Chapter One: How it all began
Kira Nerys, former member of the Shakaar resistance cell, second-in-command of the most important space station in the Alpha Quadrant, woke to the feeling of soft, smooth skin against her cheek. Moments later she registered the curvaceous female body pressed against her own naked flesh. She gently kissed the smooth skin without moving her head.
She knew that she should be slightly surprised at her strong reaction to the young woman sprawled in her bed. In a way it was completely out of character for her. Even with Bareil, it had taken them longer to end up in bed, but never before had anything felt so right. And remembering their late night actions, she sent a silent thank you to the spirit of Lo Paza who had taught a young Nerys how to please a female lover.
She inhaled the distinctive scent of sandalwood and leather, and mentally recalled the events that had ultimately given her this precious gift.
Jadzia had spent the better part of her duty shift complaining about the unreasonable expectations of Martok's wife, and during the party and the ensuing confrontation she had had a first hand experience of the volatile Lady of the House of Martok. She only had a superficial understanding of the Klingon language, but one didn't need to be a linguist to pick up on the tension and the aggressiveness between the two tall women.
The party was in full swing when Odo had appeared because someone had complained about the noise level. She had convinced him to let it go this time, and instead of continuing to avoid each other, as they had done since the liberation of the station, they decided to talk. But before they retreated in Jadzia's walk-in closet, Sirella had made her appearance, shouting at Lieutenant Atoa who seemed to be sitting too close to Jadzia Dax.
"You -- leave her or I'll cut your head off and hang it from my belt."
The bare-chested young man looked at her without the shadow of understanding, but Dax was already on her feet, growling.
"I'll take care of this."
Atoa decided that it would be wiser not to come between the two of them and retreated into the crowd.
"You were not invited." Dax' good mood from earlier had been replaced with a cold fury only a few of the people present would even suspect the easy going officer capable.
The tall Klingon woman, however, was utterly unimpressed with Dax' display. "It is time for the Bre'Nan ritual."
"I'm busy," Dax snarled and began to turn her back to Sirella.
"Busy acting like a Risian slut."
Dax froze in mid-step and turned back, slowly. By then the whole room had become aware of the changed atmosphere. The band stopped playing and all eyes seem glued to the oblivious women.
"I'm only going to ask you to leave once." The threat was evident in Dax' words.
But Sirella was far from backing down. "You will come with me now and perform the Bre'Nan ritual to my satisfaction or I will cancel your wedding."
Suddenly, the whole room fell silent and Dax' cursing sounded very harsh and loud. "Toruk-DOH!"
Sirella acted on instinct. No Klingon would have been able to let such an insult go. She pulled her Dagtagh from her belt but Dax is not an easy prey. The edge of her hand hit Sirella's wrist and the dagger fell to the floor while Jadzia's other hand collided firmly with the older woman's jaw. She staggered back but without going down and Nog and one of the Bajoran Deputies who had been with Odo tried to interfere.
Sirella stared at Dax but made no move to get past the armed Deputy; instead she spat out. "Mok'Ta vor, kash a'VEH!"
She then marched out, with the crowd giving her plenty of room. A moment of stunned silence followed her exit and the raven-haired beauty snapped them all back to the task at hand, "What are you all standing around for? The party's just getting started."
The night had given her the chance to clear the air between Odo and her; and now it seemed they were on the way to rebuild their former friendship. But she should have know that this would not be the last time she had seen the proud Lady of the House of Martok. In her heart, however, she could not help but thank the two stubborn women. She might never have gotten to know the woman still lying in her arms otherwise.
Chapter Two: The Klingon Way
"You can't expect Sirella to treat you like Curzon just because you carry his memories. To her, you're just a young woman who's decided to marry into her family. If you have to get down on your knees and kiss Sirella's boots, then that's what you have to do. And you know that. From the moment you decided to marry Worf, you've known that sooner or later, you'd have to bow down and show her the respect she's due."
Benjamin's words echoed in Jadzia's mind long after he had left. She knew that he was right but still held a full-blown debate with herself whether to give in or not. Curzon was especially adamant about not giving in to Lady Martok's demands. Toben, Eminy, Ordred, and even Torias, however, told her to listen to her heart and not her pride. As always it was Leia, her first host, who tipped the balance by reminding her of her own words.
"I guess it's time for me to grow up, too."
She slowly rose from her couch and walked over to her comm unit. In the middle of punching the number of Sirella's temporary quarters she stopped. She had to do this in person, and she had to do this the right way, the Klingon way.
Jadzia knew that as an outsider who wanted to join a prestigious Klingon house she would have to humble herself. There simply was no other way, and there also was no point in stalling any longer.
