"Maintain course and speed," Sompek ordered. "Program combat drills against superior Klingon ships and crews." Then he turned to Kell. "Come with me, Commander."
The office that led off of the bridge's starboard side was small compared to the Ab'Qaff's massive situation room, consisting of a desk, a few chairs and a computer station. But from the bat'leth mounted on the wall to the single warped and scorched section of deck plating (from the battle with the Tholians) that Sompek had insisted remain, it was his ship, and that made it more impressive. Sompek glanced at both features before he sat behind the desk and gestured for Kell to take a seat. "What do you know about the Khemorex Klinzhai?"
Kell grinned, her sharp teeth showing clearly. "That they don't exist. That is what our leadership tells us."
"The idea exists, even if no organized structure does. The idea that the Empire suffers from its association with the Federation. That we are weak, that we are no longer conquerers. That we are no longer strong." He gave her a hard look. "That we are no longer pure."
"Is it true?" Kell asked.
"You could die for openly questioning the Council," he said. Then he sighed."Of course we are who and what we are because of the alliances we make. But are we weaker?"
"Some would say that the wolf now lies with the sheep." She watched him for his reaction.
"The wolf understands when the sheep can be counted on as an ally. Especially against a common foe." Despite her challenging tone, Sompek felt that Kell would prove to be a loyal ally. "The fact is, we are only as weak as we allow ourselves to be. If we allow our alliance with the Federation to corrupt our culture then we are to blame. But the Federation has proven itself to be largely dependable. Would those calling themselves Khemorex Klinzhai sacrifice themselves to save one of our outposts from a Romulan attack?"
"No," she answered. "They would wait until both sides were exhausted from the fight and swoop in to pick up the pieces."
"That is not the strength of a true warrior. It is the fear of a coward."
"Permission to speak freely?" Kell asked stiffly.
"I feared that you were given this command because of who your father is. I thought that this new warship belonged in more experienced hands."
"Really." Under normal circumstances, his hand would be at his d'k tagh, but he was interested in what she had to say.
"Yes. I even anticipated having to kill you before the mission was over." She showed a feral grin.
"At least I know you put the mission first. It would be a shame if we had to kill each other before we reach the traitors."
She smiled back showing a mouthful of teeth. "We are not there yet."
Sompek laughed briefly. "If they are Khemorex Klinzhai, we can expect a ship geared more toward attack than defense. Reinforced forward shields, weaker aft shields."
"Fighting ourselves from a hundred years ago," she said.
"Yes. And unlike a typical mutiny, where we could destroy the ship and move along, we have been ordered to disable it, gather intelliigence, and attempt to capture its captain alive."
to be continued...