have
heard the message of peace...'

'Peace,' Jim echoed to himself. 'Perhaps there would be no

PAGE 129








real peace, until we, as Christ had said, 'love our neighbors,' not
merely co-exist with them. Base our relationship on 'truth', not
just a document of tolerance, not merely by the observance of
self-serving laws.

He turned these thoughts over in his mind. They spoke to him
now as never before, and it was true. He had heard the message
before but gave it no more thought than just a collection of 'good
ideas'. He had never truly believed, never truly placed his faith
in them, nor in the One who spoke them.

In times past, he had used the name of God in many ways, but
he now recalled that it had not been since his childhood that it
meant anything personal to him. The faith of a child, it was,
trusting in the God that loved him enough to die for him. Now, as
an adult, he had heard the philosophies of men and relied greatly
on his own intellect to fill any place in his heart that once was
held for the God of his youth, yet still there were times when
he found himself asking the same question; 'God, are you really
there?' the question all men, all beings ask. It is only now that
Jim remembered the very name Jehovah, meant 'I am'.

The saying, 'There are no Atheists in foxholes', was an old
Earth expression that now came into Jim's thoughts. It is human
nature, perhaps xeno nature, to turn one's thoughts to his deity
in times of trouble. It is possible that there was nothing more to
this 'searching of the heart' that Jim was now undergoing, than the
normal searching one does in post-crisis situations. It is possible,
but Jim was not certain that he could write it off that easily.

James T. Kirk opened his eyes with the surprise of not having
known they were closed. He looked upon the Klingon woman, that
stood steadfastly behind the transporter controls. This co-
operation between him and the Klingons may not be the end-all
answer, but it was surely a start, a beginning at least for the
future that could be, one day.

"Are you all right, Captain?" Mara asked as she noticed that he
had held his eyes closed for a time.

Jim Kirk stood up straight and reigned in all stray thoughts.
"I am fine Lieutenant," he said with confidence.

"This is Kang." his voice erupted over the speaker. "We are
slowing to warp 1.1 and will be in transporter range in 10 seconds,
Mark!"

"You have your communicator?" Mara asked.

"Right here." He placed his hand on its location, behind his
back. "Thanks, Lieutenant. You have treated me with honor. Keep
monitoring the media broadcasts. I'm sure whatever happens below
will be big news."

"It is time. May the One True God protect you, Captain."
She offered him the earnest salutation of old tradition. She moved

PAGE 130








her hand skillfully upon the transporter controls and initiated
engagement of the beam-down.

Jim looked at her for a moment, wondering if she had read his
previous thoughts, then dismissed the notion. "Thanks, I believe
I'll need..." his voice trailed off, as he shimmered and
disappeared.



* * *



Captain James T. Kirk began to take shape in the mall that was
located behind the Supreme Assembly Hall building. Sparks popped
within the transporter field, then a distorted flickering image of
the Captain could be seen. The beam-down was failing and there was
nothing Kirk could do but silently, helplessly, endure the waves of
agony this was causing him. Charged particles were passing down
the transporter beam, forced into it by the Fury's warp field as it
passed within 60 kilometers of the Earth's surface. The grass
under Kirk's immaterial feet was beginning to smoke and burn.

On board the Fury, Mara was struggling with the controls. She
had been able to detect the problem and begin a reversal of the
transport... but it was too late. The wave had passed the point of
retrieval. She now had no choice but to increase power to the
beam.

"Kang!" she called to her husband. "Kang, you must circle
back, and remain in a loop pattern until I can complete the
transport. Captain Kirk is dying!"

Moments passed in silence as she tried to channel more energy
into the system. Then she heard a voice speak from the metal box.
"It is being done," Kang said.

She felt the ship's gravity increase as the vessel looped in
the tightest possible circle. 'I need more power to break through
the cloaking device's distortion field,' she thought to herself.

Then she had it. She set the control lock to its engaged
position and stepped from the console. Quickly, she ran over to an
engineering terminal across the room and tied into the ship's
environmental system. Ordering the ship to shut down artificial
gravity, she dashed back over to the console, unlocked it and found
the precious extra energy she needed. Centrifugal force now held
the crew to the deck.

Mara pushed the matter gain levers to maximum and cleared all
buffers, forcing the Captain out of the system.

