Twenty-One - Answers
“All right Doctor, you’ve just bought yourself more time. Make it count,” Riker informed Crusher. The commander had seen Beverly apply herself on numerous occasions, and only hoped she would be able to accomplish her objective quickly. He wasn’t about to get any of the officers under his command killed if he could help it. “The rest of you, spread out. The Klingons should be here any time.”
The doctors and their staff already had their objectives, so bent quickly to their work.
“Commander, perhaps we can help,” Benia approached Riker, her poise strong and proud, looking for all the world as if she was in complete control of the situation, instead of the prisoner she had been only a short time ago.
“How’s that?” the first officer asked, his voice clearly laced with skepticism.
I won’t promise it will make a difference, but if we can get a message to them,” she briefly tossed her head towards the ceiling, indicating the ships of their fathers, “They might stop this ridiculous and cowardly feud long enough to listen to reason,” she suggested, her tone belying the belief of her own words.
“Her brother is dead because of this feud, and mine will soon be,” Rok’ta added. “Just two more casualties in a war of vengeance. It doesn’t make sense any more,” the young warrior shook his head.
Riker digested the conversation, trying to decide if letting them make the attempt was worth the effort, or if they were working together to find a way to sabotage the medical facility. He didn’t know enough about the two of them to judge them as individuals instead of as members of the Houses intent on vendetta. And there wasn’t enough time to find out. “Data, go with them,” he directed the second officer.
"And make it quick. If they can get their fathers to agree to a cease fire, the doctors will have more time to find a cure.”
The android nodded, gesturing towards the door, indicating the two Klingons should precede him. Rok’ta picked up his weapon as he followed the Starfleet officer. Riker intercepted him, placing a staying hand on the warrior’s arm.
“Don’t do anything stupid,” the commander warned, talking softly, so only Rok’ta, Benia and Data could hear him. The Klingon immediately tensed, baring his teeth.
“The only thing stupid” Benia spat the word at the commander, “he would do is sit here doing nothing while he dies of the plague.” She whirled away from Riker, stalking out the door. Rok’ta jerked his arm free of the human’s grip and followed after her. Satisfied he could do no more, Riker let them go, watching Data follow them out.
“I think we’ve got it,” Crusher called out. “Look at this,” she motioned for Selar to join her and Colna at the console they were working on.
As Dr. Motar, Selar and her two assistants gathered around her, Crusher explained her findings. “Autopsies from some of the deceased colonists show that not only did all of them have the double linings of the brain, as is normal for Klingons, but many of them had an extra thick lining. I almost missed it.”
“Yes,” Selar echoed, “and the outermost of the two was less porous in those individuals.”
“I don’t understand what difference that makes,” Colna said.
“When the lining is this thick, it prevents the passage of the virus through its normal circulatory path, essentially trapping it in the brain,” Crusher explained to Colna.
“Where it begins to break down the essential functions of the body,” T’Tala surmised.
“And quickly,” Crusher agreed with the Vulcan’s assessment.
“Could the thickness be a false reading?” T’Tala asked.
“What do you mean?” Crusher asked.
“I have not had the opportunity to work with Klingon physiology before accompanying Doctor Selar to qo’Hegh, so I am unfamiliar with the appearance of normal brain tissue in deceased Klingons. Given the uniqueness of their neural physiology, could the thickening be a result of rigarmortis?”
Dr. Crusher considered the question for a moment, then opened her tricorder. “Do you mind?” She directed the question at Colna.
“Proceed,” the Klingon readily replied. Crusher waved the scanning device over and around Colna’s head, making various adjustments to her instrument as she worked.
“Yours are normal,” she announced upon completion of her scan. Then she turned towards the unconscious Tykar laying on a biobed not far away. As she made her way across the room, Selar, Colna and Motar followed her. Tomar, however, touched T’Tala lightly on the back, causing her to turn around to face him.
“Quickly, Verda. The Empire must have this information,” the Romulan admonished her.
Instead of being intimidated, the use of her Romulan name sparked an unexpected touch of anger in T’Tala. How she would like to break his arrogant face! Quickly, she tucked the anger inside and bowed her head in what she hoped looked like submission, but it was too late. She could see the answering flame of fury in the Romulan’s eyes. She walked quickly away from him and joined the group near the dying Klingon.
