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Posted on Tue Mar 24th, 2015 @ 4:12am by Civilian Haqtaj Matlh & Petty Officer 1st Class Vartog

Mission: Trouble on the frontier
Location: Holodeck

Vartog shifted uneasily, unsure how well he could play-act. He steeled himself, then began.

“Madame,” he said, trying to keep his voice even and nonchalant but doubting he succeeded. “In my spare time I have been putting my other skills to use.”

Haqtaj was frustrated. The new offices were similar, but different enough to be just that little unsettling. Things were not quite in the same place. Add to that the new tension in S' Ranya's presence; not that she was not happy to see a comrade in arms.

And then there was the device in her office.

She looked up at Vartog. Subterfuge was not his strength; probably one of the reasons he appealed to her as a diplomatic aide. She ran the sentence back through her head to see if it made any more sense the second time.

"Good?" she ventured, unsure why the man would be so uncomfortable telling her this.

“I have designed a new holosuite program. It is an exercise regimen based on historic Klingon battles. Would you do me the honour of being the first to put it through its paces?”

Now THERE was something she could really be involved in!

"ToH!" She declared. "A battle simulation? I am intrigued. Lead on!"

Holosuite, DS12

“Activate program Vartog Beta 15, Part 1,” Vartog instructed.

They were on a wide plain. A stream ran across it from roughly north-east to south-south-west. There were few trees on the plain because most of it was under cultivation.

Behind and to his right and left stood rank upon rank of Klingon warriors. Haqtaj and he were stationed in the vanguard. Their task was to take and hold the sole bridge crossing the stream while the main body of the army came over to engage enemy.

Across the stream stood equally impressive massed ranks. They too were Klingon. Vartog had gone deep into Klingon history for his setting for this was when the planet was still ruled by clans, each with their own territories which they defended with their lives.

A soft wind blew. It did little to cool the warriors in their armour but it was enough to unfurl a banner and set it fluttering. It was the banner of Kahless .

Haqtaj's eyes narrowed as she adjusted her grip on the long spear she bore. This was a time before the forging of the first Batleth, when the forces of the incumbent governor, the corrupt Tyrant Molor, were confronted by his brother Kahless. These days were the foundation of what it meant to be a Klingon.

Vartog surveyed the scene before him. “Today is a good day to die.” he intoned. Then he added; “I took the precaution of leaving the safety protocols switched on. I trust you don’t mind, Madame. Being on the losing side I thought it best. History tells us Molor’s forces fought tenaciously but they were routed on this day. Few survived and those that did committed suicide rather than face the ignominy of living when their master did not.”

Haqtaj looked at the throng around her, "These men and women do not know what it is to fight as Klingons. They are a rabble, and their leaders are indolent. A warrior who is concerned more for their life than their duty and honour will always shy away from the worst of the fighting. But we shall stand as a beacon to them today." She smirked, "Being Immortal with safety protocols doesn't hurt either."

“If I might make so bold, Madam,” Vartog ventured, “we are so far back in time here that the concept of honour was not known; not as we understand it anyway.”

Haqtaj snorted, "Then we shall teach them what it means, even if we fight in the loosing army."

When the order sounded, they advanced towards the bridge. Fifty paces short of it they halted. The middle ranks drew their swords and resumed the relentless march. To Vartog, they felt like a juggernaut. He knew his history – he knew what today’s outcome would be – yet he felt like nothing could stop them.

Halfway across the bridge over the stream, the arrows began to fly. Warriors fell all around him. Fewer than a third of their number made it across. Vartog heard the cries of wounded and dying warriors and thought they should bear the pain better. Still, their mewling served to drive him forward, to show that he was a Klingon.

Those who achieved the other side tried to reform ranks as they left the bridge but now they faced a new threat. The arrows abated but Kahless ’ cavalry started to charge their flanks. They formed a square, every new warrior swelling it and strengthening it. No sooner did they do so than the cavalry withdrew and the arrows resumed. If the warriors tried to spread out to provide harder targets, the horses charged back in.

