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back to The Patrol Part 12
"How many are involved?" The Colonel asked the screen.
Admiral Rickett stood next to a Klingon officer who's face was partially obscured by a mask, his voice, filtered.
"Dozens. But the leader is a Duras. He is laying claim to an entire sector as his birthright and attempting to secede from the empire." Came the gruff reply.
"Duras. Duras." The Colonel said thoughtfully, "Why does that name ring a bell?"
"They were a powerful family. They still have many allies in and outside of the empire." The Klingon said.
"And they have some influence in the Federation Counsel. Which is why this mission requires a certain level of discretion." The Admiral said.
The Klingon took a huge breath, his voice rumbled a bit as he talked. "This must be done without honor. He has to die like the coward he is in front of witnesses. The legacy of the Duras must end here."
"I'll have him begging for mercy." The Colonel said with cast iron eyes.
"That would do it." The Admiral said.
Commander Klastor couldn't contain her glee. "The Duras are the reason my family had to leave the Home World. They seized our land and made my family and many others virtual slaves."
"So you have no objection coming with us and helping with some of the more delicate Klingon protocols and customs. I'm a little rusty in everything but curses and opera."
She smiled. "I'll teach you to appreciate froegiss the way it should be eaten."
The Colonel had done much in the name of the Federation's best interest. He had even eaten froegiss, bones and all, but he didn't enjoy it.
He looked at her. "For you, and with you, I'll even eat froegiss."
"If we're caught." She said to him.
"We won't be captured." He said seriously.
The black ship was on course at high speed for the distant system. Nearly on the other side of the Empire from the Federation. But it was a strategically located system on a busy trade route that led right to the heart of the Empire, and then to Federation space.
"On the other side of the Empire is a power we've seldom dealt with called the Preens. They have been peaceful before, but they make no promises that they are not looking to expand their influence. They are famous opportunists and think strategically in the long term. Which they can do, their life span is about double the Klingon's and ours as well." The Colonel said in the ship's huge holodeck.
"Preen. I learned about them in school." Commander Klastor said. She was in full Klingon regalia.
"Short." Wan said looking at the images of various types of Preen.
"Very. The average height for a male is about one meter. Their females are usually a few centimeters taller than that."
Kavel grinned at Marot. "Finally, somebody you can look down on."
"Their ships, however, are the size of an Excelsior class cruiser, with about equal armaments. They do use ion propelled missiles with shields and antimatter charges that are faster and more powerful than Star Fleet photon torpedoes."
"Nice." Aashth said as a demonstration of the weapon unfolded above their heads.
"What about this Duras?" Kavel asked.
"Tra-ak Rulon Duras." The Colonel said coming down hard on the second syllable of his first name. He touched his briefing pad, the Preen all around them vanished to be replaced by the outpost in sector K-873. An unremarkable Klingon with a sash full of decorations was walking with a heavyset woman. "That's his mother, a distant relation to the more famous, and better looking, Duras sisters from Qo'nos. Until the demise of the main branch of the family, they were all but forgotten."
"As opportunistic as the Preen." Rontel observed.
"Yes." The Colonel said, then he glanced at his pad and continued. "Of the decorations on his sash, he is actually only entitled to wear one. He really was a delegate to the Empirical Counsel after the most recent Civil War."
"He has no honor." Klastor said wondering if she should spit on the hologram.
"No. And my information says that as soon as he declares himself independent of the Empire, the Preen will recognize the system and sign a defensive treaty with him."
"The Empire will never allow that." Kavel said.
"No, but the cost of peace with the Preen will most likely be several systems along their mutual border that they have been claiming for decades."
"The Preen will win no matter what happens to Duras." Aashth concluded. "Nicely done."
"The Empire could not stand a war right now. They could loose this entire sector, which, as it so happens, he is claiming as his sphere of influence. He claims it was promised to the Duras as a gift from the Empire. There is no basis for that claim."