But still she could not bring herself to use the turbo lift to get to the other side of the station where the VIP quarters were located. Instead she swiftly passed the length of the almost deserted corridors, and crossed the promenade to reach the other side of the habitat ring.
The tall woman rang the door chime and lowered herself to her right knee. She knew that protocol demanded that she be on both knees, like the supplicant she was, but somehow this was a step she could not take - she was not ready to take - despite her best intentions.
The door swished open and suddenly she felt a presence next to her. It would be inappropriate to turn her head but the scent was very familiar.
"What do you want, females?" The haughty voice of General Martok's wife asked.
"Sirella joH, Jadzia, daughter of Kela, offers her sincere apologies for acting like a Duj ngaDha'. I'm Nerys, daughter of Merou. I speak as Jadzia's friend and sister-in-arms. To repair the rift between us we invoke DIb quv tob."
It took all of Jadzia's three hundred years of self-control not no jump to her feet at her friend's words, not only at being called the equivalent of an irresponsible child, but also because she hadn't had the faintest idea that the Bajoran knew anything about Klingon customs.
The Lady of the house of Martok seemed as surprise by this turn of events as Jadzia was but she quickly recovered. "qabwlj vlSo'be'."
Then, another, younger voice continued. "Your challenge is accepted, daughter of Kela. One hour from now, we'll need a big empty room to do this."
"Cargo bay four has been prepared. Odo, our chief of security will escort you."
The door closed and Jadzia accepted her friend's helping hand to get back on her feet. She seemed half in a daze and started to automatically walk to the cargo bay. Suddenly, she stopped and turned to Nerys who was casually strolling at her side.
"I can't let you do this, Nerys. It's too dangerous and Benjamin would never condone a duel to death on his station."
"It's done, Jadzia, and as the station's executive officer I'll take full responsibility. Besides, I was told that the DIb quv tob, the Right to prove one's honour is not a fight to the death. We'll only have to fight them to a standstill. That's why it won't be just between Sirella and you, but also a fight between her friend and me."
"You planned this, you and this stranger? How? Why?"
"Yes, she told me about this DIb quv tob thing. She said that a friend of her grandfather asked for her help. Odo has reluctantly agreed to act as a neutral observer. Everything is ready."
"I still can't let you do it. You don't have any experience fighting with a bat'leth. You could get hurt, Nerys. I don't hold my pride higher than your safety."
"I told you, Jadzia. It's done. I'm not Klingon but Bajorans have just as strong a sense of honour as they do. And by initiating this duel or whatever you want to call it I put my honour at stake as well as yours. There's no way to back down now. - Let's go to the cargo bay, you can show me a few moves with this over-sized knife the Klingons love so much."
The young Starfleet officer looked at Kira with big disbelieving eyes and burst out laughing when she saw the twinkle in her friend's eyes. "You know that you're completely out of your mind, right?"
"That's what friends are for, Jadzia."
The raven-head impulsively hugged her smaller friend and they stepped into a turbo lift.
Half an hour later, Jadzia began to feel cautiously optimistic that they at least stood a chance to save their faces. The Bajoran Major was a natural with the bat'leth.
Exactly on time the cargo bay door opened to Odo and their opponents. Sirella looked very impressive in her battle armour with the deadly blade cradled in her arms.
The other woman was almost half a head shorter with wavy dark hair held back by a leather thong. Her forehead ridges were less pronounced than one would usually expect but she held herself with pride and the casual way she carried her bat'leth at her side spoke of confidence and great familiarity with the weapon.
"DIb quv tob has been granted to you, nov'pu. I am B'Elanna, daughter of Miral, and I stand beside Sirella, joH of the House of Martok. May Kahless be with us."
"DIb quv tob will seal the rift. I am Nerys, daughter of Merou. May the prophets guide our blades."
Kira and B'Elanna bowed to each other without breaking eye contact.
Odo raised his right arm and called. "mog! Begin!"
Sirella and Jadzia immediately circled each other like two predators fighting over a hunting ground. They rushed at each other with force and the loud clanging of their weapons finally also propelled the other two combatants into action.
B'Elanna handled the big weapon with the ease of an expert but Nery's instincts had been honed in years of fighting against Cardassians twice as big and three times as heavy as herself. The ex-freedom fighter didn't care for style or elegance but for effectiveness. Reflexes sharpened since she was barely in her teens kicked in when the young Klingon picked up the speed of her attacks.
The redhead felt the impact of the blade against her own all the way down to her shoulders. She instinctively deflected the weapon and tried to attack her opponent's side. Her swing was blocked and she barely avoided being swept from her feet by the younger woman's right leg. Using her momentum she swirled around and aimed for the other side.
