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The offices of the Klingon attache' to Starfleet were Spartan, at best. The walls were devoid of any decoration, save the Empire's banner, which dominated the largest wall within the outer lobby. Directly under the banner was a heavy gray, metallic desk. Seated behind it was the same young lieutenant who had arranged this meeting the previous day.
Kensington sat patiently in his chair, also very spartan, and wondered about the Klingon admiral he would soon meet. Shortly, the scheme he was hatching in his head would either be dismissed as foolishness or be given a good chance for succeeding. Only the Klingons had what he really needed and it was critical. Without it, there was no chance for approval, far less success.
The Chief of Special Operations tried shifting his position again. The metal chair must have been designed to be uncomfortable or else specific to Klingon anatomy. At least now he understood why Klingons stood most of the time. He'd also learned another lesson, never be early for an appointment with a Klingon.
Just about the time Kensington did find a comfortable position, a chime sounded on the lieutenant's comm panel.
The young officer stiffened a bit and adjusted his earpiece. He spoke a few short syllables in his native tongue then turned his attention to the Federation admiral. "Admiral Karn will see you in five minutes, sir."
Kensington nodded to acknowledge and tried to smile, but remained seated. He was deep in thought. During the time between his visit with Walking Bear and now, he had done a lot of planning. If all did go well with the Klingons, then Special Operations would be responsible for one of the most incredible missions ever undertaken by Starfleet.
When the Klingon admiral's door finally opened, Kensington was startled as his thoughts were interrupted. The heavy wooden panel slammed hard against the adjacent wall and nearly left its hinges completely. This wasn't the standard pocket door but one of the old fashioned kind, inlaid hardwood on solid brass hinges and weighing over two hundred pounds.
Even the young lieutenant jumped at the sound, although it was a sure bet that the scene was common in this office. Standing in the doorway was Admiral Karn himself. He ignored Kensington completely and glared at the younger Klingon officer.
Roaring at the top of his lungs, Karn lit into the lieutenant with a verbal assault, unmatched in any service or by any officer. Just what it was all about was anyone's guess, but after two full minutes' worth, the Klingon turned his attention the seated visitor. Out of courtesy, Kensington had not worn his universal translator and, although he did not need to understand what the admiral had been discussing with his aide, he would definitely need to understand him to discuss his plan.
Keeping his gruff manner intact, the Klingon admiral studied the Terran for the first time. For a moment, he said nothing. Then suddenly, the old Klingon broke out in a contagious belly laugh. When he finally did speak, it was in Federation Standard and devoid of any accent. "Sorry for the outbreak, but if I don't lose my temper now and then, the junior officers become lazy. I have to blame the situation on Starfleet. My people have seen how easy your junior officers have it. Unfortunately, it spoils them. Come into my office. I have looked forward to this meeting."
The Starfleet admiral smiled weakly at the compliment and followed the Klingon into the office.
Taking a large, formal chair behind his duty desk, Karn indicated the seat opposite him for his guest. As Kensington sat, the two senior officers tried not to notice the young lieutenant closing the oversized wood office door.
Leaning back in the oversized chair, Karn spoke in a friendly manner. "Now, what can the Klingon Empire do for the Chief of Special Operations today?"
Putting on his best poker face, the human looked the old Klingon square in the eye. "How much would you--" he corrected himself "--would the Empire like to get back at the Romulans?"
Karn leaned forward and rested his elbows on the large expanse of marble which made up his duty desk. He eyed the man seated opposite him, suspiciously. "How would Starfleet like to have the entire Klingon fleet at its disposal?"
Smiling, Kensington waved off the offer with his hand. "No, nothing like that." He paused, then, "May I call you Karn? Otherwise our ranks and titles may get in the way of a productive conversation."
"Agreed. Already I liked you, Kensington. Proceed, please."
"The operation I have in mind will require only one member of the illustrious Klingon Empire, plus a small favor."
"You intrigue me, just who and what do you want from me?"
"I have heard that General Koord has recently been promoted and is currently stationed near the old Federation/Klingon neutral zone, correct?"
Karn smiled thinly, "You are particularly well informed. Go ahead."
"During the 'unfortunate' alliance between Klingon and Romulan Empires, Koord served in a capacity similar to your own, correct?"
"Do you think Koord would be interested in taking a trip to rescue an old friend?"
The Klingon looked confused and studied the human carefully. "This is the favor you spoke about?"
"No, not exactly, let me explain."
"Please do." The Klingon was beginning to sound as if he was losing his patience.
"I, or rather, we, have made an amazing discovery that should interest both Koord and yourself."
"I'm still listening, but you're still not saying much."
The Starfleet admiral was about to tread on very sensitive ground now. "Is anyone else listening?"
The question was based on genuine concern, but the Klingon must have been taken as an insult. "Is that supposed to be a joke? This space is provided by your government for my use. I must assume you take responsibility for its security!"
