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Next in Line

bybrunorivera©

Commander Worf's Personal Log StarDate 57275.2

We are en route to rendezvous with the scientific vessel USS Agustin Stahl, in order to transfer our first officer, Commander Martin Madden, so he can take command as interim captain. Their mission: studying systems closer to the center of the galaxy, where the cosmic forces are very intense, in order to corroborate observations and theories about subspace particles unknown until recently, as new sources of energy for ships, space stations and planets all over the quadrant. Lieutenant Junior Grade Giorgievich, in operations, warned:

"Captain, USS Stahl within transporter range."

"Acknowledged, Mr. Giorgievich. Signal shuttlecraft Data to go to meet Stahl."

"Shuttlecraft Data, you are cleared to dock with the Starship Stahl."

According to standard procedure, a new captain is not beamed to his or her ship, but rather travels by shuttlecraft, because there is old security in the transfer. The shuttlecraft can raise shields, use weapons and engage propulsion, and the mothership could protect the smaller one. Also, there have been accidents and there is the possibility of enemies or terrorists intercepting the beam.

Data is off to meet Stahl and captain Jean-Luc Picard announces:

"Commander Worf, starting from this moment, you are promoted to first officer. Congratulations!"

Other crewmembers applaud, but I direct them a look, in order to demand to maintain composure. The captain tells me:

"Number One, you have the bridge."

I answer:

"Aye-aye, Captain."

And he went to his ready room. He was off-duty, but he chose to be in charge of such an important maneuver. After a while, we hear:

"Shuttlecraft Data requesting to enter to the hangar."

I answer:

"Shuttlecraft Data, you are cleared. Shuttlebay two, this is Commander Worf: open your doors."

"Aye-aye, Commander."

After the retrieval of the shuttlecraft, the ship returns to our mission at Vosis VIII, a P-class planet, that normally would not harbor humanoid life, but with important dilithium and latinum deposits in purer form, difficult to find elsewhere in the galaxy. There ships of other galactic powers wait for us: Romulans, Ferengi, Cardassian, Bajoran, Dominion, and of course, my race, the Klingons.

I will lead an away team that will go to the surface, aboard the same shuttlecraft, named in honor of our fallen comrade, Commander Data. Honor: great word, it has been the guiding light of my whole life, and although several years ago, I would have believed beyond the nature of the android that served with distinction at our side, it defined him at the end of his operation, of his "life."

After exchanging signals with Enterprise, we left and we went into the atmosphere, as toxic as Jupiter or Saturn, neighboring planets of the Earth, in the Solar System of the Sector 001 of the quadrant Alpha. Being I extraterrestrial, it sometimes seems arrogant that the Terrans have defined space from their point of view, almost dishonorable.

Upon crossing, the Lieutenant JG Lagonn informs me:

"Commander, there is damage to the pylon on the port side."

"Increasing structural integrity field."

Upon making adjustments, I noticed a lack of power, and I draw upon reserves. This will hinder our eventual take off. Soon we surpassed the dense layer of clouds and I could land at the base camp of the scientist who conducts these studies. I ordered the crew:

"All hands, put on space suits. Full revision in one minute."

The five crewmembers got dressed and we all checked each other, looking for flaws in the closings, rips and porosity. Satisfied with the environmental suits, I order the lieutenant to open the rear hatch, and we stepped onto the surface. Professor Birrell, scientist in charge, greeted me over the comm link.

"Commander Worf."

"Professor."

"There is an ionic storm on us, which interferes with the readings. I didn't expect the conditions to worsen so soon."

That explains the damage to the support of Data's nacelle. I decide to put to my team in action:

"Lieutenant Lagonn, show the professor your readjustments to the sensors. So they will be able to continue taking readings through the atmospheric polarization. Lieutenant JG Cor'Bahm, begin repairs to the port support. Lieutenant JG Zelig, identify a source with which to recharge our energy reserves for take-off. Chief Habashi, stay in charge of the ship."

I accompanied Birrell and Lagonn to the tent, where I helped with the instruments, as Lagonn fed the computers with the compensatory subroutine. When we finished, we could not only continue reading the energy of the various sites, but we would also have a clearer idea of how the atmospheric disturbance would behave. Even so, I didn't count on normal communications with the flotilla, but the base was equipped to launch buoys periodically with reports in data crystals.

