“Commend Me to My Kind Lord”
The First City belongs to the warriors.
Change comes slowly to Qo'noS, and as the Empire struggled with itself and its ideals in the early second millennia of Kahless, even another thousand years of change would surely prove this one keystone could not be moved. Warriors alone can claim the First City.
To say that all Klingons are warriors is not mere posturing, but it also does not tell the whole story. It is true that a Klingon is taught from their first steps to walk in the shadow of death, unafraid, ready to look it in the eye and dare it to take them. What is oft forgotten is that only a fraction of this great people, who slew their own gods, belong formally to the ranks of the KDF.
Not only do the other powers, great and small, of the known quadrants forget this, but so too do the warriors of the First City forget the people who build their ships, their weapons, who make their uniforms, press and age their bloodwine. They tend not to concern themselves where the souls go of people who write their songs of battle, and their opera, who raise the worms for fresh racht
If a KDF officer is, however, on guard duty in the First City, they are very concerned indeed with the comings and goings of anyone on their streets that has no rank, or approval from a great house.
“Hold there, woman,” a guard called. “Your business.”
“Is my own,” the woman lifted her chin at his affront. She softened reluctantly, remembering her place. “And the business of the courts.”
She presented a pass for herself and the small, rambunctious girl child at her side, which the guard snorted at, passed to his compatriot, then ignored to more thoroughly eye her. “Look at Lady Sirella here,” he laughed, tossing her pass back to her. “Keep your skirts clean and the child close, 'mi'lady'
. The City is not a soft bed to lie in with your eyes closed.”
He laughed again at her passing, and the girl child, kept firmly in hand by her mother, nevertheless twisted in her grip just enough to growl at the guard. She was too young to take his meaning, but understood the tone well enough.
Her mother hauled her up then by one arm and tucked her against her bosom, encouraging better behavior with a good natured hiss and chuckle under her hood. “He deserves your ire, yes, little one,” she cooed, “But best for us to be finished and back ho--... well finished anyway. And not kept here in irons because my little targ
likes to snap at foolish men.”
The woman teased the child with a length of her own braid under the girl's nose, the ridges across its bridge only weeks old, and her first steps just a fortnight ago. The child gnawed at the braid and clung tight to her mother as they moved into the markets.
Here extended the great sprawl of stalls and cargo containers in the cave reserved for off world commerce, where aliens were allowed to ply their wares and make deals for everything from disruptors to voDchuch
silk. Few warriors here, and only a little more than half of them Klingons besides, but it suited the great houses and the High Council to have this bounty so close to their halls.
The noise and color fascinated the child, but kept her wary, her head turning like a point defense turret loaded with defensive barks and hungry looks at all the sumptuous excess. The only thing to hold her attention longer than a few moments also made her body go rigid and her breath still as she beheld a wonder unlike any known to her on the still half charred landscape of Narendra III. A funny little man with enormous ears and a great coat of many colors entertained a small crowd with a rainbow of flying silk handkerchiefs, which he kept flying as he juggled balls, pins, rings, an endless array of glimmering treasures. They would disappear into his coat, or the very air itself, and reappear just as suddenly, to the delight of most, and to the child most of all, who did her best to pull her mother towards the show by her own braids.
“Bah!” scoffed a warrior. “Tis foolish mummery, and cheap at that!”
“Oho, right you are, mighty one,” the Ferengi mountebank averred. “I dare say half the cost of any other foolery and twice as foolish, guaranteed!” He defused any ill will by making a bottle of prune juice appear in the center of a metal ring as he spun it on his counter, offering it to the warrior who smiled in spite of himself and took it, though grumbling about transporter tricks.
“And who is this little one, may I ask?” his attention was suddenly on the child and her mother.
“A busy matron with a--”
“Q'ama!” the little girl barked. Her mother looked at her a moment with calm resignation to her fate for the next few minutes, then sounded out the girl's proper name. “Q'ama'la, that's your name.”
“And how old are you, Q'ama'la?”
The child screwed her face up with effort, the ridges of her nose colliding into one another and turning her cheeks a darker plum. Eventually she held up a fist and counted out two fingers, waving them at the Ferengi.
“Two! You don't say... why I bet you'll be commanding a whole fleet in a few years time, if I know little Klingons, and I do. How I still have all my fingers is anyone's guess!”
Families laughed and shared knowing grins. One father slapped his son's hand from off of a wooden disruptor on the Ferengi's cart and glared. Q'ama'la simply glowed, happy from head to toe.