“He has two livers, but he also has the thicker membrane lining of the pia matter,” Crusher announced.
“But why is he dying so much faster than I am”? Colna asked. “I’ve been sick for a long time. And Rok’ta was infected only a few days ago. He’s not incapacitated, as this one is.”
“From what I can tell,” the doctor surmised, “there are basically three groups affected by the disease. Those Klingons who only have one liver seem to take a very long time to manifest the disease, while those who have two livers, but also have the thicker membrane lining the brain die rather quickly.” She moved back to the console she was working on earlier, touching a few panels until the information she was looking for presented itself. “And the third group has both the thicker outer lining and only one liver,” she said, looking up at the group assembled around her, “which causes the patient to die almost as soon as the disease presents itself.”
“Now that you know the cause of the disease, can you fix it?” Colna asked, her eyes beseeching the doctor to fulfill her hopes.
“Yes, Colna, I believe we can,” the doctor smiled. “But first I need to return to my ship so I can replicate the medicines we need, then we need to get more of your people in here so we can test it on them.”
“I’ll go gather as many as I can find!” Colna exclaimed, smiling for the first time since Beverly had met her. She started out of the medical facility when they heard the discharge of phaser fire from the hallway. Then the thud of a body falling to the floor. Suddenly, a Klingon warrior was standing at the door, disruptor waving threateningly from one to another of them in uncertainty.
“Where is the cure?” the warrior demanded.
Colna had been heading out the door, looking back over her shoulder, not watching where she was going before the warrior had appeared. She didn’t have enough time to stop her progress before she was already upon the warrior, her small frame making solid contact with his and falling to the floor. The warrior looked down at the diseased female with disgust. That was all the time Tomar needed to act. He moved quickly to the Klingon, administering the Vulcan nerve pinch, and dropped the warrior in his tracks.
Everyone heaved a collective sigh of relief until Tomar picked up the discarded disruptor and turned it on the group himself. “Now, doctors, you will provide me with the virus sequence,” he said and aimed a very un-Vulcan-like smile in their direction.
Twenty-Two - Death
“Proceed down this corridor and to the left,” the Starfleet android informed the two Klingons, holding out his tricorder in front of him.
“What will you say to your father?” Rok’ta asked, bending his head closer to Benia.
“I will remind him of his honor to the living, and not just the dead,” she answered, her long legs easily keeping pace with the others. Now was not the time to linger, she thought. But if they were not in a deadly race against time, she would have taken the opportunity of being alone - well, almost alone - with this exciting warrior to let him know her heart was burning with desire for him. Here was the man that ignited her very being, where others had failed to illicit a single flicker. That passion was burning in her eyes as she answered him.
“You will not be successful, Benia. To j’Wel, you are already dead,” Rok’ta responded, an echoing flame alive in his own eyes.
“I am very much alive!” Benia suddenly stopped, slamming her open palm into Rok’ta’s face. She could not stand another moment of the blood racing through her veins without announcing her intention towards the son of her father’s enemy. Rok’ta responded in kind, grabbing both of her arms and hurled Benia into the wall. Before she could counterattack, Rok’ta captured her hands in his, trapping her against the wall. He opened hid mouth, baring his teeth, his breath hot against her cheek. With a surge of great effort, he stepped back a pace.
“We don’t have time for this now,” he told her, his chest heaving with the passion beating in his own heart, “but we will continue this another time, once the cure has been secured.” He looked deep into Benia’s eyes, communicating his deep respect and desire for her.
“You are mine, Rok’ta, son of Co’Mas. The bloodfeud ends here,” she pledged with finality.
“There are three Klingons approaching us from the corridor to the right,” Data suddenly announced, breaking the spell. He put his tricorder away and lowered his phaser rifle into position.
“Three Klingons, on a planet of Klingons,” Benia complained. “We won’t know whose side they’re on until they are already upon us.” The three readied themselves for the encounter, fitting themselves behind corners of the corridor. Nor was it long in coming. The Klingons in question didn’t have scanning devices with them, so they were caught unaware.
Benia immediately recognized the Klingons as warriors from her own house and, being without a weapon of her own, told the android to fire. Data took aim without hesitation and stunned two of the warriors, dropping them to the floor of the corridor. Rok’ta also fired, grazing the third warrior in the hip, slamming him into the wall. The third warrior was sprawled on the floor, but the blow did not knock him unconscious. As the trio approached him, he opened his eyes with great effort.
