With a short, quick, stab of his bat’leth, Commander Rek’Vada finished the final Borg drone. He contemplated its twitching form in the ankle-deep water, and allowed himself a toothy smile. These creatures, that had caused such fear to the humans, were not so bad. A little cold steel put them down as easy as any other.
“Enjoying yourself?” The human captain called from across the room. What had been his name again? Something decidedly simplistic, like all human names. Carter, he thought. They had been briefly introduced in the entry to the Arena of Sompek, but Rek’Vada had barely cared to remember the name. It was true that the Alliance had been beneficial to the Klingon Empire, but that did not mean he had to like battling alongside a man he would have gladly parted from his head only a few short years ago.
“These virtual games do nothing to raise the blood.” Rek’Vada responded. “There is no true test when there is no true danger.”
“I don’t know about that.” Carter rolled up the sleeve on his red Starfleet uniform. A serious burn had puckered the skin of his lower arm. He removed a medical tricorder and started passing over the injury.
Rek’Vada laughed. “Perhaps, Captain, now would be an appropriate time to learn to dodge.”
Carter looked up from his injury, and his eyes widened. “I agree,” he said, “Duck!”
Rek’Vada only had a moment to react as the Federation Captain pulled out his phaser and fired directly at him. He turned, and watched the Fek’lhri behind him stutter and fall. It was quickly replaced with two more. The next round had begun.
Captain Ian Carter had joined Starfleet for the exploration. Growing up in upstate New York, he had dreamed every day of getting to go somewhere different, to see new worlds. He’d gotten his wish all right, but it seemed that every day since his commission had been filled with more and more fighting. The Klingons had been his first battle, but it was the Iconians that had changed everything. He had gone from a wide-eyed kid who didn’t know the first thing about commanding a starship to a battle-hardened warrior.
Or, so he thought.
Watching this Commander Rek’Vada at work, he realized he might not know the first thing about battle, either. He hadn’t fought side by side with a Klingon before, not to mention one who used a bat’leth instead of a disruptor. This old, tough warrior had cut down at least twenty of these… whatever they were… while Carter was taking cover and carefully placing his shots.
Now, they stood under the cover of one of the central stairwells, breathing heavily. Rek’Vada was covered with small, deep cuts from the fingernails of those demon things.
“Here,” Carter said, extending his tricorder. “Let me help you.”
Rek’Vada pulled away suddenly, with a noise that was almost a hiss. “We do not have time, human. They will heal. Focus on the battle to come.”
“It’s Carter, actually.” He said. He’d introduced himself to this Klingon. The man was just being stubborn.
“I do not c-“the Klingon paused, mid-sentence, as if he smelled something out of place. His hand clamped onto Carter’s shoulder like a vice.
The crazy old man must have lost it, Carter thought. He reached for his phaser, but Rek’Vada pulled both of them bodily out from under the stairs, back out into the water.
A moment later, the place they had been standing was blasted by one of the most intense energy beams Carter had ever seen. He looked up at his companion. Rek’Vada was laughing.
“So, it appears this place has some tricks!” He said, slapping Carter on the shoulder. “Keep your eyes open, human!”
The perfect mechanical bodies of a Tholian attack squad skittered out from cover. The battle was on once again.
“That’s thirty for me!” Rek’Vada roared over the sound of tearing metal.
“We’re not keeping score!” Carter shouted back, firing his phaser at the towering, spider-like creature in front of him.
“You’re only saying that,” The Klingon warrior tore another Tholian in half, “because I’m winning!”
“Thirty-two!” Carter yelled back.
Rek’Vada roared with laughter.
“I apologize.” He seemed genuinely contrite. It was an odd look for the man Carter had just seen bisect a giant, crystalline spider.
“It’s fine, really.” Carter tied the bandage tighter around his arm, staunching the bleeding as best he could.
“If I had known you were behind me-“Rek’Vada began.
“No, no, I shouldn’t have been there. It was instinctual. I understand.”
“I understand if you wish to claim the Rite of Vengeance.” Rek’Vada looked at Carter, unblinking. Was he… joking? Is that really how the Rite of Vengeance worked? Was Carter going to have to fight this Klingon in the middle of the Arena?
The point was made moot. The Breen attacked.
“Put your hands closer to the fire,” Carter was saying. Rek’Vada rolled his eyes. He did not need mothering from some hur’Iq. They were gathered around the remains of the fire trap, shaking off the ice the Breen used as weapons.
“Seriously,” Carter continued, “it won’t burn you until you get right up next to it. You can get closer. You don’t want to get frostbite.”
“Do not tell me what I wish to do, human.” Rek’Vada grunted, nearly under his breath.
Carter cocked his head at his new companion. “You… wish to get frostbite?”
“bIjatlh ‘e’ ylmev!”
“I don’t think the universal translator got that one,” Carter said, tapping at his combadge.
“It is just as well.” Rek’Vada sat down, leaning his back against the wall and putting his wet, cold boots closer to the fire. “We appear to be in a lull of some kind. Perhaps we have defeated this program.”
“I wouldn’t count on it,” Carter said. “From what I’ve heard, this thing just keeps going until you stop or it beats you.” He sat down next to the Klingon.
“Well, then.” The old warrior said, “I have no intention of stopping. Do you, Carter?”
Whatever Carter might have said was drowned out by the loudest roar Rek’Vada had heard in this lifetime. It sounded like a warp core exploding. Carter held up a finger and peeked around the corner.
What he saw must have deeply concerned him. The color had drained from his face. “Rek’Vada,” He said, “Do they have dinosaurs on Qo’noS?”
“Dino-what? I have never heard of such a thing.”
“Just as well,” Carter said, suddenly gripping his phaser tighter. “This one has missiles.”
Rek’Vada heard the sound of gigantic footsteps stomping towards them. He placed his bat’leth on the ground like a cane and struggled to his feet. “Well,” he said, extending a hand to Carter, “a creature that large must be worth at least ten.”
“Twenty,” Carter said, a gleam in his eye.
“Done,” Rek’Vada raised his bat’leth and stepped away from the wall. Carter stood next to him, setting his phaser to maximum power. “Carter, do you know what we Klingons say at a time like this?”
Carter lowered his voice and stuck out his front teeth in a surprisingly accurate Klingon impersonation. “Today is a good day to die!”
“Exactly.” Rek’Vada looked at the man he had spent the last hour fighting beside. Despite everything, the human had not given up. He stuck out his hand, in the gesture he had seen human officers do. Carter took it.
“But perhaps it is better,” Rek’Vada said, “to die with a friend.”
The two men smiled at each other, raised their weapons, and charged around the corner with a roar.
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