Back on Earth, in the Mall of the Supreme Assembly Hall, a man
lay sprawled on a small patch of blackened lawn. He lay there on
the smoldering grass, motionless for a moment, then his chest

PAGE 131








heaved upwards, and Captain Kirk gulped a breath of fresh air. He
awoke, smelling the scorched earth beneath him and something that
reminded him of burning rubber. He closed his eyes against the
brightness of the sun and lay still for a moment. Fresh in his
memory was the pain that seemed unending, an agony the likes of
which he had never experienced before. Nor could he describe it to
another if he were asked. He lay there and realized suddenly that
the pain had ended, and remembered the reason he had come.

He opened his eyes again, and immediately a movement caught
his attention. Standing to his left was a small boy wearing anti-
grav skates and holding a small order of Pigeon McGiblets. The boy
looked more curious than scared, but he had obviously seen the
Captain beam down and was both surprised and a little shaken by it.

"Hello," Jim spoke to the child, squinting for the sun.

"You OK, mister?" the boy responded.

"Fine... just resting," Jim said.

"Your shoes are on fire," the boy commented.

Kirk was on his feet in a moment. His body had no memory of
the torment that was thrust upon it only seconds ago, and he seemed
to have more freedom of movement, more limberness to his joints.
'I don't think I'll mention this to Bones,' he thought to himself
as he stamped out his feet. 'He'll have me doing this as physical
therapy.'

Jim looked at the boy who could not be more than 8 years old.
"Thanks, kid."

"You're a Fleet Cap'in, aren't ya?"

"Yes, and I am on a secret mission. So I gotta go." Jim smiled
at the youth and turned towards the building behind him.

"You goin in there?" the boy asked, pointing to the Federation
Council Hall.

"Yes, I am. goodbye now," Jim said and began to move towards
the nearest entrance to the building.

"My mom's in there already," the boy offered the Captain. He
hovered behind the Captain, keeping up with him.

"Uh huh," Jim said, acknowledging the boy's comment. "I'll
see you later."

"Can I come?" the boy asked. "I could help you."

Jim could see that he was having no luck in shaking the boy
loose from himself. "I'm sure you could, but I've got to go inside
there and stop a very bad man from hurting lots of people."


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The boy looked at the Captain with incredulous eyes. "My mom
says that there aren't no bad men. Just people who have different
valiums than we do."

"That's values," Jim said and stopped walking. He gazed down
upon the small innocent face that floated below him. "We all can be
bad at times, kid. It's a choice we to make once we realize that
there is 'Right' and 'Wrong', to choose from."

"The police keep people from being bad, don't they?"

"The police protect us and help punish the people who do not
obey the laws. Obeying laws does not make us good. Laws don't even
tell us what 'good'is, but they do show us what is 'bad'."

"If I'm bad, are you gonna come after me, too?"

"I don't know, son." Jim kneeled down to the boy's eye level.
He was in a hurry, but the boy seemed important to him somehow.
"But when we see badness, it is good to try to stop it. If we don't,
we are helping the badness get worse and saying it's OK to be bad."

"Then I got to help you," the boy said with conviction.

Jim saw that he had backed himself in a corner again, and
lacked the time to talk his way out of it. "Ok, son, you can do
something that will help."

Jim took the tri-corder from around his neck. Bones had
intended that it be used to help track Garth, should he change into
a different form. Jim knew that if he could not stop Garth with
the first try, the second try could only be attempted with a
Starship. Garth would not allow anyone to get close enough to make
a second attempt. Jim removed his phaser from the pouch, slid it
behind his back and handed the unit to the boy.

"This has very important information that needs to go to the
Vulcan Ambassador 'Sarek'. If I can't stop the bad man, he might
be able to, with this. If you can't find him or get this to him,
tell your mom that it must get to him or the Assembly President."

He watched as the child's face lit up with the joy and
enthusiasm of being trusted with such an important task.

"Do you think you can do it?" Jim asked.

"Wow!" the boy whispered, turning the tri-corder over in his
hands. He then looked up at the Captain and nodded.

"Off you go then," Jim said and mussed the child's hair with a
gentle hand. The boy skated off towards the 'Visiting Dignitary's'
housing compound and was gone from sight in a flash.

