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*WINNER* The Tempest


Alleran Tan
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“The Tempest”

"Some people are so afraid to die that they never begin to live."

- Henry Van [...]

She woke to the crying of Klingon seabirds.

Ensign Vaala, a counsellor in Starfleet and an entirely un-Klingonish Klingon, didn't remember how she got here. She sat bolt upright with an entirely unbecoming shriek... only to discover she had been laying on the wooden deck of a ship, which continued to rock back and forth as it traversed the dark red ocean. She clumsily stood, slowly and dizzily climbing up to her feet. Holding onto the railing to keep her balance, she shook her head to clear out the stars.

The boat rocked and heaved, and it was with a chilling, dark realization that she knew where this boat was taking her.

It was the Barge of the Dead, taking her to Grethor... the afterlife for dishonoured Klingons. The worst of punishments... for cowards, for traitors, for warriors without honour... where the poor victims would relieve their most cowardly moments, their terrible defeats, their failures and their misfortunes. Where they would suffer eternally... where they would reap what they had sown forevermore, [...]ed to the Klingon Hell.

She knew this, and watched as the great isle of despair loomed up before her, as though slowly rising from the very depths of the foul, evil sea.

"Ooooh... fiddlesticks."

Vaala was, in all likelihood, the universe's worst Klingon. She couldn’t fight worth a [...], cried easily, barely even knew any curse words let alone use them... she was allergic to a list of substances as long as her arm, she had joined Starfleet instead of the Imperial Navy, and she had been once defeated in honourable combat by a tribble.

She was allergic to them, so even contact with a place they had been was enough to close her throat and send her into a wheezing, gasping fit.

Beaten by a tribble that wasn’t present at the battle. She wasn’t sure a greater dishonour even existed.

Somehow, she'd always known that she'd end up here, but she had hoped -- perhaps naively -- that she might be able to avoid this fate by joining Starfleet. By proving that she could be... not necessarily a warrior, but part of a team of warriors. She was obviously so inept at fighting that, perhaps, she could leech some of the glory by osmosis. She could help keep her crew mentally fit and healthy, and in exchange this service would allow her to avoid Grethor.

Well... so much for that theory.

Casting her eyes to the sky, she saw the dark, bruised flesh of thunderclouds rolling in from the horizon, illuminated by the occasional flash of lightning.

Vaala hated storms.

Her gaze fell upon the great Captain of the barge, an impossibly tall Klingon who had a full inch on her long and lanky frame. Unlike her, however, this man was pure muscle; he looked like a competitor in the Federation weightlifting championship... no, scratch that, he looked like the winner. Or that he’d killed and eaten the winner.

In one bite.

The wind picked up, the barge’s sails billowing as the storm fed the ship, rocketing her and the other dishonoured dead towards their horrid fate. Stumbling, Vaala made her way over to the Captain, raising her voice slightly so she could be heard over the growing whine of the wind.

“H-Hey! Mister Captain...!”

The colossal man turned his gaze to her, regarding the Klingon woman with a withering stare that could strip the paint from the hull of a Prometheus class cruiser. Vaala instinctively felt herself shrink back in the face of his intense, searing gaze.

“You are Vaala, are you not?” he intoned, his voice booming at an unnatural volume as the Captain regarded her, the sound seeming to echo despite the vast open sea the ship was a tiny speck upon.

“Y-Yes... that’s me. Vaala of Khitomer, uhh... yes.”

The sails above her groaned as the storm intensified, a thin fork of lightning briefly bathing the scene in pure white light as it leaped into the ocean, the roiling clouds bearing down on the ship like a great beast. Vaala could see the great sheet of rain as they moved towards the ship like a stone wall, growing in height as they began to loom over the ship.

The Captain’s unyielding stare remained fixed on her, unnerving her greatly. His eyes were unblinking, unmoving, and Vaala found she could not match their intensity. She looked away, to the seas which were dark red and churning.

“Tell me then, Vaala of Khitomer... are you here to bargain with me, or threaten me... or do you believe begging like a filthy targ to be your best chance of escaping your fate?”