Nerys could see the sparkle in the Klingon's eyes. B'Elanna obviously was having fun and to her utter surprise she found the feeling rather contagious and offered a grin of her own.
If she had taken the time to think about it, she probably would have berated herself. Fighting was not supposed to be fun; it was something one had to do to survive. She would have asked herself what Kai Opaka would have said to her feelings; but instead of thinking she just went with the flow.
Later, she could only describe it as an eerie familiarity, as if this had not been the first time they had crossed blades. Nerys was completely oblivious of Odo's evident surprise at the fighting prowess his Bajoran friend showed and also of the still less than friendly fight playing out at the other side of the big room.
Fighting never before had been even remotely sensual but now she could smell her opponent's scent: sweat, leather, sandalwood, and something she couldn't identify. It distracted her from their intricate dance and the business end of a bat'leth sliced through the fabric of her uniform. She immediately refocused and landed a lucky shot to B'Elanna's ribs with the flat of her blade.
Suddenly their weapons were locked one in the other and a grunt of pain made them both look to the other fighters. By silent accord they resumed their own fight and began to close the gap to the other pair. They deliberately manoeuvred themselves in the range of Jadzia's and Sirella's weapons and with a quick shuffle and shift had traded opponents. Nerys now was facing the older Klingon and B'Elanna had to fend off Jadzia's attacks.
Sirella relied a lot more on pure strength and constantly tried to overpower the smaller woman but the Bajoran countered with speed and flexibility. Nerys' weapon cut the Klingon right above her left eyebrow but the attack had left her open for a reverse sweep. The bat'leth hit her ribs with enough force to propel her to the ground. A familiar stab of pain let her know that at least one of her ribs was cracked.
Out of the corner of her eyes she saw Odo move, ready to interfere but she stopped him with a hand signal. She got back on her feet and attacked with a flurry of movements that drove Sirella back. The woman stumbled and landed on her back.
Every single one of Nerys' battle-honed instincts screamed at her to end this fight once and for all but she held her gut reaction in check and waited for Sirella to get back on her feet.
During the next few minutes, the Bajoran had to remind herself that this fight was not about life and death. It was not about saving the life of a friend. So, she pulled some of her blows and quickly became aware that the older Klingon was doing the same. A couple of cuts and bruises were testament that this was not the sensual dance she had shared with B'Elanna, but it also wasn't the angry confrontation she had expected.
Finally Sirella took a step back and shouted. "pemev! Stop! It's enough! yImev! Jadzia, Martok tuq puqbe'. I, Sirella, Lady of the House of Martok declare in front of these witnesses that you Jadzia, daughter of Kela, are worthy to be a part of the House of Martok."
The Trill's mind had a hard time to cope with this sudden announcement but she at least had the presence of mind to give the expected answer.
"Sirella joH, I am honoured to become a part of your house. May my bat'leth serve the House of Martok well." Jadzia lowered herself on her right knee and offered her weapon to the Klingon on her outstretched arms.
"Rise, Jadzia of the House of Martok and be welcome." The tall woman kissed Jadzia's cheeks, pulled her in a hug, and whispered. "You choose your friends well."
She let go of the raven-head and turned her attention to Nerys. "Kira Nerys, daughter of Merou, you are a true warrior. You have SuvwI toDuj, the courage of a warrior. I will see you all this evening."
Sirella swiftly turned around and left the cargo bay. Shortly after Odo herded the other three women to Julian's infirmary where one of his nurses tended their minor injuries.
Chapter Three: Fall-out
A few hours later, Kira Nerys, Jadzia Dax, B'Elanna, and Sirella were standing in front of Captain Benjamin Sisko's desk which was flanked by a stony faced Constable and a rather confused and contrite looking Chief Medical Officer.
Sisko's command mask was firmly in place. "Doctor, see to it that I won't have to learn about the injuries of my senior officers via the night shift report ever again. Is that clear?"
"Crystal clear, Sir."
The young man hightailed it out of his superior's office, relieved to be off the hook, at least for the moment. The closed door, however, didn't do much to contain the captain's angry voice.
"Ladies, what the hell were you thinking?"
There was no answer.
"My second-in-command, my science officer, the Lady of a prestigious Klingon house, and the respected Chief Engineer of a Bird of Prey fighting in my cargo bay like a damn group of irresponsible children and to top it all off, my chief of security is with them in the cargo bay and doesn't even lift a finger to stop them.
"You disregarded Starfleet regulations and deliberately violated station protocol. I'd really love to throw you all in the brig and forget the access codes. So, what do you have to say for yourselves? Lady Sirella?"