“You,” he gasped, fighting the darkness that threatened to consume him, “are a traitor,” he looked at the kneeling female taking up a position near him.
“No,” Benia told the downed warrior, “I am trying to save the Empire.”
“This petaQ killed your brother,” the warrior tried to inject venom into his words, but was slowly losing the battle to stay conscious.
“Monar killed Kelsron, you thickheaded taHqeq, not the sons of Co’Mas!” Benia yelled at the warrior, rising from his side to vent her anger. She unwittingly turned her back on the injured Klingon in an effort to distance herself from him. As she did so, he brought his disruptor rifle to bear on her and pushed the firing stud.
Rok’ta saw it coming and moved in time to throw his body over Benia, knocking her clear of the energy beam. By doing so, he placed himself directly in the path of danger. As Benia fell to the floor, unharmed, the disruptor beam gripped Rok’ta’s body from behind and took him. As he screamed out his life’s last breath, Benia crawled back to the warrior, wrenching the rifle from his grasp. Rok’ta was gone, completely consumed by the deadly disruptor blast, before Benia stopped beating j’Wel’s warrior with the butt of the weapon. She climbed to her feet and aimed it at the bloody and unconscious warrior.
“Do not let his sacrifice be for nothing,” Data spoke quietly, imploring the Klingon to stop the killing.
Suddenly, Benia stood and poured forth her grief, her vocal chords straining with the fury she released into the cosmos.
“I. Will. Not.” She hissed between gasps, her chest heaving greatly. She wrapped both hands around the disruptor rifle and took steady aim at the warrior laying on the floor.
“I suggest you reconsider your actions,” Data warned in a deceptively gentle voice.
Benia pushed the firing stud without saying another word. As the warrior at her feet was consumed by the energies released from the weapon in her hands, she was released of consciousness by the phaser stun Data aimed at her.
Twenty-Three - Attack
“Hail Co’Mas and j’Wel,” Picard ordered the brunette lieutenant who had taken over the tactical station when Lieutenant Daniels had joined the away team.
“Aye, sir,” she said. After a moment she reported, “They’re not responding, sir,” looking to the captain for further instructions.
“Commander LaForge,” Picard contacted the chief engineer through the internal communications system, “re-enforce our shields, we’re going to buy Doctor Crusher some time.”
“Sir, none of those Klingon ships are powerful enough to penetrate our shields,” Geordi LaForge responded, a question in his voice.
“I don’t want our adversaries to suddenly join forces and provide us with anymore surprises than we’ve already endured,” there was a touch of humor in the captain’s otherwise deadly serious voice.
“Aye, sir,” the engineer’s voice came through the comm link from deep in the bowels of the engineering section. “Re-routing auxiliary power to the shields.”
“Lieutenant Nara, on my mark, fire a warning shot across the bow of each of the leaders’ ships,” Picard ordered.
“Aye, sir, understood,” she replied.
“We only want to distract them, not disable or destroy them,” Picard cautioned. The lieutenant voiced her understanding and turned her attention to the controls.
“Open all hailing frequencies,” Picard ordered, rising from his chair. When he heard the computer chirp in correspondence with his command, he began to speak.
“Co’Mas, j’Wel, this is Captain Jean-Luc Picard. Stand down your weapons and cease fire.”
For a very long moment, there was no response. Then the face of j’Wel filled the front viewscreen.
“This is my answer Picard!” the Klingon sneered. Then the entire bridge crew of the Enterprise could hear him ordering his crew to enter the atmosphere and attack the colony.
“j’Wel - your daughter is down there!” Picard yelled.
“She is dead, and the blame lies at the feet of that coward Co”Mas!” j’Wel thundered in response.
“No!” Picard forged ahead, searching for a way to stop the Klingons from firing on the civilian population of the planet below. “She’s not dead. She’s helping the doctors formulate a cure.”
“Captain, incoming transmission from Co’Mas,” the Lieutenant Nara informed Picard. Then the viewscreen was split, allowing Picard to speak with both Klingon combatants at the same time.
“Do you see why this coward must die, Picard? He is attacking unarmed civilians!” Co’Mas roared.
