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April Runner-Up: Among Warriors

Rinev Shryn

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Mid-morning in the Klingon prison camp was recreation time, the prisoners were allowed to go outside, although there was nothing to look at, or they could stay inside the prison complex, which was equally unpleasant, either way you were not going to have fun in the dust-ridden, dirt-covered hell that was the Mempa System prison camp. The prisoners kept here were considered the most dangerous and dishonourable men and women in the entire Klingon Empire; in it you could find any manner of people from Ferengi smugglers to the most dangerous Klingon murderers. It was also the current location of a Trill smuggler.

Darzen Cogud sat on the hard and sandy floor of the camp, in his hand was a scrap of stale bread that he had stolen from one of the weaker prisoners, in Mempa prison you did what you could to survive. Darzen was merely imitating what stronger prisoners did to him, so what was the harm? He bit down into the bread, it was a bit crunchy and very hard to swallow, but apart from that it was bread. He finished it quickly careful not to save any for later because one of the stronger, Klingon or Gorn prisoners would take it. The mid-morning sun shone between the cracks in the roof of Mempa, it shone into Darzen’s eyes like a lost sheep, wanting to be found. The last time light had shone into his eyes like that was when he was caught.

Darzen had been running his usual business, he had a shipment of maraji crystals, he wanted to avoid passing through Federation space, as his usual shipping routes had been increasingly difficult to smuggle in, it seemed the Federation had upped security in recent years, and Darzen wanted to avoid being caught. He was originally going to take a longer route that would bypass the areas of increased security but his client was adamant he get his drugs, and offered a higher price the quicker they arrived. And so that led Darzen to Klingon space, normally the Klingons were much less scrupulous when it came to searching vessels that passed through their space, but the consequences of being caught were much higher and that’s why you don’t go through Klingon space. But Darzen was certain he could do it, everything seemed bright, at the end he would be paid a substantial sum of latinum, which he could then use to gain access to pleasures beyond his wildest dreams. If he got past the border without detection.

Recreation time in Mempa prison was over; it was now time to work. The current project for the prisoners in the camp was to manufacture some small but necessary components in the construction of Birds-of-prey. The construction, however, was hard work, made harder by the camps cruel overseer, K’rtok, son of Maglus. He was a pitiful excuse for a Klingon in truth: small,

obese, cowardly and cruel. He was dishonourable, many of the Klingon prisoners argued that he should be working in the camp, rather than overseeing it, he seemed to take pleasure in beating prisoners. Most thought it was because it made him feel powerful, others believed it was because he was ordered to, Darzen thought it was because he enjoyed inflicting pain on the weak. He only gained his position as overseer because his brother was an honourable man; his brother
was also a man Darzen new well.

Darzen was about thirty minutes into his trip through Klingon space, his small but robust ship was working better than it had for ten years. Darzen figured it was because his ship was as eager to leave Klingon space as he was. The trip was going exactly as planned, the Trill smuggler had estimated he would be out of Klingon space within a day and so he had begun to plan what he wanted to spend his money on. Just as he was debating whether or not to buy an Orion Slave Girl for an evening a small beeping noise accompanied by a red flash appeared on his control panel, it was signalling that a ship was close by Darzen looked around to see above him was a Klingon Bird-of-prey, its green hull was not a pleasant sight for any man with illegal substances in his cargo hold. Another light began to flash, this time accompanied by a high pitched hum, indicating the ship wanted to talk. Darzen, reluctantly accepted the hail, he was greeted by a smug, fat face of a Klingon captain on his small screen he used for communicating.

“May I help you gentleman?” Darzen asked daringly, flashing a smile.

“I am Captain Kroth, son of Maglus. My crew and I are ordered to search all vessels passing this area of space.”

“Well, I would be happy to have you aboard to look around but I am transporting a shipment of Andorian peaches, if I have any delays they will ripen to early and they will not get to their destination in perfect condition.”

“A shame for you Trill, come to a full stop. My search team will be over shortly.”

“I will prepare a drink…”

Darzen slumped in his chair as Captain Kroth ended the transmission, he really did have Andorian peaches with him, but the Klingon search party would have dealt with smugglers before, and would probably tear his ship apart before allowing him to continue on his way. Soon enough a brood of angry Klingons beamed aboard his ship in a dazzling, blood red shimmer. They immediately reached for their disrupters to contain Darzen, even though they hadn’t done their search. Darzen escorted them to his cargo bay. He led them to the peaches and exposed them but the Klingons had to look in every box and so they did. Each crate they opened contained more peaches, until they hit the jackpot, sitting in one crate was eight, shining crystals. Word soon got back to Captain Kroth, and Darzen returned with the Klingons back to their ship, his craft was seized, his assets stolen and his credibility as a smuggler ruined – if he gave away names.