"There are some people you never have to meet to develop a strong dislike for." Aashth said.
"So what do we do?" Marot asked.
"His death warrant was signed by the Emperor and delivered by his aid, K'torth. The reason it has to be done by an outside agency is simple." The Colonel said.
"The Duras still have friends and allies that if aroused could throw the Empire into another Civil War." Klastor said.
"Exactly." He touched his pad. The scene changed. "This is one of the places Tra-ak frequents."
They looked around.
"Slly'bah." Klastor said looking at the people in the room.
"Exactly, once again."
"For those of us that don't speak Klingon." Kavel said.
"Prostitutes." The Colonel said. "The leader of the new Independent Klingon Realm, has a weakness for the fairer sex." Then he grinned. "And some not so fair. He has been known to, shall we say, sample other ways."
Klastor sneered at the Colonel. "He is not fit to kill."
"In any case, this house of ill repute is about to get a new employee. Someone he could not help but fall for."
The Colonel was looking at Marot. "No." She said.
The others were looking at Marot. "No." She said.
"No." She said.
The Colonel nodded. "I, have a plan."
"No." She said.
They spent the next several hours getting their makeup, costumes, and physical alterations done.
Finally they looked their parts. Even Klastor had been changed a little. She now looked older and harder than she had. The Colonel was an old Klingon man. Aashth was an off-worlder of mixed race. Marot was obviously a 'working girl.' Rontel would pass as somebody's Grandmother.
"No visible arms." The Colonel said. "Only traditional weapons are allowed."
Aashth patted his short sword. "No problem."
"Orbit over the Western magnetic Pole." Wan said precisely over the comm. "Invisible." Then he rumbled and clattered as he laughed.
"I hate you." Marot said to the Colonel as she tugged at her costume.
"A very nice half-Klingon Romulin you make." Aashth said to her.
"He's due there in fifteen minutes. We're going to swap you for Lo'Durza when she's alone." The Colonel said. "We'll be outside to make sure nothing goes wrong." He flexed his hand in its black glove.
"This is going to work right?"
The Colonel nodded. "It'll be broadcast to the entire Empire. Just get him outside before you do him." He looked at the rest of them, "Remember, the important thing is that Tra-ak Duras joins the dishonored dead being scorned by Kahless the Unforgettable."
They nodded gravely.
Kavel spoke from the transporter console. "She's alone. Get ready."
Marot stood ready. "OK." Then she was gone, in a second, a very angry half-Klingon Romulin working girl was screaming at them. Aashth stunned her.
The Colonel, Aashth, Commander Klastor, and Rontel stood ready.
"Do it." The Colonel said. They were gone.
The target house was on the outskirts of the settlement. The surrounding buildings were run down and in some cases, deserted. But the actual house was well maintained. A huge and very overweight Klingon man was standing outside holding a long heavy battle-axe. A bat'telh hung on his back.
"She's inside." The Colonel said checking a small scanner on his wrist.
"Here comes the Duras qi'yah." Klastor said trying not to look repulsed.
"Take it easy, let's split up." Aashth said walking away with Rontel shuffling on his arm.
Tra-ak muttered a greeting to them as he stepped through the low gate to the house.
The Colonel waited until he was inside, then he signaled the ship.
In a second a small camera unit materialized on the front of the building across the street.
"Ngagh hu!" Tra-ak said looking at the room full of women.
Marot managed to catch his eye.
"Ngech." He rumbled looking at her chest.
She remembered a few of the words, "Be'joy'?" She sneered at him and rocked her shoulders at him.
He made strong eye contact with her. She walked up to him and raked her sharpened nails across his hands.
Tra-ak pushed her backward into the room. Growling and spitting out words that were almost unintelligible.
Marot was not going to go any further than allowing him to rip part of her costume off of her. She locked eyes with him and started calling him everything she had ever heard in his language. He back-peddled.
"Huh ghorch veqlargh!" She spat out.
