Angel of Vengeance
Stardate 8130.4, Mutara Sector
The ship listed amid the deep violet vapors and cerulean discharges of the nebula, its once pristine hull scorched and broken in a dozen places. Angry black gashes marked the dorsal and ventral sides of the saucer while the primary weapons and impulse arrays were a fiery ruin. The port warp pylon ended in a jagged stump, venting warp plasma into the void. In the distance, its erstwhile opponent was doing its best to beat a hasty retreat but its own very noticeable battle wounds were greatly hindering its progress.
The bridge of the starship fared little better than the rest of the vessel. There were no hull breaches, thankfully, but the air was filled with acrid smoke from several burning stations and the smell of charred flesh. “Is it my own flesh I smell,” mused the burned man, “or is it the flesh of my brothers and sisters?”
He had just barely regained consciousness after activating the weapon and hurling one final curse at the ship, the crew and the man who had bested him yet again for what seemed, the final time. The burned man took comfort in the fact that his hated nemesis would not escape the blast radius before the weapon reached the end of its countdown sequence and wiped them all from existence with the fires of creation itself.
Despite the excruciating pain, he managed to drag his burned and broken body back into the central command chair. He would meet his fate with a dignity worthy of his name, worthy of a Khan. From here he could see the digits on the display of the Genesis console inexorably counting down to their doom, a doom he would face proudly.
Pride, after all, was his greatest strength; this unwavering belief in his innate superiorty had seen him survive the Eugenics wars and years of exile on a hellish planet, it had brought him within a hairsbreadth of regaining not only complete victory over the hated James T. Kirk, but on the cusp of Godhood itself.
But was it not also pride that had doomed him? That same belief in his own intrinsic superiority had allowed him to underestimate Kirk for the second time, third if he counted the debacle with the command codes the previous day.
A strange stillness seemed to settle upon the bridge, muffling the multiple alerts issuing from every remaining undamaged console. Time itself was stretching out, yawning like a languid beast woken from its linear slumber. Everything from the image of the retreating USS Enterprise to the countdown on the Genesis console slowed to an almost imperceptible crawl. “Is this how death comes for me?” He asked the corpses around him. “Does he mock me by drawing out my final moments of anguish while robbing me of the chance to witness the moment of my final victory before he takes me on his dark wings?”
As if in answer, the shadows deepened, taking on form and substance, shaping itself into figures. They stood all around the bridge, their baleful blood-red eyes and pale grey skin, demonic visages the stuff of old horror movies.
“Is it Mephistopheles who sends his demons to collect me then?” he asked the silent assemblage.
Paying him little attention, they began moving about the bridge, scanning consoles and bodies alike, murmuring to one another and checking readouts on their handheld devices. A number of them converged on the on the genesis console, its 20 second countdown somehow reduced to a mere trickle. They attached a device to the Genesis console as well as several other stations. They spoke in a strange guttural language full of hisses and ululations and judging by their tone and demeanor, they were becoming increasingly agitated.
He chuckled then, blood burbling from the corner of his mouth, “you can’t shut it down, you know,” he said to them. All eyes turned to regard him as if truly noticing him for the first time. Two of their number, a male and what he assumed was a female stepped toward him.
“And why is that?” Asked the female.
“I deleted all shutdown command subroutines, I didn’t want anyone beaming over and disabling the countdown.”
The two aliens exchanged a look and the male began hurriedly issuing commands into a wrist communicator.
“You won’t be able to shut down the device itself manually either.” He said, referring to the actual Genesis device down in transporter room one. “I engineered several failsafe measures into both the hardware and the software; it will detonate at the barest hint of tampering.”
The female hissed in frustration and issued commands to several of the aliens attempting to access what was left of the functioning computer displays.
“If you’re looking for the plans in the ship database, also I deleted them, only one copy of the design remains.” Speaking was beginning to become a concerted effort, as was maintaining consciousness.
The female took his chin in her clawed hand, fixing him with a baleful gaze; “And just where is this copy?” she demanded in her harsh, raspy voice.
With considerable difficulty he lifted his gloved hand to his temple and whispered, “Up here,” as the darkness threatened to take him.
The female pressed something to his neck, a moment later he felt a cool tingling sensation spread form that point throughout his entire body. His vision returned as the excruciating pain he had been in began to subside. The female’s face was directly in front of him fuming with barely contained rage, “TELL ME!” She bellowed, “or I’ll leave you here to die!”
“Silly girl,” mocked Khan, “Do you think I am afraid of death?”