The afternoon was fast ending in Mempa prison camp, and that meant one thing. Inspection. The prisoners were marched outside in the burning sun (they were lucky it was not midday as the heat would kill them) so that “K’rtok, son of Malgus” could take pleasure in seeing those that had to obey him suffer. Obviously that was not the official reason given; apparently it was an effective way to count the prisoners. Darzen could see that even the guards hated it; the dishonour of parading all-ready vulnerable people in a dangerous environment would have been hard to bear for the traditionally raised Klingon warriors. The prisoners lined up, not to the military precision the overseer would have liked because they were just prisoners but they were in some kind of line. Darzen stood among the rabble of Klingon, Gorn, Ferengi, Nausicaans and others, trying to avoid the overseer spotting him. The overseer had taken a ‘liking’ to Darzen Cogud and unfortunately

K’rtok did spot him. The Klingon approached him and glared into the eyes of the smuggler.

“Mr Cogud” He growled. “Twenty laps of the facility.”

Darzen looked at him in horror; if he was to do twenty laps in this heat he would surly die. In addition there was no reason for Cogud to run twenty laps. The guards obviously thought this to as they exchanged worried looks behind the overseer’s back, but they were too scared to intervene. Darzen

would have to fight his own battles.

“No.” He barley mumbled the last word the son of Malgus wanted to hear. His eyes lit up like fireworks.

“What did you say?”

“No.” Again he mumbled.

“You will do fifty laps of this facility Trill, even if it means my guards drag you around it.”

“You said twenty.” His voice was now raised, as he knew K’rtok would follow through with his threats.

“I lied… Prisoners dismissed.” K’rtok smiled at Darzen, although the Klingon had to look up at the Trill, it felt like he was looking down. His cruel eyes locked onto Darzen. The Trill shivered, remembering the first time it happened.

After his capture, Darzen was taken to the Mempa system to be interrogated by the brother of Captain Kroth and the overseer of Mempa Prison Camp. Darzen was bought into a small room, on the wall was a picture of Kahless, above two crossed Bat’leths. The accused-of-smuggling Trill was sat on a cold metal chair and left alone for two hours, the Klingons wanted to see how he reacted, Darzen sat still. After two hours, K’rtok, son of Malgus entered, he was an unimpressive Klingon, and he was about 5ft 8, with a small beard and small hair. The only large thing about him was his weight. He was armed with a disruptor but Darzen could see no knife, this Klingon was without honour. He began to demand the names of the smuggler associates. Darzen remained quiet. He tried to find out the purpose of the crime. Darzen remained quiet. After repeated attempts, K’rtok, son of Malgus was getting impatient. And demanded Darzen speak, Darzen who was now battered and bruised from the repeated blows to his person looked up.

“Did someone steal your knife?”

K’rtok glared down at Darzen, locking his eyes onto the Trill. He hit him again, blackening an already black eye. He then stormed out of the room leaving Darzen alone with his bruises and his thoughts. He was eventually charged with smuggling, and sentenced to a life sentence in Mempa prison camp. Obviously the life sentence would have been frowned upon in the Federation but

he was in the Klingon Empire and so a life sentence for smuggling was common place. Darzen was escorted by two guards to the main section of Mempa Prison Camp, like most Klingon Prisons the sleeping quarters was simply a large cave in which the prisoners had fashioned their own accommodation. This was where Darzen would spend his first night in Mempa Prison, as darkness fell over the planet Darzen found a small spot in the corner of the cave. His thoughts were
still locked on his interrogation he had undergone just a few hours ago. He curled up in a ball and closed his eyes and then slowly fell asleep, waiting for the first day of eternity.

Darzen woke. He was still battered and bruised from his run/drag the night before. A guard had dragged the Trill the full fifty laps. His clothes were torn, his side was red and his head was still feeling light. He looked around his now almost-cosy accommodation, completely different from

the gap in the corner he had found two months ago. He stood up slowly, his side still aching, as he prepared for another day in Mempa Prison.

Lt Jorus Cogud

Chief Tactical Officer

USS Discovery-C

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