Tra-ak was confused by her anger and her butchery of the language, but it didn't matter. He stepped backward and somehow ended up falling backward out the front door past an old man. The woman was slapping and scratching at him. He tried to defend himself. And called for the guard.
Marot got a good stare into his face.
Tra-ak stumbled and fell in the street. Dozens of people were watching.
Then the guard was there. Somebody said something to him and he turned to look.
Marot grabbed his axe and held it over Tra-ak. She stared into his eyes.
Tra-ak actually shivered. "Ghobe'!" He shouted. "Roj!" His face was full of fear. "Jup! ... hhaaahhh ... Tay!" He closed his eyes and seemed to be crying.
Marot held the axe over him. "BatlhHa." She said spitting on him.
She turned and gave the axe to the guard.
He scowled at the man on the ground. "Pujul'." He said with loathing in his eyes, then he too spit on Tra-ak.
Tra-ak reached into his belt for his sidearm and began to draw it with a curse on his lips.
In a single motion beyond belief for one of his girth, the guard swung the axe and beheaded Tra-ak. The gun slipped from his lifeless fingers without firing a shot.
"Maq-to'vor." The guard said spitting on the dead man.
Marot was already back inside the house.
"Let's go." The Colonel whispered to the others.
Inside the house a dazed and confused half-breed prostitute wandered from an upstairs room totally disoriented.
On the black ship they got out of their costumes and makeup as the ship fled Klingon space.
"What did he say that made the guard react like that?" Aashth asked.
Klastor grinned at him. "He was calling her a friend and telling her to be civilized about the whole thing."
"From a Klingon? No wonder the guard didn't like it."
The Colonel nodded. "The guard said Tra-ak was without honor, then after he killed him he called it the killing of someone who had lost all face to the world."
"And everybody saw it." Kavel said. "I sent that sequence, with sound, out to everybody with a subspace receiver in this half of the Galaxy."
"I'm sure it'll be a hit."
"Does this ship have a name?" Commander Klastor asked the Colonel as they re-entered Federation space.
"Yes." He answered.
She expected more, but he said nothing else.
"What is it?" She asked him after a minute of silence.
"It's a good name." Aashth said, but he too did not say it.
Klastor looked at him, but the security man remained silent. She turned her gaze to Wan.
The Andorian Cyborg clattered and announced they were passing through the Dorian system. Then with a sideways look at her he said, "Honorable name."
"A name of legendary status on Earth." Marot said smiling at her. "Although I understood none of the history that I read."
Aashth laughed. "But it was fun. And they were most colorful!"
"Colorful." Wan said. Then he clacked as he laughed.
"But this ship is solid black." Klastor said.
"Usually, although we can change that." Aashth said. "Mr. Kavel, run our colors."
"Delighted." The engineer said from the comm.
The main screen changed from stars to a view of the ship. It went from black, to red, then turned into a rainbow that had gone through a food mixer. Finally the paint scheme settled down to a psychedelic pattern, the view changed to the front of the ship. The word FURTHER was written across the front in wobbly letters.
"Further?" Klastor said confused.
"An old Earth land vehicle I had done a history on in the Academy." The Colonel said.
"Star Fleet Academy?"
"You sound surprised." Rontel said from her seat near the communications panel.
"I shouldn't be." Klastor nodded.
"I told myself that if I ever had a ship of my own, I'd name her after that old bus."
"Which would make us the Merry Pranksters." Marot said. "But I think 'The Patrol' sounds better."
"I not Merry Man." Wan grumbled.
"You can say that again." The Colonel said.
"I'll have to look this up when we get back to the station."
The Colonel smiled at her. "You do that." He sat back and smiled. "Kesey, Romney, Kerouac, they lived their own way, and they made a difference. In the long run, they did make a difference. Further made a difference."
"And that's what you're doing." She nodded to him, "Making a difference."
The Colonel picked up his black gloves and looked at them for a long moment in silence.
"That's what counts."
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