“Any captain worth his qapla'
needs a friend though, an ally, someone to watch his back,” The Ferengi continued thoughtfully. “And I bet I know just the... Aha!”
And from behind his cart he produced a beautiful, cream colored, stuffed Sehlat, with gold latinum button eyes, and a great big black tuft of fur on his tail. Q'ama'la was enraptured, unable to contain whines and growls of deepest need, but her mother held fast.
“Our house is true, but modest, merchant,” she said, bracing her spine and hardening her heart. “And we must to the court.”
“A gift then,” he said with finality. Others looked on, stunned. The woman turned to him incredulous, uncertain if he meant insult. “Or ...” he rethought, “rather, do me a favor. Commend me to your advocates when you get there, eh?”
“What business a toy maker with our advocates?” she raised an eyebrow.
“Pays to have a finger in all the rokegs
you can reach, let's say that. And ahhh,” he dropped his voice enough to respect her clear desire for privacy. “As a long standing patron of the arts, think of it as a small token of appreciation for one of the greats. Now let's make a little warrior's day while we're at it.”
The woman stared several long moments, then kneeled to set her child on her feet, hiding a slight blush in her cloak. “Go then, claim your prize,” she said. “And what do we say?”
Q'ama'la swept the gift into her arms with fierce joy, and roared at the Ferengi as best she could, “Qapla'
!” before head butting his knee.
“Oof!” he grunted. “I am undone, truly! May you find worthier foes than this poor fool.” With a wink he was instantly appealing to his crowd once more, “though I could leave here a richer fool by far if any here are moved to spend, hey hey, what have I brought for you today?”
Her hand closed that little bit tighter around her daughter's as they made their way through the market and away. The halls of judgment sat waiting for them, implacable, and anchored by centuries of doling out men's fates.
The territories here had been slowly colonized by the homes of wealthy advocates. They had grown only more clever in the centuries since Kolos stood for valorous justice across the Empire, arguing first that theirs is a warrior's work like any soldier, and thus were they entitled to the franchise, as well as homes in the city. Many would think then, in the days of Duras, Gowron, and more that while Kolos could still be found here, in effigy, a basalt monument before the courts, his vision was long gone. Many would think this, but they would not say it, not in hearing of those same courts.
At one large house, busy with the crowded passing of messengers, clerks, and petitioners, the woman shouldered her way through, head high, and dropped her hood at the threshold. She strode for the officer on watch to receive, heedless of the line or those seated, and intoned, “I am Shree, daughter of Va'athi. Tell your master I am here, with my daughter... and her grandfather's will.”
Her demand caused a stir, and consternation among the functionaries therein. Such commanding mien, so plain in every other respect, and a name nowhere on the rolls of honor, but still she stood, unmoving, unbent, even by the burden of all their curious or contemptuous glares and the weight of a restless girl child, who circled her mother like territory to guard from scavengers. It was several long moments before a voice answered from beyond the petitioner's pit.
“Send them in.” It called. “And let no one else pass.”
The torch lit chamber they were ushered into had been, like most of the oldest structures, hewn from the surrounding stone, a manifestation of the Klingon will to make of even the darkest, most unyielding of places a fertile bed for the Empire to flourish. The man therein, who smoothed his long, pointed eyebrows and beard as he regarded them both coolly, was much softer by comparison, except for his eyes, which could have been the force that made the rock surrender.
“He knows,” was all he said by way of greeting.
The woman took a seat and encouraged Q'ama'la to play by herself in the corner of the room. She took time adjusting her robe to her comfort and regarded him again with a slow blink. “He does,” she answered.
He steepled his fingers and paced slowly. As he raised a finger, about to think aloud, she cut him off. “Ch'Pok,” she said, not entirely without warmth. “There is no room for schemes here. It is done. Grandfather knows and he has already acted.”
“How so?” the advocate asked, leaning heavily against the table before her and crossing his arms.
“Does it matter?” she laughed mirthlessly. “A jealous cousin, a... scandalized inlaw, or mayhap blackmail, who can--”
“No, no,” Ch'Pok lowered his arms and voice. He regretted his defensive posture before her, gentling as he began to feel the joy of her presence again. He asked, “How has the old man acted, now that it's out?”
She grimaced. “Rab'n'drAth is disowned. It is not public, yet, but it is final. He would rather no heir at all than a...”
Ch'Pok pressed, “And his intentions regarding me?”
“I do perceive here a divided duty
...” Her eyes narrowed and the woman nearly flew into a rage, but for her daughter's precocious ears taking in every word. “You. You, Ch'Pok, have done rather well for yourself. Landed quite nicely on your feet since that business with the Son of Mogh, haven't you? You ... are too powerful, too far out of his reach, he knows this even in his wrath.”