Captain Kirk looked again at his surroundings. He had been
here many times before, for many different reasons, but never like
this. He felt like an assassin; a traitor to the Federation. If

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he were to be caught, that is exactly what history would remember
him as. Captain James T. Kirk, his name up in lights right next
to Benedict Arnold and Colonel Green.

Jim stopped himself from dwelling on the notion, and steeled
himself against any further thoughts of failure. He moved around
the huge building, seeing the mob of people that surrounded the
North entrance of the complex: Galactic Press Reporters, hoping
for any bit of information that might help them out-scoop their
peers; Protesters and demonstrators from every conceivable
viewpoint, some with signs, others singing and shouting their
messages; Onlookers, simply wanting a peek at the political
celebrities, thronging the steps to the building.

Security teams guarded the entrance and held the mob
harmlessly back with a static security web; an energy barricade
similar to a Starship's deflector screen. There were three
corridors open for authorized pedestrian traffic to and from the
building, once they were cleared by security.

Behind the security guards, mounted high on the marble pillars
of the building, were the first of the weapons detectors. Jim drew
his weapon and cupped his palm over it to conceal it from the crowd
he was nearing. With his thumb, he adjusted the phaser's focus for
the approximate distance.

Jim looked around for a moment, searching for something. Then
he found what he needed. Across the lawn were several public
vending machines lined up in rows against the fusion-formed walkway
wall. Jim aimed his weapon at the candy machine nearest the throng,
and fired, causing it to harmlessly ignite and smoke profusely. It
served as an ample distraction, as all were wanting to see either
what was burning or what everyone else was looking at.

Jim closed the distance from himself and the front entrance
corridor to approximately 50 meters. He stealthily aimed his weapon
at the right pillar and fired. He saw that his aim was too high by
a meter, as a spot on the marble column began to glow red. Jim
slowly dragged the beam downward until it made contact with the
weapons detector. He hit it square in its sensor array, fusing
the elements together silently, then pulled the beam over to the
left pillar and connected with the other unit.

'One scanning station down,' Jim thought to himself, 'Now to
get past these guards and into the building.'



* * *



The Supreme Assembly Hall was brimming to the rafters. Only
select persons of the News media were allowed to attend the final
session and multicast the event to all Worlds. They panned their
multi-cams across the crowded tense room as the delegates argued

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fervently while seating themselves and awaiting the President to
announce the results of the decision made there this day.

The President of the Assembly prepared to take the stage, as
his aide gave him the sealed document that only he was authorized
to open. He ascended the raised platform and took his place behind
the podium. On top of the dais was the membership charter that
was ready for the Emperor's signature in the event that the
decision was in his favor. The President would be expected to
contact the Klingonese Emperor in a moment, to allow him to be
present for the vote of admission. The Emperor had stated his
desire to hear the verdict with the rest of the Assembly.

The President could feel the division among the beings he now
faced. Throughout the deliberations of the past two days, tensions
between the delegates had escalated exponentially, the "For's"
versus the "Against's", both sides passionately opposed to the other.
That in itself was nothing new, but it had never been so on an
issue of this magnitude. Then again, in past deliberations, there
had literally been more time to debate the issues and sift out the
truth, or the proper course of action, time to determine the best
course of action. Now the President could only see a stampede of
cattle, rushing into oblivion and trampling each other in the drive.

As a boy, raised on a ranch, he had seen lightning start his
father's herd to running. And as he looked into the Emperor's eyes
earlier, he was now certain that there was lightning in them. He
had never been so afraid for the Federation.

It was now, as ever, his responsibility to hold the delegates
of the United Federation of Planets together no matter which side
the vote would favor. With the eyes of all upon him, the President
addressed the Assembly.

"Gentle beings," the President spoke to the anxious masses.
"Today we have reached a determination on a highly complex issue.
It was a difficult decision to make for all parties concerned and
we may find that it will not be easy for all present to accept.
But this vote should bring us closer as a coalition, regardless of
the outcome."

"We represent many races, many worlds. We are an example to
the rest of the galaxy, demonstrating the ability to set aside
personal differences and pull together for the betterment of the
whole. We have heard evidence of this, even from the mouth of the
one whom we had known as our enemy."

He looked to his friends, his guests, his allies. The
division ran deep. The only thing that could preserve this United
Federation of Planets was to remind them of what it was they stood
for. 'It is easy to forget, when the test is upon us,' the
President acknowledged to himself.