“You are the coward! You killed my wife and son!” j’Wel exclaimed. He had to keep up the pretense of his son’s murder at the hands of Co’Mas’ sons, or forever lose honor in front of his crew.
“Gentlemen, regardless of past transgressions, the fact of the matter is that both of you have family members on the surface of that planet. If you will cease your hostilities and recall your warriors, then our medical team will be able to work more quickly to effect a cure, which, I might add,” Picard paused, “both of your houses will need since each of you have people who have been infected.” He was the picture of calm in the eye of the storm.
“My warriors would not be infected if his sons had not attacked us without provocation!” j’Wel disclaimed.
“It was your son that tried to destroy my sons’ ships!” Co’Mas countered.
“Enough!” Picard raised his voice. “If you two don’t stop the fighting right now, there may be no one left from either of your houses.”
“So be it,” j’Wel hissed, then he was gone. The image of Co’Mas rocked as his ship was hit with yet another round of enemy fire.
“It is a good day to die,” Co’Mas offered a lopsided grin. Then he, too, was gone.
“Helm, follow those ships. We’ve got to slow them down. Prepare to fire,” Picard began issuing orders, as the remaining Klingon ships choreographed a deadly dance around the Enterprise.
While returning to the medical facility to check on Dr. Crusher’s progress, Commander Riker came upon the fallen body of the ensign he had posted as security detail. He knelt quickly, checking the crewman’s pulse. Finding no stab wounds, or any other such life-threatening condition, Riker left the officer where he had found him laying on the floor. He quickly tapped his combadge, alerting Data and the other members of the away team of the situation. Then he crept slowly towards the door, alert to any possibility.
What he found was not at all what he had expected. There appeared to be one of the Vulcans from Selar’s crew holding the rest of the medical staff hostage at the point of a disruptor, with an unconscious Klingon laying at his feet.
As Riker made his way quietly into the medical facility, he noticed Lieutenant Daniels entering the facility through another door. The Vulcan evidently saw the lieutenant too, as he immediately trained his disruptor on the Starfleet officer. Daniels started to raise his hands in surrender, then changed his mind and tried to fire at the Vulcan. The energies released by his phaser drilled a hole into a supply cabinet, knocking it to the floor, as the disruptor beam from the Vulcan’s weapon slammed into his legs, hurling him to the ground.
As Daniels fell, Riker went into action, firing his weapon at the surprised Vulcan. Unfortunately, his shot went wide, giving the Vulcan time to take cover. At that point, the medical facility erupted in chaos. Everyone dove for cover, sending up a terrific amount of noise as they vaulted over biobeds, tripped on medical supplies and crawled behind supply cabinets. Everyone that is, except T’Tala. She immediately threw herself on the floor and crawled over to the phaser that had fallen out of the lieutenant’s hand when he had been hit by the disruptor blast.
Picking up the phaser, she immediately changed the settings from stun to kill. She took a quick look around the room and saw the young female - Colna - throwing metal objects at Tomar. Anything she could get her hands on became a weapon as she aimed unerringly at the Romulan, oblivious of the target she presented. The Starfleet officer who had fired at Tomar was still shooting at him, keeping Tomar pinned in the corner where he had tried to hide.
T’Tala moved across the room, careful to keep herself concealed until she was nearly upon him. Then she took careful aim at Tomar. Crouching behind the fallen medical cabinet, she raised the phaser to fire when she suddenly felt a presence at her back. Whirling around to face her attacker, she was surprised to find Selar kneeling on the floor behind her.
“You do not need to act on your Romulan instincts,” Selar told her, keeping her hands to her sides. “It is not necessary to kill him.”
“What?” How did you - “ T’Tala stammered.
“I have known for quite some time,” Selar said.
“But you let me stay,” the Romulan-turned-Vulcan protested, her mind racing for a logical explanation. Then she hit on one. “Of course!” she exclaimed. “So you could keep an eye on me to see what the Romulans were up to!” T’Tala cried in triumph.
“No,” Selar explained quietly, “because you had become an important member of my team. I would be most pleased,” she continued, “if you would choose to remain with us.” Despite the lack of inflection in Selar’s voice, T’Tala was able to see a hint of a smile on her face.
