The Myeldric Ocean stretched as far as Mek’s eyes could see. The Pelian sun glinted, sparkling across each choppy undulation as his boat gently rose and fell. It was as if Beta Moon itself was breathing, and on every wave Mek could see a little further inland as the hull was carried up on the upswell. The salt air swept across the foam edged peaks, bringing with it distant caws of circling gulls that peered down for morsels in the churn below.
He tugged on the halyard, taking the last of the slack from the mainsail. The wind fell in behind and the sloop kept a steady speed, cutting a straight path on the afternoon currents. The boat’s wake radiated out from the stern in a v-shape, inviting in those rays of sunlight that skimmed across the water’s surface. Glittering on the side of the boat, lettering painted in a neat black sans read simply, “Moonrise”.
What was left of Mek’s grey hair was tousled and blown about by the crosswinds. His skin was reddened from the constant buffeting he’d received on the journey out. Eyes squinting in the low sun, a smile crossed his face as the sloop picked up speed. He ducked his head momentarily and the boom swung across the deck. It was time to see what lay on the other side of the headland.
From nowhere, a chime sounded, “Task Force Ops to Captain Mek.”
“What is it?” He asked, annoyance clear in his tone.
“Ambassador Grecht is here, sir. Says he wants to speak with you.”
Mek winced, “Can it wait?”
“Uhhh, he says he wants to relay a message from general Metraq.”
Sighing audibly, Mek lifted his hand from the tiller and stood up, “Computer, end programme.” All that surrounded him dissipated in a holographic fizz. The land, sky, clouds and waters of Peliar Zel Beta were replaced by the luminous crisscross of the holo emitters, “Tell him I’m on my way.”
There was nothing but awkward silence as Grecht, large even for a Klingon, glowered over the junior Lieutenant.
“Perhaps a raktajino while you wait, Ambassador?” The nervous officer asked with uncertainty.
Grecht looked through him, and further still through the glass front of Mek’s office. He could make out only a few of the Captain’s personal effects. These were, in Grecht’s opinion, dull even for the greyest of the grey Starfleet bureaucrats. They consisted of a holo image, a diploma hanging on the wall, and a series of model sailing boats. The simplicity of what the latter represented as a pastime confounded Grecht more than the sterile chambers in which Mek and others of his kind ensconced themselves. There was no vigour to it, little risk of death and no chance of glory. What simplistic, unenriched lives these people led. Yet they seemed not to mind.
It was Grecht’s curiosity, described to him by others as a somewhat un-Klingon trait, that had allowed him to live amongst Starfleet for as long as he had. He’d been as disdainful as any watching them scurry around in their pristine uniforms, sidearms stowed, their martial culture shunned. To many Klingons this was an affront; a shying away from that which they held up with pride. But, as best as Grecht could tell from his years working alongside Starfleet, it was an organisation of contradictions. There was a fierceness and utmost bravery within them, not far under the surface. All one needed to do in order to see this for oneself was to be in the unenviable position of having crossed them, or worse still, having triggered their moral indignation.
Of course, his current train of thought was something of a contradiction itself. It was not a Klingon’s place to engage in such whimsy. He was here, he represented the interests of the Empire, and that was that. There was no honour in indulgent introspection. He laughed idly to himself at the prospect. The young Lieutenant, still standing nearby, shifted uncomfortably.
Then suddenly, “Grecht!” Another Klingon voice exploded from the turbolift doors, decidedly deeper and more guttural than his own, “Where is Mek? What are you doing loitering around here like a lost D’Gresh hound?”
“General Metraq,” Grecht nodded towards the approaching warrior who wore the uniform of the Klingon Defence Force, “Captain Mek has yet to arrive.”
“He keeps us waiting?” Grecht’s genial demeanour took a turn.
Arms folded, Grecht stared down at Metraq, “The station is large, General. We would do well to allow the Captain some time to reach us.”
“An honourable warrior would be sure to arrive before his guests,” Metraq scoffed.
“Honourable warriors,” Grecht cautioned, “would stand by their allies in a time of crisis. Let us not forget that we are the ones who now seek to rebuild trust.”
Metraq’s face soured, but he remained silent. This proved to be a fortuitous decision, because at that very moment the turbolift doors swooshed open to reveal the disgruntled form of Captain Erill’Yun Mek.
“I trust you’ve not been waiting long, gentlemen.” He called out as he walked the length of the short corridor that marked the entrance to Task Force 86 Ops. The polite words conflicted with the glib manner in which they were delivered. Mek didn’t really care.