Kensington thought the Klingon was going to leap out of his chair and pull a disrupter. "It is merely a precaution. I was told by an old friend that it was a standard practice to always have the important leaders monitored, to ensure their safety, true?"
Karn relaxed considerably. "Again, you are well informed."
"So I repeat, do you want something that may knock the Romulan Empire on their collective pointed ears to be known by just anyone?"
Nodding slowly in agreement, the Klingon rose quietly and moved towards the massive door. Opening it just a crack, he looked out at the lieutenant. The junior officer seemed preoccupied by other matters, but just to make sure, "Mantak!"
Jumping at the sound of his name being yelled, he stood at attention.
Karn continued, "The Federation Officer and I will require refreshments. Make the necessary preparations!"
The younger officer seemed confused by the request. "Will my Lord wish traditional Klingon or Terran refreshments?"
"Romulan ale, Mantak, go now!"
Kensington heard the outer office door open and close as he left the office.
Karn turned back to face the Terran. "It's in my quarters, should take him about a half hour to complete the task."
Before Kensington could speak, Karn raised his index finger to his lips in a 'remain quiet' gesture. Returning to his desk, he entered an elaborate coded sequence into his comm station. Suddenly the wall directly behind the Klingon slid noiselessly to one side and revealed a small chamber. Within the room was a small metal table with four chairs and not much else. Second Admiral of the Fleet Karn turned to face his guest. "Care to join me?"
Kensington could hardly refuse, especially since he had initiated the idea. He nodded his acceptance and followed Karn into the cramped chamber. Once inside, the door slipped back and locked with a solid sound.
"We are quite secure, I can assure you." Karn looked smug and confident.
The Chief of Sec Ops was suitably impressed. He was sure this room was not part of the original office. How the Klingons managed to get the work done to build this room inside Starfleet Headquarters was indeed remarkable. "I've often heard the Klingons make the most of what they have."
Grinning broadly, Karn responded, "Indeed we do, sir. Now what was it you wished to share with me?
"Yesterday, I began planning an unusual operation, based on an important discovery. I would need the services of General Koord and some of your technology to help me. If I'm -- excuse me -- we, are successful, my proposed operation will have the Klingon Empire honoring our names for centuries. But first I must ask you an honest and important question. How does the Empire feel about Captain James T. Kirk?"
Karn sighed loudly, "You answer a question with a question. Still, you interest me." He paused a moment, then spoke in a reverent tone. "Very well, Kirk was once a great adversary. Then he became instrumental in bringing our two great governments together. His name is spoken with great honor throughout the Empire as a warrior and a leader. No human is honored more. We all shared Starfleet's loss at his death."
Smiling at the statement, Kensington thought, 'perfect.' "I hoped you felt that way. It is why I came to see you. What if I told you Kirk may not be dead?"
The old Klingon nearly fell out of his chair. "You must be joking!"
Fortunately, the nearby table was equipped with a Federation standard terminal as well as a Klingon one. Pointing to the terminals, he turned to the Klingon, "May I?"
Opening his tunic slowly, as a means of self-preservation more than anything else, Kensington carefully withdrew the data tape with Mudd's conversation. The exacting ritual was a sign of good sense and a common practice between Klingons. Removing hidden objects from within one's clothing incorrectly, more often than not, resulted in death. The Klingons had an elaborate saying which boiled down to 'better safe than sorry.' After activating the recording, Kensington sat back and studied the old warrior's reaction.
When the program concluded, Karn sat back in his chair, stunned. His eyes were fixed on the screen which was filled with the frozen image of Mudd on his deathbed. Suddenly his mood changed and he became angered. Kensington thought the anger was directed at him personally.
However, when Karn spoke, he left no doubt where the anger was directed. The voice was harsh and there was great emotion behind each word, as if he were a seething volcano venting excess energy. "I will tell you this, Kensington, by the word of honor which every Klingon holds above all. We of the Klingon Empire will do all that is within our power to help you in your quest." Then Karn spat out the next words as if they were a curse. "The Roms are without honor. To take a great warrior such as Kirk and to hold him captive, in such a state, it is intolerable!"
That said, he softened his tone, "I place myself in your service." Again, in the Klingon tradition, he moved slowly, pulling his ceremonial knife and laying it on the center of the table with the handle towards Kensington. It was a time honored gesture for a willingness to share weapons and, if necessary, blood.
The Federation officer was moved by the unexpected gesture. "You honor both of us and our governments. I will then ask the remaining favor, beyond the assistance of Koord. I hope it will not be asking too much."
"Let me be the judge of that."
The two then talked until Mantak returned with the Romulan ale. By that time though, neither could find a desire for the drink, undoubtedly due to their disgust with the Romulans in general.
The meeting, though, was the beginning of a long-lasting friendship.