Selar held out her hand, indicating T’Tala should give her the phaser. She paused, looking over her shoulder at Tomar, and her eyes narrowed.
“You have an excellent future ahead of you,” Selar told her, “but only if you choose to remain with us.”
T’Tala turned the phaser so the business end of the device was pointed away from either of them, and gave it to Selar. She was more than a little surprised when Selar checked the settings, changing them back to stun, then turned and fired at Tomar herself!
Thanks to Selar’s accurate aim, Tomar was dealt a direct hit and slumped against the wall where he had been hiding. Riker carefully approached him and disarmed the unconscious Romulan.
“All right, people, let’s get to work!” Crusher announced. “We haven’t a moment to lose.”
Just then the entire room rocked as though they were in an earthquake. Part of the ceiling collapsed and computer stations were consumed in a cascade of explosions. Once again, Crusher and her team were under attack.
Twenty-Four - Rescue
“Riker to Enterprise.” The commander’s voice was almost drown out by the sound of explosions surrounding him.
“What’s happening, Will?” Picard replied. He was watching the viewscreen filled with a fluctuating number of small Klingon ships weaving their way around the Enterprise, each taking a turn firing at the Federation starship that dwarfed them. Very rarely did their efforts cause the ship or its systems any distress, except when several of them happened to fire at the same time. It was more of a coincidence when that happened, than a concerted effort on the part of the opposition.
“We’re under attack. The entire medical facility is about to collapse. Can you beam us all out of here?” Riker’s request sounded urgent, but not alarmed.
“We’re also under attack, Number One. Apparently each side thinks we’re the friend of their enemy,” Picard mused. “Can you get clear of the building?”
“No, there isn’t time. We’ve got wounded,” came Riker’s reply.
“Stand by Commander,” Picard advised. “Transporter Room Three, stand by to beam up the away team and those in the immediate vicinity,” he ordered.
“Aye, sir. Standing by,” came the disembodied voice of the transporter technician.
“Geordi, we’re about to drop shields. Make sure we get them back up the instant the away team is aboard,” Picard warned the engineer. “I don’t want our friends to get in any lucky shots.” The captain also alerted sickbay they would be receiving casualties and to send a team to the appropriate transporter room. Having arranged the necessary preparations to receive those on the surface in short order, he relayed the orders to initiate the transport.
“Crusher to Picard,” was the next thing he heard, “We’re all here.”
“Captain, we’ll need a security detail to the transporter room for an unexpected guest,” Riker’s voice informed him.
Picard raised an eyebrow. “You ran into some Klingons?” he speculated.
“One Klingon, Captain,” Riker paused, “and one Romulan.”
“Indeed?” Picard’s interest was piqued.
“I’ll fill you in when I get to the bridge. Riker out.”
After having stunned Benia with his phaser, Data had picked up her unconscious form and carried her to the communication room, hoping she would awaken in time to send a message to her father. He was not wrong. She did regain consciousness, but only when the building started to come apart around them.
“Where am I?” were the Klingon’s first words as she sat up.
“We are in the communication room, where you had wished to send a message to your father,” the android explained patiently. He could see the memories come flooding back as Benia regained awareness of their situation. While the android was now able to experience a wide range of feelings, thanks to his emotion chip, he had not yet experienced the violent death of someone he cared about, so was uncertain what to expect from the young female. Hysteria and anger were not out of the question, he knew. Such was not the case with Benia, however.
“We’re being fired on,” Benia observed calmly.
“That is correct,” Data agreed. “We must leave this place.”
“No,” the Klingon insisted. “Not until I speak with my father,” she attempted to rise from the chair where Data had seated her. The building shook again, sending loosened debris from the impact of the weapons raining down on them from the ceiling. Benia staggered, but remained standing.
“It is not safe to remain here,” Data pointed out.
“Then leave,” Benia instructed the android, finally reaching the communication console. Her fingers immediately sought out the commands to initiate contact with her father’s ship. It took an extra moment to input her personal codes, which would let her father know she was the one attempting to contact him and not someone else from the surface.
“You are under Starfleet protection. I cannot leave without you,” Data replied.
“Father, you have abandoned me,” were the next words Benia spoke. Completely devoid of the emotions Data had been expecting. He’d had enough experience with Klingons to know their emotions were always close to the surface, regardless of whether they were happily singing the opera of their choice, or engaged in a deadly battle. It was a constant in their culture. To see the young Klingon so empty of life was decidedly a bad thing, Data knew.