"Captain Sisko, will all due respect to your office, what happened last night is none of your business. It only regards the House of Martok and its allies," Sirella answered coldly.
"That's what General Martok told me. However, it happened on my station and involved my officers, that makes it my business."
"Captain Sisko, as your second-in-command I take full responsibility for what happened. I made a command decision and I stand by it, Sir." Major Kira was standing ramrod straight with her hands clasped behind her back. She avoided looking her superior officer in the eyes. "I'm sorry, I disappointed you, Emissary."
"Captain Sisko," the younger Klingon spoke up, "it was my idea to clear the air by performing the DIb quv tob, the Right to prove one's honour. My idea, my responsibility, qaH."
"Lieutenant Dax, do you have anything to say?"
"Sir, no, Sir. We both know that this whole thing only happened because of my damn pride. So, no, I don't have any explanations or excuses to offer, Sir."
"Well said, old man, and don't you forget that you're absolutely right. In the end it worked; that's why I will let you all off the hook - this time. And in the future I want you to keep your Klingon problem solving off my station. And now, get out of here. We all have a marriage ceremony to prepare. - Constable, could I have another moment?"
"You're the only one who didn't say anything or tried to take the blame."
"There was nothing to say, Captain. I owed it to Major Kira to support the plan. During the occupation I let her down and I will not allow anything like that to happen ever again."
Benjamin Sisko's command mask was replaced with a pensive expression. He still wasn't entirely sure what to think about the whole thing but for once he decided not to look a gift horse too deeply into the mouth but he also knew that he would not be able to completely relax until after the ceremony.
Chapter Four: It Is Said That What Takes Long?
Kira Nerys stood next to the young Klingon she had fought only the night before and witnessed her best friend getting married. Sirella's strong voice rang through Quark's and while she spoke it was as if something in Nerys' mind responded to the story.
"With fire and steel did the gods forge the Klingon heart. So fiercely did it beat, so loud was the sound, that the gods cried out: 'On this day we have brought forth the strongest heart in all the heavens. None can stand before it without trembling at its strength.'
"But then the Klingon heart weakened, its steady rhythm faltered and the gods said, 'Why do you weaken so? We have made you the strongest in all of creation.' And the heart said?"
Worf had joined her on the platform and answered. "I? am alone."
"And," Sirella continued, "the gods knew that they had erred. So they went back to their forge and brought forth another heart?"
Sirella stretched a hand out and the crowd parted to clear a path for Dax. More than one gasp was heard at her regal appearance. Dressed in a revealing red dress with a form fitting top and slits in the wide skirt she made Nerys swallow hard. She strode right up to the platform and faced Worf. Alexander handed them the highly polished bath'leths he had been holding and they took them without even acknowledging his presence.
Sirella continued the tale. "But the second heart beat stronger than the first, and the first was jealous of its power."
Worf attacked Dax in an exaggeratingly slow motion and she parried the blow easily, slipped her blade under his guard and pressed it against his neck.
"Fortunately, the second heart was tempered by wisdom."
Sirella nodded towards Jadzia and the young woman said. "If we join together no force can stop us."
Jadzia lowered the weapon. They grabbed the other in a warrior's handshake and pulled each other close until their faces were only inches apart.
"And when the two hearts began to beat together, they filled the heavens with a terrible sound. For the first time, the gods knew fear. They tried to flee, but it was too late. The Klingon hearts destroyed the gods who created them and turned the heavens to ashes. To this very day, no one can oppose the beating of two Klingon hearts... Not even me," Sirella's last words were spoken quietly, meant for Jadzia alone.
Nerys saw the relief on her friends face. Jadzia had been afraid that the older woman's acceptance had not been genuine but now she knew that she really had been accepted. She was happy for the Trill but the story puzzled her; not so much for its content but more for her reaction to it. It stirred something deep within her, something she never had felt with Shakaar or even Bareil. It was as if an abandoned part of herself suddenly was reaching out.
She had been so deep in thought that she missed Worf's part of the vows.
"Jadzia, daughter of Kela, does your heart beat only for this man."
"And do you swear to join with him and stand with him against all who oppose you?"
"Then let all present here today know that this man and this woman? are married."
Her last word was almost drowned in the cheer from the crowd to the passionate kiss of the newly wed couple.
"Are you alright, Major? You look pensive."
"Please call me Nerys," the Bajoran answered. "You are entitled to after drawing my blood." She unconsciously rubbed her still sore arm.
"I'm sorry I injured you. It was an accident. Want me to go to the infirmary with you? A dermal regenerator will easily get rid of it."