"A new idea can be difficult to accept... It is hard to extend
your trust to a stranger and even harder to turn away a friend in
need. But we, as a body, must make decisions, good or ill, and

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live with them. We do so with this ideal in mind: That we are not
merely interplanetary members of an organization, but we are
members, one of another. I am from Earth, but I am no less one of
you, if you accept me. It is a marriage, both of necessity and
convenience, for it is necessary to bear each other up in times of
trouble, and convenient to rejoice together in times of happiness.
Fellow beings... Let us continue in what our fathers started long
ago... Let us test and prove that the United Federation of Planets
was not created in vain!"

The President's oration moved the audience, and cut to the
heart of the delegates. They saw the issue in a slightly different,
slightly broader perspective now, and though there would always be
disagreements among them, it would take more than the events of this
day to destroy the unity they shared.

Sarek of Vulcan was the first to stand out of respect towards
the President. One by one the others stood with him and affirmed
the solidarity of the congregation.



* * *



Jim made his way towards the men in 'security red' guarding the
front entrance to the Assembly complex. All told, there were
fifteen security men in the front of the building, five at each
corridor entrance, and this was only the first station. There
were several other posts inside the building at evenly spaced
intervals. Since his retina pattern was on file here, his status
as a Starship Captain should guarantee his admission to the main
auditorium. Then, it was just a matter of toasting the other sets
of detection units that were scattered throughout the complex.

He mounted the steps, only 10 meters from the men, when he saw
the thing that he was hoping against. Each guard carried a hand-
held scanner that would certainly alert them of his weapon. 'No
turning back now,' Jim thought as he approached the men. He
thumbed the adjustments on his phaser as quickly as possible, then
raised his arm with his weapon extended.

"Here you go, boys," Jim said as he handed the first man his
phaser. "Guess I can't bring her with me, can I?"

"No, Sir." the young man said. "Thank you, Captain."

"Have you heard if the Assembly has come to a decision yet?"
the Captain inquired as he allowed another guard to scan his right
eye for identification. A third pointed his scanner at Jim and
played it up and down to be sure there were no other weapons on his
person.

"They are announcing the results of the vote this minute," the
second guard replied. "I think you've missed most of the


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excitement... Captain Kirk," he said, reading Jim's name on the
identification readout.

The first guard handed Jim a receipt for his weapon. "Thank
you; you're clear."

"Thank you," Jim said while eyeing the sidearms on the men.
He then turned toward the entrance of the building and considered
his options. Silently he trod up the sloping walk between the two
marble columns and into the building.

The lobby was enormous, lavish, and reflected a myriad of
cultures, Jim noted, as he saw the artwork that adorned the walls.
Beings from all corners of the Federation hurriedly filed in and
out of the restrooms, concessions stands, meeting rooms and hall-
ways. Most seemed to be aliens to this world, taking care of the
governmental business, which would not wait until their return to
their respective homes.

Jim spotted the hallway that would lead him, ultimately, to
the Supreme Assembly Hall. He headed down it. Before he had made
much headway, he came to the first of the internal security check-
points. They allowed him to pass through as soon as the scanner
had correctly identified him, and determined that he was no threat
to security.

'This way, at least, I won't have to keep destroying
Federation equipment,' he thought to himself.

Jim hurried his pace, passing others, many of whom were pages
or aides to their esteemed leaders. There were no windows in the
halls; all the lighting was artificial. They were tunnel-like
passageways, color coded in florescent pastels, the shade dependent
upon which wing or auditorium you were heading for. Jim passed
through four shades of blue hallway, and four different check-
points before he reached the final one, and after that, the last
(and lightest blue) corridor leading to the Supreme Assembly Hall.

The Security team looked no less lax, this deep into the
complex, than the first team did. The five men at this post were
keeping a wary eye on all comers, regardless of rank or position.

Jim approached the team and allowed them to do their duty.
They approved his access to the Hall and let him pass. As he went
by the last man, he smiled politely and nodded at him. While the
man returned the smile, Jim swiftly gave a Karate chop to the
muscular cords on the man's neck, bringing him down in an instant.
As the others turned to see what had happened, Jim had the
immobilized guard's weapon leveled at the four of them. He fired
without a moment's hesitation. The security men fell as if they
had been marionettes with their strings cut, and astonished cries
from the other beings in the hall erupted. He was glad to see

them run for help in the opposite direction that he was going.