“Benia!” came the startled reply. “I thought you were dead!” j’Wel’s image came on the small screen inset in the console.
“I am…” she considered her next word, “alive, father.” Another burst of weapons fire centered on their position, creating a hole in the side of the building. Data could see through the opening into the surrounding compound where fires were raging and colonists were running for safety outside its walls.
“It is not wise to remain here, Benia,” Data stepped closer to the Klingon.
“Are you coming for me?” Benia spoke to the image of her father. What she saw in his face was not what she expected. Instead of the joy she had hoped for at finding his daughter alive, there was dread. And she knew the reason for that terrible look on his face. He was afraid. Afraid she knew the truth. All the anger she had denied since learning of her brother’s death, all the anguish she felt at watching Rok’ta be killed by her father’s own warrior - all came raging back with a vengeance.
“Will you let me be killed as you let Kelsron be killed?” she screamed.
“It was Co’Mas and his sons that killed your brother!” j’Wel protested.
“You lie!” Benia shouted. “Monar found out Kelsron and Tykar were going to meet. They were sick of this bloodfeud but Monar made sure it would continue! He was the one who killed my brother and blew up Tykar’s ship, and you knew it!” Benia’s accusation struck j’Wel dumb. He could not find an answer fast enough to counter his daughter’s charge to censure her. As he opened his mouth to speak, his communications officer informed him they were being hailed by the Defense Ministry. He shrugged his shoulders at his daughter, as if to ask what he was expected to do, then blanked the screen.
It’s about time our allies from the Defense Force arrived,” j’Wel growled. “Now we will ride the Empire of this disease!” j’Wel motioned towards the viewscreen.
“Activate the viewer,” he barked. j’Wel, expecting the image of his ally, was shocked beyond words for the second time that day when the face of the Federation’s newest ambassador was displayed instead.
“We have been monitoring your transmissions, j’Wel. Call off your attack and surrender your vessel,” the deep baritone voice of Ambassador Worf cut clearly through the static j’Wel had been experiencing as a result of the battle. He briefly considered continuing the fight. He knew he would never get another chance to bring Co’Mas down, and if he couldn’t salvage his honor, then at least he would have his revenge.
“Sensors show three attack cruisers decloaking, sir!”
j’Wel sighed heavily, knowing he was defeated. “Give the order to stand down,” he ordered.
“I will kill him with my own two hands!” Benia exploded.
“Killing your father will not bring Rok’ta or your brother back to life,” Data replied. Normally, he would have taken the exclamation as a rhetorical outburst of emotion, with no real intention of bodily harm to be inflicted on the offending party. In this case, however, he was not entirely certain the young Klingon was not merely stating her exact intentions.
“If it wasn’t for this foolish feud, my brother would be alive and I would be mated to Rok’ta!” Benia cried out.
“Seeking revenge on him will only perpetuate the violence, Benia,” Data said gently. “If you truly wish to stop the fighting, you will need to seek reconciliation both with your father and with his enemy.” These last words were accompanied by more debris falling from the ceiling, landing on the console Benia had been using.
She jumped away from the equipment, took Data’s outstretched hand and said “Let’s get out of here.”
Twenty-Five - Cure
The Enterprise’s sickbay was full of activity, with Tykar the center of attention. He had just been injected with a unique combination of what Beverly Crusher hoped would cure him of the disease they had all come to know as The Plague.
“His toxicity levels are falling,” Selar reported.
“Vital signs are returning to normal,” T’Tala echoed.
“Good,” Crusher sighed with relief. “Colna?” the doctor held a hypospray up, indicating it was the young female’s turn to submit to the treatment. Colna tilted her head so the doctor could easily reach her bared neck, then swallowed hard. Crusher administered the dosage, then touched the hypo to another setting, giving Colna another injection. It took only a moment to complete the treatment, then the Klingon gave the doctor a smile filled with hope.
“Is he going to recover?” the voice of Co’Mas, weary with grief, came to Crusher from the corner where he was sitting, slumped heavily in his chair.