"No, it's only a scratch. I'd like to keep it for a while, as a memory of sorts," the redhead answered distractedly while Dax bowed her head in front of Sirella and is embraced in return.
She missed the raised eyebrow of the young Klingon. "Please call me B'Elanna. - It's a wonderful story."
"Yes, it is, very Klingon, though. I can't imagine a Bajoran thinking of killing the Prophets."
"Our legends tell that it wasn't intentional. The gods just created something that was much stronger than they imagined, too strong to control. When Kahless and his Lady Locara fought in the great hall, they prevailed against their enemies because they were secure in the strength of their love. Sometimes Klingons do have a very romantic side."
"Jadzia told me the story. It still is very Klingon: making love after killing supposedly thousands of enemies."
"Perhaps one can only understand it with the heart, not with the head." After a moment of awkward silence B'Elanna added, "Would you mind telling me more about your gods, your Prophets, about what Bajorans believe in, Nerys."
Surprise visibly registered on the Major's face. "Yes, I know, Klingons are not known for their interests in other cultures."
"But you are not like other Klingons, aren't you?" Nerys' voice was slightly teasing as she turned her attention completely to the other woman.
"I'm only half-Klingon. My father is human. He left us when I was five and my mother returned with me to her family on Qo'nos. To me it was as if I suddenly had been freed from tight restraints. For the first time no one told me to be careful when I played; no one told me to slow down to give the other children a chance. I suddenly no longer was the best or the fastest, but it gave me something to strive for. For the first time in my life I felt comfortable and at home.
"My mother, however, insisted that I also get to know the other half of my heritage, and though my father had left her, she still was in contact with my paternal grandparents. Every year I spent at least four weeks with them. My grand-dad taught me a lot about other cultures. He was a professor."
B'Elanna didn't know why she was so open with this woman who basically was still a stranger but it felt right, and her grand-father had also taught her to trust her gut instinct.
"Let's congratulate the happy couple and find somewhere a bit quieter to talk. I don't really like crowds and I don't want to shout while speaking about the Prophets."
"Best idea I heard since getting chewed out by my new commanding officer." B'Elanna reacted to the concern in Nerys' face. "There's no need to worry. I was already on my way to DS9 when I got the message about the troubles between Dax and Lady Sirella. I was about to join the crew of the Rota'ran as their new jonpIn, their chief of engineering. I had to pull a few strings to get assigned to the front lines and General Martok was none too happy to see me in harm's way. I've known him since our move to Qo'nos and he sees me as some kind of adoptive daughter."
"So, the General called you?"
"No, he didn't know that I was coming. I managed to delay the arrival of the new crew manifest 'til this morning. No, my mother's family has long standing ties with some of the more prestigious Houses of the Empire. One of them is a friend of Dax. His name is Kor and though he in the beginning was trying to hold Martok back, he now is keeping a favourable eye on the General and his House. He asked me to help, and I never would refuse a request from the Da'har master."
"What would you like to know about the Prophets?"
They talked for hours and finally retreated to Nerys' quarters as soon as the wedding festivities began to spill out of the confines of Quark's and onto the rest of the promenade. But talking was not all they did?
Epilogue: ? Ends Well
A smile crept on Nerys' face when she thought about what they had done for the better part of the night. She reluctantly opened her eyes and was greeted by intense brown orbs.
"Good morning, Bella."
"Good morning, Nerys," the younger woman answered.
They looked at each other for a long time.
Finally the Klingon-human hybrid said, "I don't want this to be a one time thing."
"Neither do I, B'Elanna, daughter of Miral. Does this mean that you'll be my, what did Dax call it, my parmal?"
"Parmaq'qay. Yes, I'd like to be your beloved and I'd like you to be mine."
Approximative translation of Klingon terms:
The Klingon I use is in its majority based on: Mark Okrand: Star Trek: Klingon For the Galactic Traveler. New York, London, Toronto, Sydney, Singapore: Pocket Books, 1997.
|"Toruk-DoH!"||[an especially strong Klingon curse of which I was unable to find a translation]|
|"Mok'Ta vor, kash a'VEH!"||You are an enemy of my house!|
|"joH"||Lady [i.e. female leader of a House]|
|"Dug ngaDHa'"||[undisciplined person]|
|"DIb guv tob"||the Right to prove one's honour|
|"qabwIj vISo'be"||I accept your challenge [literally: I don't hide my face]|
|"Martok tuq puqbe'"||daughter of the House of Martok|
|"SuvwI toDuj"||a warrior's courage|
|"jonpIn"||chief of engineering|
|"Qo'nos"||Kronos [name of the Klingon homeworld and its capital|
|"Parmaq'qay"||beloved one [romantic partner]|