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Star Trek Online

"Tale of the Witch"

By Ambassador Kael
Fri 07 Jul 2017 09:30:00 AM PDT

“Husband,” B’irja said through gritted teeth as she trudged over a dune. “If I never have to look upon this place again, I shall be grateful.  ‘Planet of Galactic Peace’ – bah!  ‘Planet of Eternal Misery’ is a more fitting description!”

Rodek, son of Noggra, smiled beneath the filtration mask he wore.  Nimbus III was many things, but pleasant was not one of them.  He took a tricorder reading to get his bearings, and then pointed toward a massive rock formation jutting out of the sand nearby.  “Our destination is near, be’nal.  Behold Koord’s Rock.”

“Heh,” replied B’irja.  “It’s almost as large as old Koord was before he passed.  They say they had to rebuild the gates of Sto-vo-kor so they would be wide enough for him to pass through them.”

“Perhaps, but his fighting spirit was larger than his frame.  I read of his triumphs when I was just a bekk at the Academy.”

“You can regale me with his exploits later.  If that petaQ Horace Jones was speaking truly, the one we’ve been looking for lives in a cave here.”

“Yes.  The so-called ‘Witch of Koord’s Rock.’ She has put a fear in the hearts of many on this planet.”

“Cowards and superstitious fools!  If there is a single being with a shred of honor on this piece of baktag, I will be greatly surprised!”

“Regardless of that, keep your disruptor at hand. This woman has survived for many years in this place, alone.  That takes cunning, and prowess in battle.”

“She’s not the only woman with Imperial Intelligence training in this misbegotten desert. If this ‘witch’ wishes to test me, my knives are at the ready.”

Rodek nodded and walked toward Koord’s Rock.  “The tricorder has picked up several caves ahead.  The most defensible lies to the northeast.”

“Let’s go, then,” B’irja said tersely. “We wouldn’t want to keep the witch waiting.”

A small metal sphere burst from a nearby dune without warning.  As the two Klingons spun to face it, weapons drawn, a holographic image shimmered into view before them.  The visage of a Klingon woman, her head shaved, with numerous rings and piercings visible upon her lined face, smirked at them.

“Then stop chewing ligament and make your way to my home,” the hologram said.  “You have gone to so much trouble to find me, why waste time talking about the fearful bleating of fools?”

Rodek and B’irja exchanged a quick glance.  B’irja was the first to reply.

“You are Adet’pa?”

“I am. I am also hungry, and have prepared a stew I wish to introduce to my stomach.  Come forth, warriors, and I will share it with you… if you are brave enough to eat with a witch.”

With a nod, the two warriors began to march toward Koord’s Rock once more.

***

“I take it you two are not here to investigate the legends of Nimbus III.”  Adet’pa plucked a piece of meat from her bowl of stew and chewed it with relish.  “I wager you have come to speak of a certain duel of honor, and its little-known aftermath.”

“We are,” Rodek said. “It is said that you know the truth. If that is so, we would hear your account of the battle.”

“No matter the cost of such knowledge?”

“We are here.  That is proof of how far we are willing to go to learn what happened.”

“Very well.  I will not waste words on the battle.  I am no loresinger.  The story of what happened after J’mpok struck the final blow is what you wish to hear, yes?”

“It is,” said B’irja.  “Is J’mpok a liar?  Did he not kill Martok in honorable battle?”

Adet’pa ran a calloused hand over her shaved head and chuckled.  “In this matter, at least, J’mpok is not a liar…not completely.  He did, in fact, strike Martok with a killing blow.  And, as he left the chamber to proclaim his victory, the forces of House Torg began their treacherous work.”

“Go on.  What did they do, specifically?”

“They injected Martok with a number of very illegal and very effective substances; substances that kept him at the brink of death. To medical instruments, he was dead… but to House Torg, he was very much alive.  A long-sought prize, won at last.”

“To what end? Why would Torg commit such a dishonor?”

“I see you do not know Torg well,” Adet’pa sneered.  “He is capable of treachery that would make a Romulan blush. Torg wished to remove a capable Chancellor – Martok – and replace him with someone more… malleable.  In time, he would undermine Martok’s replacement and ascend to the Chancellery himself.  Once there?  Well.  Torg has long believed that the Empire should be led by an Emperor.”

“Madness,” Rodek said grimly. “But why would Torg keep Martok alive? The blade of J’mpok removed him from his position in a very final manner.”

“Because a hatred for Martok burns inside of Torg,” Adet’pa replied. “It consumes him, and he wanted to punish Martok for sins real and imagined.  Repeatedly.  In this, Torg has succeeded, unlike so many of his other schemes.”

“And where is Torg keeping Martok,” B’irja asked sharply. “Where does the taHqeq hold one of the Empire’s greatest warriors?”

“I shall tell you,” said Adet’pa as a sly smile crept across her face.  “But that knowledge comes with a price.”

“Which is?”

“Take me from this place. Take me to Martok’s wife.  She will want to know what I have told you.  I would have asylum with her noble house in return.  Once I have it, I shall give her – and you – Martok’s location.”

“This can be arranged,” Rodek said.  “But why now, after so many years have passed?”

“I have kept this secret for too long. I grow weary of it.  Torg did what he could to discredit me, and J’mpok did nothing to stop him.”

“Why would he? To reveal that Martok still lived would come with many uncomfortable questions and demands. Blood oaths.”

“Indeed.  And so J’mpok remained silent when Torg’s efforts led to my… banishment.  They thought to kill me, quietly, once I was publically dishonored and out of view.  They have learned I am not so easily disposed of.”

 “Returning to the Empire may expose you to any number of assassins, and their blades.”

“Perhaps. Making such a move will be harder under the protection of House Martok.  I’m willing to take my chances on such a gambit.  If I am to die, I would die a warrior’s death worthy of song.”

“And we will stand at your side,” said B’irja. “We will see your honor restored, Adet’pa.”

“Good.  Then let us finish this stew and leave this place.  Nimbus III may lose its witch, but the House of Torg shall gain one, and she has many a cold, vengeful dish to serve them.”

 

Paul Reed

Content Writer

Star Trek Online
 

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