After filling the corresponding report, we went out to launch the buoy at the scheduled time and I went to check on the progress of the repairs. The boatswain, a very attractive Japanese for the human, but frail for my taste, came out to meet me, informing:

"Commander, we have been able to weld the strut, but there are not enough spare parts."

Lieutenant Cor'Bahm, a Bolian not as conceited as others of his species, informed:

"Nor is here enough material compatible with the ship's alloy."

"We must rely on the structural forcefield."

Zelig cut in, a human of undetermined nationality. He said:

"Having so much dilithium, at least, we could use a few grams and there would be more than enough power for the take-off."

I responded him:

"Coordinate it with Lieutenant Lagonn so that he identifies a nearby source."

"Aye-aye, Commander. Zelig to Lagonn, please, transmit coordinates of any dilithium ore nearby."

"Acknowledged."

At once, a screen in the control panel lit up, showing the coordinates. It was very close, barely a hundred meters away from the camp. We all went to look for it. Upon seeing that the crystal stood out, one of the crew took out a "phaser" in order to slice the desired portion, but I stopped him:

"Stop! What are you doing? If you fire, we will all explode!"

"But my level is minimum."

Another crewmember explained to us:

"The storm is in full strength. Upon combining with the energy of your weapon, the chain reaction could be dangerous."

The crewman holstered his ray gun. Then, I pulled up a "shard" with my own hands and I gave it to them in order to return to the ship and make the adaptation. We closed the hatch and decontaminated the interior, to be able to whittle the piece of dilithium with an engineering laser, to leave from new and install it in the starboard nacelle. Lagonn, the Andorian, came accompanied by a Vulcan aide, who commented:

"Professor Birrell thanks you for your help and regrets the accident that happened to you, Commander."

"There is no problem, Mr..."

"Me'Stan, Commander."

"It is better that you take cover, Mr. Me'Stan. We launch in a few minutes."

"All right. I will return right now."

And he left to their camp. I informed my crew:

"Take your positions, we leave now."

Habashi took the co-pilot station, and she read the instruments as I activated them:

"Half Power to both nacelles, pylons stable."

Cor'Bahm confirmed and added:

"But that's about as much as we'll get from port, Commander."

"Activating structural integrity field."

The ship left the ground very slowly, and I began a test flight, before developing escape speed. There was a little of tremor. I announced:

"Increase inertial dampers, now."

The ship flew smoother, and I announced:

"Maximum power to starboard."

Habashi hit a control in order to compensate while I accelerated "Data" through the subspace-energy-charged clouds. All of a sudden, the shuttle shook violently from side to side. The crew explained alarmed:

"We were struckt by lightning!"

"The atmosphere generated a spark that reacted with the dilithium of our engines!"

"That damaged the port nacelle, Commander."

But even so, we abandoned the atmosphere on time. By only reducing speed, Data recovered maneuverability, but barely coasted with residual momentum. A Romulan scout ship became aware of our predicament and extended a tractor beam, to propel us toward the Enterprise, who would pull us inside the hangar. The Romulans bade farewell, saying:

"Scout ship Vo'Rath here. We are glad to have been of assistance."

I can get used to having Romulans rescuing me.

Already on board, we met with the captain and with Commander Geordi LaForge, chief engineer, who speculated that the ionic storm, hardly perceptible, has a very marked influence in subspace systems. In fact, the details would be too much for the scope of this log. The android B-4 was present as an observer, and although he had the enough theoretical knowledge to analyze the situation, he didn't understand some things. No matter how upgraded, using the diagrams of the original Data, this prototype would never be quite like his "brother." We all became frustrated with his questions, at times, impertinent, but the captain took it philosophically:

"Remember that, at first, Data himself drove us crazy."

LaForge puffed in a peculiar manner, because he was the android's best friend. He complained about a problem with his optic implants and retired.

StarDate 57473.4

On a routine mission toward Epsilon Eridani, Commander LaForge, now second officer, gives me the control of the Enterprise-E, because Captain Picard will be delayed due to a very delicate medical treatment. Given his advanced age, in spite of the fact that eats right and has the best care at his disposal, human physiology has its limits. This doesn't mean that he should already go into retirement. Suddenly, a Klingon attack ship appeared before us, and the unexpected de-cloaking activated the alarms:

"Red Alert!"