Vaala felt a shudder dance up and down both her spine. The Captain’s voice was as deep as the thunder that followed the flashes of lightning that cracked and boomed all around them.

“I... I don’t know...! All I know is that I don’t deserve to be here -- this isn’t... this isn’t my time! I’m not supposed to be d-dead!” She whined, her voice becoming pleading. “S-so... bargaining, begging or threats... which one works best...?” A hopeful edge forming in her tone. “... bribery, maybe?”

The Captain gave a low, hollow laugh that forced Vaala to immediately recognise the folly of what she had said. “None of those things have ever worked,” the gargantuan Captain boomed, the last of his grim mirth fading as lightning flashed all around. “... I’ve heard but I do so much love when they beg...”

A faint noise, coming with the thunder in the distance, carried a single questioning word to her. “Vaala...?”

She twisted her head, trying to hear the strange voice. The storm loomed over the ship now, the wind blowing against the sails so hard she thought they might break.

Vaala whirled back to the Captain, despair painted on her face. “Look, I don’t know, okay?! All I know is... all I know is that I’m not meant to be here! This is a mistake!”

“They all say that,” the Captain retorted in his mighty voice, “or words to that effect... but that’s all they are. Words... as full of passion and thunder as the storm, but with as much meaning.”

But there was a meaning in the thunder. Vaala could hear it more clearly, now -- a voice calling through the crack-rumble of lightning strikes.

“Vaala...? Vaala, can you hear me?”

Waves crashed against the sides of the barge. Vaala had to grasp hold of the railing near the wheel with both hands to avoid being tossed off her feet.

“Look, Mister Captain, I don’t know what to say to you -- but I’m not like the others! I’m not! I’m different!”

The Captain ignored her now, casting his eyes around the roaring seas, seeming nonchalant in the face of the boat rocking itself near to capsizing.

“The winds roar this day,” he commented, flashing Vaala a smile full of teeth, “perhaps you’re right.”

Vaala opened her mouth to answer, but instead it was filled with the dark red seawater. Spluttering and coughing the clumsy Klingon lost her grip on the railing and with a shriek she was swept off her feet, tumbling head over heels as she was dragged inexorably towards the side of the ship.

“Ensign, we’re not on Eden anymore... we’re back on the ship!”

With a crash she hit the side, her hands scrabbling wildly as she tried to grab hold of the railing. Her fingers on one hand found it, holding onto the wood with all her strength, her legs dangling overboard.

“I don’t know what you mean!” she cried to the wind, salt water spraying into her face, blinding her. “I don’t know who you are!

“Ensign, it was a temporal disturbance! We’re safe now!”

She did not feel safe at all, her tenuous grip on the ship’s railing the only thing keeping her from being swept overboard.

“I’m not safe! I’m not safe at all! Help me! Help! Help...!

Her fingers weakened and, with a shriek she lost her grip and was carried into the churning red sea.

*****

She woke to the shaking of her shoulders.

“Ensign? Ensign Vaala...? Wake up...!”

Her eyes flew open and, once again, she sat bolt upright -- but this time her ridged forehead smacked into the face of the fresh-face cadet who was shaking her. James Huntington, a blonde security cadet whom she had been intending on introducing herself to before the ship went through the wormhole.

Went through the wormhole... then crashed on the planet they had called Eden. Years had passed... then she had been stabbed to death during a crew mutiny.

Or not, as the case was apparently.

Huntington extended his hand, helping the large Klingon woman to her feet. “Sorry for shaking you so hard, I didn’t know how to wake you up...”

Vaala, her nerves shot, just gave a nervous smile. “Uhh- no problem, thank you... Cadet.”

James nodded again, then departed, leaving Vaala alone in her office.

Sitting on her chair, Vaala drew her knees close to her chest, mulling over what she had experienced. Death, in all its horrid and exquisite pain, followed by a near visit to Grethor... it seemed no matter what she did, she would die a coward and Sto-Vor-Kor would be denied to her.

As she sobbed quietly in her office, pondering this and all its various implications, Vaala swore she could hear the faint howl of the wind and a distant rumble of faraway thunder.

Edited by Alleran Tan
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