“From what I can tell, so far,” Crusher said, reviewing the readings on the biobed where Tykar was laying, “yes.” The doctor smiled at the governor. Co’Mas closed his eyes with relief. He had suffered enough losses for one day. For one lifetime. He didn’t know how much more he could bear to lose.
He had asked Captain Picard for permission to come aboard to visit his oldest son, his heart filled with pain for the loss of his youngest son. He had found Benia standing watch over Tykar and was immediately afraid she was there to seek further revenge on behalf of the House of j’Wel. As he had stood in the doorway of the sickbay, he saw her eyes meet his and knew he had nothing further to fear from her. She, too, had her share of grief to contend with, but she was not going to seek relief through more death and destruction. He had stayed for a moment more at the door, then moved to embrace her. She readily accepted his gesture of comfort then swore an oath that she would stay by Tykar’s side until he was well again. It was the beginning of something new between the houses of Co’Mas and j’Wel, and the ending of something that should have long ago ceased. Losing one’s children to exact revenge was too high a price to pay, Co’Mas decided. He only wished he had learned that lesson before it had actually come to pass.
“Am I getting better?” Colna wanted to know. Once again, Doctor Crusher waved her tricorder over and around her patient.
“Yes, Colna, your toxicity levels are dropping too,” Crusher announced. “But you will require additional treatments.”
“What kind of treatments?” Colna asked.
“The medication we gave Tykar works to clean the virus out of his system. The one I gave you also helps to thin the outer membrane lining of your brain,” Crusher explained. “But it won’t get rid of the scars or give you a second liver,” she cautioned.
“You may elect to receive additional treatments to rid yourself of the scaring,” Selar suggested.
“And in time, with proper exercise, your strength will return to normal,” Crusher said. “As will Tykar.”
“Then what happens?” Colna asked. “Will we still be confined to qo’Hegh?”
“That, I’m afraid, is up to the Klingon High Council,” Crusher said.
“Not for you it isn’t,” Co’Mas stated, directing his comment to Colna.
“What do you mean?” she asked, her brow creasing with suspicion.
“You will become a member of my House, Colna,” Co’Mas smiled.
“What?” her eyes widened and she seemed at a loss for words - for once.
“You are already a warrior in word and deed. Now I will teach you how to fight like one,” Co’Mas paused for a moment. “Besides, I need you by my side to help keep my honor intact,”
“I am honored Co’Mas! We can bring glory to the Empire together!” Colna announced with great pride and enthusiasm, her once-impossible dream soon to become a reality.
“Crusher to the Captain,” the doctor pressed her combadge.
“Picard here, Doctor. How are your patients coming along?”
“The antidote is working, Captain. We can replicate as much as we need here and distribute it to the colonists,” Crusher replied.
“Very good, Beverly. Please make haste,” the captain requested. “We’ll need to leave Klingon space as quickly as possible.”
“Understood. Crusher out,” the doctor replied, ending the conversation.
Picard leaned back in the chair in his ready room and faced the Klingon in front of him. “Thank you, Mister Ambassador, for your help in this matter.”
“You may thank Chancellor Martok, Captain. When I explained the involvement of the two Houses, he saw the wisdom of providing assistance before the situation got out of hand,” the ambassador explained. “I could not have procured the three attack cruisers without his consent.”
“Yes, well,” Picard began, thinking to himself that the situation couldn’t have gotten much more out of hand than it had been, “please extend our gratitude to the chancellor for providing the means to end the battle between Co’Mas and j’Wel.”
“General Martok has also asked me to extend his gratitude for Doctor Crusher’s assistance in countering the disease,” Worf replied. “If the cure is, indeed, effective, I am certain we will be able to welcome the Klingons of qo’Hegh to the Home World. But,” Worf cautioned,” it will not be an easy transition.”
“We were all just very glad we could help, Worf,” Picard replied with great congeniality. “And I’m certain the colonists will be up to the challenge.”
“The Chancellor also wishes for me to remind you that you should…” the ambassador searched for the right words, “refrain from entering Klingon space uninvited in the future,” he finished, satisfied with the diplomatic slant he had provided to Martok’s actual words.
Picard’s lips twitched with amusement as he considered just how far the man in front of him had risen from the junior grade lieutenant he had met when he first took command of the Enterprise. And he was satisfied that, regardless of what the future might bring, as long as there were people in the galaxy like Worf, the Federation would continue to flourish.