Jim ran full-tilt to the last corridor, knowing that there
would be no shortage of armed guards on his tail any second. As he

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rounded the corner, he saw in the distance another security detail
standing outside the doors to the Hall. He stopped himself short
of crashing into a slender young woman with her arms full of
documents. In fact, there were several people walking the long
corridor between the guards and himself. They saw him with his
weapon and turned, shouting for the security team, while the young
woman slowly backed away, frightened.

Jim knelt and aimed his phaser down the hall. A blue stun
blast raced down the hall after the frightened people. They
dropped in their tracks, but the guards were shielded by the people
and too far from the blast to be affected. He could hear the
footfalls of many other guards coming from the corridor behind him.
He was on his feet again and ran down the hall firing ahead of him
at the security men now crouched by the doors. They returned fire.
Tight and deadly beams of crimson and blue screamed past the
Captain, but now the stun effect had better range as Kirk managed
to get close enough to them that they became dazed, and then one
final blast took them out.

The security team trailing Jim rounded the corner far behind
him. They reacted like a crack outfit, prepared for terrorists,
assassins or worse. There were twenty men in all. Five of the men
lay on the floor, aiming their phasers down the long corridor.
Five knelt behind them, five stood, while five more, slowly
advanced towards Jim who was only ten meters from the Supreme
Assembly Hall's doors. Jim turned. Seeing them, he stopped.

The guards were distant, but it did not matter. Jim was sure
that if he turned his back for a split second, he would be shot.
He was equally certain that if he just stood there at a standoff,
he would be shot still. He did the only thing he could think of.

Captain Kirk slowly raised his weapon above his head with both
hands. The guards halted their advance for a moment, cautious of
his every move. There was still at least 40 meters distance between
them, only a little breathing room for the Captain.

"Drop it!" the Lieutenant in charge shouted, and began to
advance, ever so slowly.

With his arms still raised, Jim gave the front end of his
weapon a sharp clock-wise twist. The phaser gave a distinct whine
that immediately began to increase in pitch and volume. The
security team heard it, and understood its meaning.

"It's on overload!" the Lieutenant shouted, and in a split
second calculated that at his best running speed, he could reach
the Captain just as the phaser exploded. "Fall back!" he ordered
his men, while turning himself around and retreating with all of
his might.

Kirk held his weapon up until he was sure that they were no
longer a threat to him. He quickly twisted the end of his phaser
counterclockwise, cancelling the power build-up. He pointed it
down at the ground before him and discharged the excess energy,

PAGE 138








burning a large crater in the floor.

James T. Kirk turned back towards the Assembly Hall, and
looked at the closed doors that separated him from the most
dangerous man in the Galaxy. He took a long deep breath and held
it for a moment. Slowly he exhaled it and nodded to himself in
silent affirmation. 'This is it,' he thought.

"Once more unto the breach!" Kirk quoted aloud, just because
he had always wanted to. He rushed at the doors to the great hall,
bursting through them like a battering ram, and into the mammoth
auditorium.



* * *



"I now ask you again," The President addressed the Assembly,
"to welcome Emperor Tromok of the Klingon Realm, as we discover
together the result of today's vote." The president pressed the
appropriate button on his dais and turned towards the beam-down
point. Several moments later the Klingonese monarch and his
entourage took shape on the stage. Admiral Sorr stayed beside
the Emperor as they approached the President of the Assembly.

"Again, I welcome you, Emperor Tromok," the President spoke and
offered his hand to the Klingon.

"Again, I am honored," he said in formal response.

The president turned toward the gathering of beings and broke
the seal on the document in his hand. He looked at it and began to
read its contents for all to hear.

"On the planet Earth, stardate 5859.5, in the seventy-third
gathering of the Supreme Assembly of the United Federation of
Planets, the question of the admission of the Klingon Empire to the
Federation was decided. The decision was 'for' admission." The
President stopped for a moment, knowing what would happen next.

As if on cue, sizable vociferation of joy arose from a great
many members of the Assembly who were hoping for this announcement.
The others remained silent, accepting the outcome, if not agreeing
with the decision. The noise died down and the President continued
his address.