“Good day, Captain.” Grecht began. His eyes flicked quickly to Metraq, then back again to Mek, “We… Regret to disturb you in your off-duty hours.”
Metraq rolled his eyes.
Grunting in acknowledgement, Mek shooed the considerably relieved Lieutenant away with a wave of his hand then ushered the Klingons into his office. He took his seat behind the desk. He’d been off duty for twelve hours, and already the viewer built into the desk displayed countless notifications and internal messages. Pinching the bridge of his nose between his thumb and forefinger, Mek sighed, “So, General, Ambassador, how can I help you?”
Metraq leaned back on the chair, looking as though he would have been more at home on a metal slab. Another side-eye shot his way from Grecht, who began his explanation, “Captain, we bring news of our archaeological site, in the Azure Nebula.”
No longer only half listening, Mek sat forward, “683-Lambda?”
“What about it?”
“Three days ago, all contact with the outpost was lost.”
“Three days?” Gobsmacked, Mek turned to Metraq in hope that the General might correct his colleague. Metraq barely moved.
Grecht inhaled, “We were ourselves informed only 24 hours ago. Communications within the Nebula-”
“Tell me you’ve sent a ship?”
Metraq broke his silence, “You think us fools? Cowards? We may not celebrate our scientific work as overtly as you do, Captain, but those Klingons are warriors just like the rest of us! To suggest we would abandon soldiers of the Empire is to cast dishonour over all our houses.”
Mek did his best to ignore the General’s remonstrations, “Then what were the findings? Your ship must be within sensor range by now, even with the nebula scrambling things.”
Grecht looked grim-faced as he explained, “The IKS Brecht was dispatched two days ago to investigate. Upon its arrival at the outpost, all contact with our ship was also lost.”
Mek paused for a moment in disbelief, “Oh.”
Metraq filled the gap, “As allies, we thought it prudent to warn you, in case Starfleet has any assets in the area.”
“Perhaps Starfleet could be of some assistance?” Mek ventured.
Metraq scowled, “Pah! An entire ship of warriors, gone! All that remains is to vanquish whatever foe lies in that Nebula. We shall dispatch more ships in due course, but please Captain, heed our warning.”
“Very well, General Metraq. I’ll inform Commodore Tharc and our commanders immediately.” Mek saw no reason to push further, despite remaining slightly puzzled, “We appreciate you bringing this to our attention.”
“Hmph,” Metraq grunted, “Whoever is responsible for this will rue the day they crossed the Empire.”
“Im sure.” Mek nodded, “Nevertheless, Starfleet stands ready to assist.”
Metraq’s head tipped back and a peal of hearty laughter poured forth. Flecks of spittle flew across the room, narrowly avoiding Mek as he looked on in silence. After a few seconds of this Metraq looked up again, wiping his chin, “Very funny, Captain. Next you’ll be telling me to make peace with whoever’s responsible.” He rose from the chair, “I’ve heard enough. Good day to you both.”
Grecht and Mek watched as the General swooped out of the room, trailed by a long mane of black curls. The glass door slid shut in his wake. Grecht shook his head, “Captain, I must explain. To lose a ship in this way, without explanation… For the General this is a great loss of honour.”
“I had a feeling honour might have something to do with it,” Mek said, stony faced.
Grecht frowned, “Yes. It is difficult for a Klingon to ask for help.”
“This, I can also see.”
“Metraq’s position is weak. Should any more of the Empire’s vessels go missing, he will be disgraced.”
Mek merely raised an eyebrow, “And I should care why? Seems like it’s his reluctance to share information that’s gotten him into this mess in the first place. Not to mention the Omega debacle.”
“True, Captain.” Grecht could not help but agree, “But there are more productive paths to take.”
“I don’t know, Ambassador, having General Metraq banished out of harm’s way sounds productive enough for me.”
Grecht held back a smile, “Have your ships on standby. If Metraq’s operation succeeds, all is well. If not, you can render assistance, and we can all learn the true nature of this threat.” Grecht stood, “You’d salvage his honour. He’d be in your debt.”
“That’s now how we do things, Grecht. Personal favours mean nothing to me.”
“Ha, I know.” Grecht smiled, “But it is the best outcome here for all; something that would appeal more to your Starfleet sensibilities. Think about it, Captain.” He turned to leave, “What is it the humans would say? Let cooler heads prevail.”
Before Mek could blink away the confusion of hearing a Klingon rationalise with a human turn of phrase, Grecht was gone. He sat for a minute in silence. Then two. Then three. Then he decided.
“Computer, open a channel to the USS Majestic.”