The ship itself activated its defenses automatically, and I thought that it would provoke my people to attack us, but that never happened. On the contrary, they transmitted me a message, using an old code when I was a Federation ambassador on Quo'noS. In the message, they insisted that I beam aboard their ship, because the news that they would tell me was confidential. When the captain arrived to the bridge, still under the effect of anesthesia, I announced him:

"I have just received a priority message from the Klingon vessel Nye-Gass. I request permission to transport there."

"Join me in my Ready Room, Mr. Worf. Mr. LaForge, you have the bridge."

"Aye-aye, Captain."

Upon entering the office, the captain established a secure connection, but one of my passwords was necessary:

"Worf, Glich-cha-Vor 7 Omicron."

The answer was:

"Greetings, Captain and Ambassador. This is Colonel Lr'Kahng. Worf, this involves Emperor Kaeh'Less."

"What happened to him?"

"I should insist on informing you aboard my ship, Your Excellency."

"Mr. Worf, as your Cha'Dich, I should accompany you."

His insistence inconvenienced me a little, but upon invoking a title of honor, I had to consent. Upon beaming aboard Nye-Gass, we were led to the conference room, where their captain, a diplomat and an assistant to the Emperor, whom I remembered vaguely, waited for us impatiently. They protested the presence of my Captain, who invoked his prerogative as my Cha'Dich, and the officials gave in.

"Ambassador Worf."

"I am no longer a diplomat."

"...what we will say is of supreme importance and should remain in strict secrecy. Emperor Kaeh'Less is dying."

They explained us, in general terms, his health condition, avoiding mentioning that, being he a "clone," a genetic copy, taken from a very old sample, his genome would be very unstable.

"It is necessary that you return with us, and that you come alone, by order of the Emperor and the Supreme Council. Captain Picard should return to his own ship and should not comment nor make any annotation in his logs about what has been spoken here."

My captain respected the importance of the matter and beamed back to the Enterprise. I remained aboard Nye-Gass, which proceeded at maximum warp toward the homeworld of the Klingon Empire. The imperial official gave me ceremonial Klingon clothing, before we descend on the planet.

When we arrived at the Imperial Palace, our first stop, it impressed me a little that there were some more officials than at the time in which I served as ambassador. Chancellor Martok is more appreciative for the institution that represents our Glorious Emperor than Gowron used to be, so he had this palace rebuilt and he provided personnel, much of which was volunteers at the service of the noblest Klingon of our history. But the one who summoned me here said:

"Over here, Ambassador. Hurry!"

And he led me to the Throne Room. Finally, before me stood His Majesty, Emperor Kaeh'Less. The aide crossed his arms over his chest and bowed his face, and I did the same without being told to do so. The Emperor was very old and frail, and at first, he spoke with a cracked voice:

"Is that you, my loyal B'lyung?"

"Yes, your Imperial Majesty."

"Who does come with you? Is it perhaps Chancellor Martok?"

"No, Milord, it is Ambassador Worf."

"Worf, from the house Martok, precisely."

"That is true."

B'lyung and I affirmed in unison.

"Come forward, Ambassador. B'lyung, leave us."

The official repeated the reverence before turning around to leave reluctantly, curious for knowing why he had to bring a man that, although having all the characteristics of a Klingon, no longer was part of their society.

When we were finally alone, Kaeh'Less began to speak.

"Worf, son of Mogh, thou must wonder why I have made thee come."

"Here I am, Sir, at your service."

"I will give thee a little background of my history. Hast thou studied the history of thy people?"

"The glorious history of the Empire."

"No, my friend, the monarchies of thy adoptive planet, the Earth. I have also researched them. Thou wilt see, The Supreme Council has tolerated my presence in the government, but although they hate a person or institution challenging their control over the affairs of the Empire, even if it is the institution from which their power emanates, for that reason, it has always been cause for concern that I am only a symbolic figure, not having true political power. The very people clamors for a more active role in their lives, being Emperor Kaeh'Less the living flagbearer of their noblest ideals: Honor, Decency, Justice, Courage, Loyalty. So they have named me Supreme Judge and Preceptor of the Klingon Ethics. As in human republics, The Chancellor holds the executive power, the Council has the legislative and I get to have the judiciary. Now I approve or deny discommendations. I have had to deal with quite a few P'Takh, although I have also seen meritorious cases, and I have known how to impart justice. But we both know that I won't last much longer, not only by already being very old, but because I am what the scientists, such as you, denominate a clone,' and that my genome deteriorates by leaps and bounds. My assistants will provide thee my complete record, and thou wilt have to familiarize with all my cases and appearances before the Supreme Council in less than a week."