"In the act of acceptance of this new member as part of our
alliance, we will now engage in the formality of signing the
document of admission." The President turned to the Emperor.
"Emperor Mocdar Jek Tromok of the Klingon Realm, you have read the
charter of the Federation during your journey to this world?"

"I have," he stated


PAGE 139








"Do you accept the responsibility for all contents therein and
agree to uphold all directives pertaining to interplanetary peace
and security?"

"I do," he spoke deeply.

"Then we all bear witness this day, that as Chief Spokesman
for the Klingonese people, Emperor Mocdar Jek Tromok and all in his
authority, are now full members of the United Federation of
Planets, and recipients of all the benefits and privileges of that
status." The President stepped back from his podium, and allowed
the Emperor to stand behind it to place his signature on the
document of admittance.

The Emperor looked down at the Charter of the Federation,
then he paused, lifting his head from the document and turning it
towards Admiral Sorr. "Do you acknowledge me as Emperor of the
Klingon Realm, Admiral? Do you recognize my authority as Supreme?"
He spoke low enough that only Sorr and the President could hear
him. Both Sorr and the President were taken aback by the question,
but Sorr dared not hesitate in giving him an answer.

"You are my Emperor. You are all I obey," spoke Sorr almost
silently, apprehensive of the man he stood with.

The Emperor smiled at Sorr through narrow eyes. It made the
Admiral all the more fearful. Sorr, a Klingon who had faced
dangers unflinchingly, now frightened by a glance, a mere facial
expression. Sorr felt ashamed of himself, but nonetheless he was
scared.

It was Garth who smiled at Sorr. It was Garth who only now,
received the full authority of the Klingon Empire from the highest

ranking representative. He could now sign the document with the
confidence of his signature's legitimacy.

The Emperor of all the realm known as Klingon placed his
signet ring on the base of the document and impressed the royal
emblem on it. He then looked out upon the congregation and raised
both his arms above the audience in a gesture of victory. They did
not know the extent of his victory.

"I must now take my leave of you," he spoke to the throng. "I
will take this good news to my people. We will prepare for the new
beginning that we will forge, together... Rest assured," he lowered
his voice and discontinued his smile, "you will see my face again."

There in that brief moment of silence, before a single being
could respond to the Emperor's statement, before a single hand
could strike another in applause, the doors to the immediate rear
of the auditorium burst open with a thunder. And like the
irrepressible backwash of a tide, all heads turned toward the sound.



* * *

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Captain James T. Kirk bolted through the main entryway in a
blur of black and gold, and came to a halt atop the central, down-
sloping isle. It took only a second for his eyes to adjust to the
lighting and to single out his target on the distant stage. He was
too far away. 'But not for long,' Jim silently promised the man
on the stage.

"Everybody DOWN!" Jim shouted, and an alarm sounded throughout
the complex at that very moment.

Many things happened at once, from that point on. Jim could
see the Emperor's elite guards drawing weapons that only they and
Starfleet security were allowed to bear. With his peripheral
vision, he could see security running towards him from their posts
at the emergency exits. The crowd whom he had just ordered to get
down looked at him, dumb and unmoving, like a herd of deer caught
in the illuminators of a land transport vehicle, but most important
to him was the locked gaze that he shared with the man who wore the
Emperor's face.

All doubt that Jim might have had concerning the identity of
the Emperor was stripped away when Jim saw the recognition, no, the
visible shock, on the Emperor's face. He would never know how
disturbing his presence was to Garth on that day, for in Garth's
arrogance and pride, he had planned for every conceivable problem.
He did not believe in the inconceivable... until he saw Kirk. Garth
came close to losing control of his physical appearance, and he
could feel his tenuous grip on it slipping away, moment by moment.
With all his strength Garth silently battled for mastery of his flesh.

The man, Kirk, moved with great speed down the aisle,
abbreviating the distance between himself and the stage, then the
floor exploded before him, as the Ramjep Avwi fired in defense of
their Majesty. Jim dived over the blast, tucked and rolled, coming
to a halt on one knee and aiming his weapon at the still too-
distant enemy. Then all hell broke loose...

The blast had shaken the frozen delegates from their shock,
and beings were running, flying, and oozing in all directions.
Screams and shouts made a deafening din. Both security and the
Klingon guard had momentarily lost their target in the masses, and
Jim was now being moved backwards away from his target by the
press of the crowd.

