Unseen to sensors and the unaided eye, a K'Vort class bird of prey dropped out of warp and entered the Homeworld's system under impulse. It passed by seven dead worlds, devoid of natural life and mined to their core. It entered the gravimetric pull of the Homeworld and maneuvered through a debris field that stood as a monument to the planet's long gone, single moon, Praxis. The ship settled into a low stationary orbit over the overcrowded green world and dropped its cloak.
On the K'Vort's bridge, Joy Three was puzzled. "Is it customary for your ships to drop cloak after you enter orbit?"
Khrof smiled and stood from the command chair, "No. It would be dishonorable not to show your face when coming back to your home."
Bruce saw error in his answer. "But then why?"
"Due to the fact that there are more than a few renegade Klingons who see you and your kind as nothing more than Federation lackeys, I was under orders to ensure your safety by whatever means necessary. Which included remaining under cloak."
Three was obviously concerned. "There are that many who disapprove of our cultures alliance?"
Khrof nodded. "More than you would at first think. Gowron himself is against the union. He fought hard for the withdrawal from the Khitomer Accords, and does not want another tie to the Federation."
Bruce and Joy both had the same question, "Then why are we here?"
"You will understand in due time. Now, come. You are expected on the surface," Khrof smiled and made his way to the transporter room.
Bruce stood on the transporter pad, awaiting Joy to join him.
"It has been an enlightening journey Khrof, I thank you for your assistance, and for a gift of confidence, no matter how false."
He nodded slightly, "No need to thank me, I was only following orders." He suddenly took on an all to serious look and steeped closer to her. "Although I should not, I cannot let you go into an unknown battle totally blind."
"What do you mean go into battle? Another test?"
Khrof nodded and backed away, Joy stepped onto the pad and looked at him, "Thank you Khrof, you are 'most honorable'."
"Qapla' Joy. rIH!"
Joy rematerialized in a dark and humid jungle, surrounded by five burly Klingon soldiers.
"This is how it will be," she thought as the first one attacked..
He came charging straight on only to have Joy step aside, pull him forward even faster, rather than resisting his charge, and tag him carefully on a pressure point on the back of his neck. He was stunned, but not at all hurt. Another one came at her, slower this time, not wanting to repeat the mistake of his predecessor. The others watched without movement, statues waiting their turn. The Klingon and the android circled each other, each waiting for the other to make a move. The Klingon eventually saw how futile that path was with this android and made his strike. He went straight for her midsection in an attempt to drag her down. For once, Joy resisted the charge, just to change her pattern. She settled into a deep stance, anchored herself with a leg thrust back, and he hit her like a locomotive slamming into a mountain. With both organic and android briefly stationary, Three was able to reach down and use the same pressure point again. Two down.
Two down, five to go? The one she had left by the tree was gone with out a trace and the one at her feet had mysteriously disappeared. Something was - she scanned her memory for the right saying - rotten in the state of Denmark?
Yet another Klingon came at her, this time a female. And as impossible as it would seem she was putting into Joy as much strength as Joy had used to withstand the last assault. Peculiar? Yes. Impossible? Perhaps. Three had come up with a theory and was almost ready to test it. She headbutted the female just hard enough to make her stagger backward into another tree. She hit the tree full force and disappeared.
"Affirmative," Joy whispered to herself. She was in a holosuite. Yet another soldier came at her, only to fall victim to Joy's frustration at endless trails of physical strength and deadly skills. Joy's preferred soft style was forgotten. Tai chi and Aikido gave way to Bruce's Jeet Kune Do, still fluid, yet at the same time physical and deadly. In rapid order, seven more fell, and still five were standing, but it was clear to Joy that this holosuite was programmed to test Klingons, not androids. This 'test' was not worth her time.
"De'wI' lojmIt!" She called out in the native Klingon. The familiar holodeck arch appeared. She stepped through, still angry.
"Computer, end program," said an unknown voice. The jungle setting disappeared and an older Klingon stood facing Joy.
"Who are you? What is the meaning of this?"
"I am Moraf, consul to Council Leader Gowron. He ordered this surprise simulation to see how you would handle yourself in unarmed combat, and to see how long it would take you to figure out our little trick. Now, please follow me. All your questions will be answered in the Council Chambers.
Moraf led Joy to the great hall, where the entire High Council had convened, where Gowron sat atop his throne, and Bruce stood to the side.
Upon seeing Joy he came running to her, "Joy, thank goodness. They wouldn't tell me what they did with you. They just said that you were being tested."
"Something was tested. Don't worry about me. I'm fine."
Bruce fell silent, remembering a piece of advice from the HoloKirk. "Don't ever get Joy mad." Somehow, the Klingons had managed it. Well, they had always practiced with Joy guarding his back, when he started something stupid. He hoped they could make work it the other way around. It was a long way back to Mudd.
"How touching! Young servos reunited!" The sarcasm dripped from Gowron's lips. "Enough! I have already wasted enough time on you Federation slaves. I refuse to waste a minute more."
"Gowron, with all due respect," her voice implying that the amount of respect due was negligible, "you have wasted a good deal more of my time than I yours. Why?"
"Because that fool Karmak believes you and your people have potential, pah!"
Joy paused, and spoke in a voice much more sweet and reasonable. In fact, it was too sweet and reasonable. "I had no idea Karmak held that much sway." Somehow, her comment was not about Karmak's authority. It was about Gowron's.
Gowron's face twisted and contorted in anger, "He doesn't. He is an old fool, who..."
The entire High Council stood at the sound of that voice. Even the great Gowron fell silent. There was no doubt who could carry such authority and power. Kahless the Unforgettable.
Kahless marched into the chambers and boldly sat in Gowron's throne, daring him to challenge his authority. Gowron said nothing.
"Number Three, as Gowron said, you are here because Karmak feels you and your people hold potential for the Klingon Empire. And though our Council Leader doesn't fully agree with me, I trust Karmak's judgement."
Joy smiled and bowed, the time for anger past, the basic question answered. "Thank you, sir."
Khaless proceeded to dismiss the Council for the day, and led Joy and Bruce to a private meeting chamber.
"Accept my apologies for the deception which was employed on your arrival, Gowron was looking for a way to prove your uselessness before you even made it to the Council."
"Accepted, sir. Though I must say this continued testing is somewhat disconcerting."
"Do not worry, as long as I am here no one will dare challenge you again. You will get full support in all of your endeavors here. Those who don't cooperate will be dishonored."
Conversation proceeded for some time, over finalization of the treaty. Drinks were served, though Joy and Bruce stayed with water. A final agreement was reached.
Joy smiled. "I believe this will work out, sir. I am pleased to be in your favor."
"Pah. You have done nothing not to be." He gave her a somewhat crooked smile as he stood to retire for the night, "Tell me, Three. What do you think after a day in the Empire?"
She paused briefly on hearing the question, being obligated to give an honest answer, as always. If the martial tests were indeed over, she had managed to deal with Karmak well enough, and Kahless was Karmak's superior in both honor and dignity. In some ways Joy found the Klingons were easier to work with than Terrans. If you dealt with them honorably from a position of strength, they would respond in kind and work for mutual interest. She just could not forget that her real strength was based not on Tai Chi or Jeet Kune Do. Mudd's strength was based on its position behind the Federation border, and on Starfleet.
So she could answer Khaless sincerely, with half a quote. "There is an old Earth saying. 'It's a nice place to visit'."
She chose not to finish the statement, though Kahless heard the echoes well enough.
Cry Havoc? Should the Federation
Council let slip the Dogs of War?