“I am no mere girl, human, I am Vreth of the-“
“I know what you are Nah’khul!” snapped, Khan, his strength finally returning. “Your kind has been known to me since the Eugenics Wars. One of your kind served me after I rescued him from a prison in Kirgizstan, they thought he was one of my augments. He told me much about your war against the Federation. You want revenge for what they did to your people, yes?”
“Yes, I want revenge,” she the growled.
“But what do you want?” asked Vreth.
“Why the very same as you, my dear,” replied Khan. “Revenge! Revenge against James Tiberius Kirk, and I shall have it!”
“Oh my dear Khan,” said Vreth condescendingly. “Kirk survives, fool! His pet Vuclan sacrifices his life to restore warp power to the Enterprise.”
“Then help me destroy Kirk,” he beseeched Vreth. “Give me my revenge and I shall give you Genesis.”
“Don’t you think we’ve tried?” she replied. “Agents of the Temporal accords guard him at all times, he’s not due to die for another century at least.”
“No!” bellowed Khan, “This cannot happen, I am superior!” Khan slumped back in his command chair, a burned and broken man in both body and spirit.
“Go,” he croaked, “leave me here to die. Let cruel fate have me.”
Vreth studied him thoughtfully for a moment. “The Great Khan,” she sneered, “Most cunning and mightiest of the Augments. What a sorry excuse for a genetically enhanced human you turned out to be.”
“I survived it all,” he retorted, outlived the petty governments that exiled me into the blackness of space, survived the hell that was Ceti Alpha Five, - I”
“-but you’ve decided to give up now, haven’t you? The lowly human that bloodied your nose a couple of times has taken the would-be Emperor of all humankind and turned him into this despondent wretch that sits before me.”
Vreth knelt in front of Khan, placing her clawed hands on his knees and leaning close to him almost tenderly. “Wouldn’t the best revenge be to destroy that which he devoted his entire life to protecting?” she asked softly.
“Come with me Khan, help us destroy the Federation and you shall have your revenge against Kirk and all the humans who rejected your rule!”
Khan considered her words, rolling them over in his mind. He saw the countdown timer on the Genesis device had reached 2, their time-manipulation technology was certainly beyond anything in this time period. It dawned on him that Kirk was simply a convenient target he projected all his bitterness and frustration at the human race for rejecting his benevolent rule. If they hadn’t rebelled there would never have been a third world war and their civilization would not have almost annihilated itself. Under his benign rule they would have reached the stars far before the Vulcans ever found them, creating an Empire, no, a Khanate that would have conquered all in their path.
Kirk had been a distraction from his own personal sense of failure but it was time he took ownership of his mistakes and learned from them. “You will take me with you, but I have certain conditions we must discuss before I reveal anything to you of Genesis, my dear.” Said Khan.
“Very well,” replied Vreth. “Gorsh, prepare for transport back to the ship and take Lord Khan directly to the medical bay to see to his injuries. Prepare for temporal shunt to our last coordinates. This works out better anyway,” she said to her second in command. “Reliant explodes and the Genesis planet is created and no one will be the wiser that we possess the Genesis technology until it is too late.”
“You don’t possess it yet,” said Khan, “but if you will be my angel of vengeance then I shall be yours and we will both get what we want.”
The countdown timer reached zero as the Nah’Khul and their new compatriot dissolved in the green light of a transporter beam.
Jacien Mandrake awoke from his nightmare drenched in sweat. He didn’t jerk upright in bed as there was a warm, fur-covered mass on his chest that could easily dig very sharp claws into him if displeased. Bast regarded him that unique combination apathy and intensity only feline species seemed to be able to muster. Her ice blue eyes met his dark brown ones and he knew what he had seen had been real and that the Aegis had sent him this ‘vision’ because they believed he could do something about it. But those events happened over a century ago, and as he knew, the Aegis only ever liked to act from ‘the present’ when attempting to preserve the timeline so that meant that Khan Noonien Singh was here, in this time period and was most likely ready to take his revenge at long last.
As if sensing his thoughts, Bast, who was so much more than she appeared, jumped nimbly from his chest and landed on the ledge by the viewport and promptly began to groom herself. Jacien walked from the bedroom to his workstation in his living quarters and began pulling up data on fleet movements, intelligence reports and long-range sensor data. If Khan had truly returned, he feared he the worse for the Federation and their Klingon and Romulan allies. The Nah’khul’s gambit had paid off and now they had a weapon of cataclysmic power at their disposal and a genius mad man to wield it.