The advocate sighed, and knelt before her. “I had to ask.” He took her hands in his and kissed them, which she did not resist. Against his every instinct as a lawyer, as a man with secrets, a past, he could not help but look past her to the child. Shree followed his gaze.
“Oh beware, my lord, of jealousy. The meat it feeds on
...” the woman said to him, guiding his face back to hers. “She is not yours.” Shree said, firmly but kindly. “That was the agreement.”
“But now,” Ch'Pok drew a pained breath. “Now she is no one's. She will be a no one. Unless...”
He shared his thoughts with a look, and she met it with tears. Angrily, but with dignity she wiped them away and continued, “She is not yours. My mate loved another when we were joined, and I knew this, and we made our way as best we could, with respect. With care. We had a duty. And when he could not give me child and our house an heir... we made an agreement. He, and I... and you.”
“All that's over now. I could ... my house...”
“Your house could not survive it, as powerful as you are,” Shree quieted him. “Rab'n'drAth has committed hegh'bat
--” she pressed a finger to Ch'Pok's lips when he looked to make a howl of mourning. “His lover was the man who gave him the blade, and he now has fled, with no one to give him his own. Now his father dare not say what he knows, but if you took her... if the old man thought it a move on what little he has left...”
Ch'Pok shook with a rage he was accustomed to baiting from others in the cut and thrust of rhetoric. “Though I do hate him as I do hell pains, yet, for necessity of present life, I must show out a flag and sign of love
.” He covered his face. “Shree... I am sorry.”
The sound of a d'k tahg
opening its blades echoed in the chamber. “So am I. Think on thy sins. They are loves I bear to you
“Advocate! Get down!”
Braziers spill their burning coals in the contention, a disruptor erupts bale fire. A child's cry and a terrible silence.
* * *
The sound of visitors materializing in the main courtyard of the academy shook the old Nausicaan to wakefeulness. Though easily twice the height of the stout Klingon before him, he showed curt deference all the same. “Advocate”, he said, crossing his arms. “Good you are not dead. And a close one, that I am told.”
“Yes, well... The time I spent here years ago was brief but valuable.” Ch'Pok said without looking at the Nausicaan.
“Clearly. And this is the one? With no house?”
“This is she.” Ch'Pok said, his hand hovering a moment above Q'ama'la's shoulder, indecisive.
The Nausicaan chose for them both and took the child by the arm directly. Here eyes grew wide as she learned quickly that her strength would avail her naught against this behemoth. “You, child! You will be remade here! You will bleed as we cut and chisel you into the very image of the Empire's wrath! But you shall not weep, you hear me?”
She could not quite grasp the man's intent and longed only for her mother. She clutched her stuffed Sehlat to her chest as he held her under her armpits before his face and growled, spitting and hissing and kicking out at the man who only laughed.
“This one fights, has guramba
,” the Nausicaan said, approving. “She will do well if she lives.”
“See that she does,” Ch'Pok said, adjusting his ceremonial armor. “She will have to find family here.”
“Mmm... this will only get in the way, I think.”
With casual, efficient cruelty, he ripped the Sehlat from her grip and held her by the back of her neck in one hand. He held it before her, watching her eyes track the toy and her arms struggle to reach it. He waited until he felt he could read in those wild depths whether the heart of a killer was in her or not, and decided there was only one way to be certain. He crushed her toy in his fist, sliced it open on his bladed gauntlet, and cast it into the dust.
He saw it then, what he was looking for. A soul that would burn white hot with hate, and in that flame would be consumed many enemies of the Empire.
“Get this one a bunk and a blade,” The Nausicaan shouted to an older youth. “And be quick about it.”
Ch'Pok resolutely looked away, and kept his back to her. Before he could register for transport, the Nausicaan behind him laughed again, asking, “Is it true?”
“Is what true?”
“The woman, who attacked you. Is it true she was ... an actress?”
Ch'Pok choked down his bile and looked across the academy. Hundreds, thousands of children, from across the Empire, each being bled, cut, shaped and forged. Whatever else they might be, whoever else they could be, tossed into a charnel pit a thousand years old or more.
“Demand me nothing
,” he said. “What you know, you know. From this time forth, I will never speak a word
The Nausicaan shrugged and turned his back on the last shimmer of the advocate's presence.
referencing DS9 episode "Rules of Engagement", and Shakespeare's "Othello"
Q'ama'la is my own character and this work is confirmed an original work of my own, I think this takes care of the rules, I hope?