"Begging pardon, what will happen then?"

"I will make a formal announcement about my successor. Thou hast thy errand. Leave now and send my assistant to me, so that they compile the material that thou wilt study."

I felt a strong emotion, as preparing for a battle against a formidable enemy, difficult to conquer. It is never fear, but a rising of the blood that allows us to confront the danger without hesitation, even with joy. But what worried me was being appointed a judge in the Courts of the Empire, being I a citizen of the Federation, under the Prime Directive of not interfering in matters of aliens. But I am Klingon, I feel Klingon. Even once, I resigned from StarFleet to support Gowron against his enemies, of the Duras clan, because these dishonored the Empire in a treacherous alliance with the Romulans, and in another occasion, I looked for the legendary Batt'leh of my Emperor, with the hope that my people would be more united in purpose of honor and peace. I even judged Duras and Gowron with my own sword, upon finding that they no longer upheld the ideals of Quo'noS.

The officials of the Emperor lodged me in a room of the same palace, after providing me with the material that I had to read during my stay in my ancestral planet. I reevaluated many cases in which the Emperor unmasked corrupt citizens, either declaring them guilty of dishonor, or restoring others falsely accused. My pride and admiration grew more every day. One day, Chancellor Martok received me in the Council Hall and greeted me:

"Worf, my esteemed friend! Do you fathom the destiny that the Glorious Emperor has shown you?"

"I am honored that His Glory at least directs his view toward me, a poor outcast, but I don't have an idea."

"Noble member of my House, the reason for which the Emperor brought you is the same for which I requested you as Ambassador: to give stability to this society. Clearly, then we had just won the war against the Dominion, and there was the question of the diplomatic relationships between our respective governments."

"But my mission was already completed..."

"And in an admirable manner! Never there was more security between the Klingon and the Federation, and even our relationships with the other galactic powers is now better than ever. Precisely. This people has their Emperor and also their Supreme Council, collaborating toward a common goal, and that, the people cherishes. We have to keep it that way!"

"I still don't understand how all this affects me."

"You will soon understand. Continue with your study."

I returned to my quarters, where another aide awaited me with more documents for me to review.

"Ambassador, here I bring you the most recent decisions of our Unforgettable..."

"Thank you, Clerk Yir'Ga."

"I there anything else I can be of help, Milord..."

"That will be all. Good afternoon."

But she tried to step inside with me, volunteering:

"I could give you a very interesting summary of the cases, so that your Lordship won't get so tired."

"Thank you, but no. Good-bye."

And I closed the door. Truly, I guessed that she wanted intimacy with me. But it would cause me heartache, upon comparing her with Keh'Leyr or with Jadzia Dax, my late companions. Also, I want to accomplish this for the Emperor, on my own, and get acquainted with my own eyes of his deep wisdom and sense of honor. More and more, it became clear that he is not merely a clone, and much less, a failed experiment, but an authentic leader for a proud race.

The last that I received were medical reports that indicated the serious deterioration of his physiology: he was anemic, lost too much weight, his lung, heart and renal functions were very insufficient, and he even has brain damage. Even so, his conversations with me always demonstrated mental clarity.

On star date 57479.7, I was summoned to the Council Hall for a joint session of the Supreme Council, presided by the Emperor himself. Among those present, was Alexander Rozhenko, the son that I had with the Ambassador Keh'Leyr. When Kaeh'Less took the word, he proclaimed:

"Today is one glorious day for the Empire, because I have made a decision that will assure our future for millennia. Today, a favorite son returns, the most honorable Klingon that has ever set foot on Quo'noS. Even outside of the confines of the empire, his name inspires panic among our enemies and pride in those who count on his support. Therefore, I proclaim my successor to be the patriarch of the house of Worf!"

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