The President waved his arms at the edge of the stage,
fruitlessly shouting for the crowd to remain seated for their own
safety. Sarek and his aide climbed the stage in an effort to
protect the President. They each grabbed an arm and pulled him to
the back of the stage. It was the logical thing to do.

Garth regained control over his body and lost control of his
temper. No single person could be heard in the chaos, but Jim
could see the Emperor shouting his name in fury and moving across
the stage towards him. Garth, too, brandished a weapon now.

Jim struggled to make headway in the stampede, and made some

PAGE 141








progress until two beings directly in front of him exploded in a
blaze of light. The Imperial guard would not let a little thing
like killing innocents stop them from hitting their mark. If Kirk
had a choice in dealing with this situation, it had just been
ripped from his grasp. Jim held his phaser in front of himself
and fired his weapon, point blank into the press.

The group of delegates directly in front of him lit up in the
blue stunning energy field, falling upon eachother. More came,
stepping over and on their fallen peers. Jim fired again, mowing
down a swath in the direction of the stage. He fired again and
again, exposing himself to the fire of the Klingons, but gaining
ground towards his target.

Kirk was nearly in range when a reporter from the 'Galactic
Press Association.' with multi-cam in hand, interposed himself between
Jim and his goal. Jim punched him dead in the face and continued.

Garth was now descending the steps of the platform, still
shouting Kirk's name and coming for him like a powerful, deadly
predator stalking his foe. He pointed his disrupter in Jim's
general direction and pulled a barbed knife from his arm sheath.

Jim was in range now. He straightened his arm towards the
image of the Klingon Emperor. Looking upon his enemy's face through
the sights on his phaser, he saw Garth swiftly react. The Emperor
grabbed the nearest being, a Tellarite, by the back of the neck,
pulling it to himself and blocking any clear shot Jim might have.
It made no difference to Kirk. The stun effect would take them
both down harmlessly. Then Garth pointed his disrupter at Jim.
Smiling in smug defiance, he began to strangle his prisoner.

"Not today, Garth," Jim shouted and began to depress his
weapon's trigger. Suddenly the weight of four men pushed him to
the floor with a crash, sending his phaser flying from his hand.

The Starfleet security team had been able to reach Kirk by the
same path that he made in the crowd to reach Garth. They pinned
Jim to the carpet, as he struggled against them.

The Emperor dropped his unconscious prisoner to the ground and
slowly walked over to where the men held the Captain. He beamed in
victory. He gloated with murder still in his eyes. Jim looked up
to meet his gaze and he grit his teeth against the sight of his foe.

"I win, my heir apparent," the Emperor spoke, but this time he
spoke with the voice of Garth of Izar, for Jim's benefit alone.
Lazily the Emperor pointed his weapon at the Captain, as if merely
to put a poor injured animal out of his misery. Before he could
pull the trigger, his Ramjep Avwi grabbed him by the shoulders and
pulled him backwards toward the beam-down location on the stage.
Garth allowed them to do so, walking backwards for a moment, just
smiling at the Captain as he moved away.

"Garth!" Jim shouted in rage, in desperation, and in complete
helplessness. He fought to rise from his captors, heaving upwards

PAGE 142








with all his strength. He received a fist to the jaw for his
efforts... and then he knew no more.

As darkness now engulfed the Captain, so a darkness of another
kind began to engulf the galaxy. And at it's center... a blackness
that masqueraded as light.



* * *



End of Chapter #19

To potential "Acting" Agents/Trek Fans:

You have now read enough to make a decision as to the quality
of my novel. I now ask you for your assistance in representing
both of our interests to the Star Trek Editor of Pocket Books.

If you choose to boldly try what none have tried before... Please
re-read the file called "README.TXT" and make sure you fully
understand what I am requesting you to do. Then print the file
called "ST-AGENT.TXT". Fill out both pages and send the first page
to the "Star Trek Editor" of Pocket Books and the second page to
myself.

I hope to be hearing from you soon and I apologize that I am not
able to let you know the ending of the story unless both Pocket
Books and Paramount Pictures gives the go-ahead on publishing it.

Thank you very much for reading this and considering representing
me to Pocket.

Your friend. Mike.

Hailing frequencies closed.



















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