Vartog and Haqtaj worked in unity. While Vartog held his shield high against the arrows, Haqtaj's long spear kept the horse riders at bay. Beside them, each warrior fought as his or her own island; succumbing to sling, steed or steel.

It was a slow, excruciating death. New numbers were now arriving slower than warriors were being killed off by arrows or cavalry. They found themselves pushed away from the bridge, cut off from any succour from their fellows.

One by one they fell. Time dragged on. Hour after hour they stood their ground in the sweltering sun. Vartog’s muscles were a mass of agony but still he swung his sword. His shield was pierced by so many arrows it had almost doubled in weight. It felt like triple or more what it had been that morning. Few there were who were still standing when Vartog called a halt.

He was sweating profusely but he held himself tall like a true Klingon.

Haqtaj's spear was covered with gore to half its length and her legs and waist were a mess of mud and blood. Her eyes were aflame and she flashed a glare at the audacity of Vartog calling a halt while there were still enemies to fight.

Vartog turned to Haqtaj. “Please forgive the subterfuge, Madam,” he said, “but we are safe from prying eyes and ears here. Even if there are bugs hidden in these walls – and I am quite prepared to accept that the Cardassians will have left some – I have written a sub-routine into the main program which will render them useless.”

Haqtaj came back to the present, through a thousand years of heritage and war.

“If anyone does pry, all they will see is two Klingons doing what Klingons do best: fighting. They will see the battle we just fought. It is why I ran that first before explaining my purpose. It is, after all, a perfectly reasonable pastime for us to share.”

Haqtaj leant on her spear, the exhaustion of the past few hours catching up as the adrenaline was allowed to drain away.

"I find fighting by your side a singularly rewarding experience, Vartog. I take it you have an ulterior motive for this exercise?"

“I have, as you instructed, made discreet inquiries into the matter of the listening device planted in your office.”

"ToH! The device," Haqtaj snarled, "go on."

“It is difficult when I can’t actually say what I am investigating or why. I do not offer this by way of an excuse, merely as a statement of fact. There is no talk in Security of any of the other races being active in this fashion. It is expected that there is espionage going on but no-one has heard of any overt clandestine acts.

“I am aware of Lieutenant Svardberg’s...antipathy...towards Klingons. She strikes me though as a direct person. She also strikes me as very capable. If she did plant the bug then she wanted you to know it was there. As to the Romulans, I think they have other things to worry about. I gather the new ambassador is not particularly well liked. I have heard that Captain Harrison has received instructions to keep an eye on her. Word is that Lieutenant Svardberg is none too pleased.”

"That is the best news I have had all week," Haqtaj grinned.

“Given that the device appeared after we took up residence on the station, I think we can rule out the Cardassians. If they wanted to listen in on your conversations, surely they would have installed a device before they left.”

"Indeed, they may well have, though I suspect they will be harder to identify," Haqtaj mused. "So, we are no closer to a culprit. We have ruled out our major suspects... or at least they all have good reasons for us not to suspect them. All except our own people."

That was a ground Vartog did not care to venture onto. “Would Madame care to try Part 2?" he asked by way of changing the subject. He knew he would have to return to it sooner or later - he much preferred later - but he wanted good evidence before he said anything.

Haqtaj stretched her shoulders, "Scenario?"

"The vanguard has been wiped out and Kahless’ cavalry has poured over the bridge. Kahless’ infantry have started to cross as well. Molor’s archers have launched their own hail of arrows. It is cutting down the cavalry but they have spread out, small bands launching attacks on the archers’ flanks.

“We are now in the main body of the infantry, awaiting the clash of two mighty armies for our forces are still strong despite the setback earlier. If we fight bravely we can still win this day.”

Haqtaj snorted, "History has said this battle is lost. Indeed the men of Molor were routed because they knew they were loosing. In the academy we are taught that, had they held their ground to the last, Kahless would have exhausted his offense and been unable to confront his brother. This battle is no longer about winning. It is about who we will be when we face death."

"Perhaps," she mused, "this is a lesson I need to hear. Perhaps I will not win this fight, but I can continue to be who I am even in defeat. History will tell. CHARGE!"


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