Title: Azetbur
Author: kelthammer
Series: MU TOS
Pairing: Aztebur/m
Rating: G
Feeback: kelthammer@hotmail.com

= = = = =

by Marcy

A Klingon prayed for a worthy enemy.  That was what the men
said.  The women often added their sarcasm to it, pointing out
that once a worthy enemy did come along, all they did was

And what did Azetbur complain or pray about?  She didn't even
know which her father did.  Peace had been his desire, peace
with a rival Empire even though the endless warring had cost him
half the clan, his wife, and very nearly his eyesight.

They buried him with full honors, inside a photon torpedo
decorated with the sigils of the Black Fleet.  The scar across
his face everyone thought a combat badge; only Azetbur knew he
had earned the wound clamboring through the wreckage of a
ruptured warship, pulling out the survivors before the
nitroxygen escaped into vacuum.

Kang took her aside after the honors.  His race carried the
ridges latently; the change between him a hundred years ago was
astonishing to her eyes, accustomed as they had become to
viewing bald-fore'd humans in the knotted vinework of diplomacy.
White haired with a full beard, he was a fierce frost-godling,
with a voice that rumbled like the Earthshaker himself.

"What next, Azetbur?"  He growled, deep in his throat; she felt
the vibrations against her sternum plate.  "Will it be your
father's desire?  Or are you free to choose?"

And she lifted her chin up, because it was a challenge, even a
subtle one from an old family friend, and best a friend dare her
than an enemy.  While the witnesses watched and listened, she
smiled sideways, showing her teeth.

"I choose to follow my father."  She shot back.

And Kang laughed, throwing his head back as his throat swelled
against his high collar.  "Kai, Azetbur!"  His teeth gleamed
snow-white and sharp. "Gorkon had no daughters, only sons!"

"Warrior" was Kang's native dialect for "son", as "daughter"
was the word for "protector of livestock."*  The pun was double-
edged and full of meaning.  Spoken in public, he had just
acknowledged Azetbur as a fully accorded fighter.  Now if anyone
had any problems with her, they would have to face her directly,
instead of a closekin warrior.

That night she went to the battleground of her own choosing, in
the privacy of a soldier's quarters.  He was the elder by some
years, misty-sentimental over the loss of her father, and she
had no faults with his performance. But afterwards, she left the
way she usually did with these meetings, silently, without
announcement or farewells.


"The problem is not with the humans themselves, but the way
they labor in their Empire."

Koloth spoke wryly.  His sense of humor was often unfathomable
to his own people--but the humans responded well to it, and he
of them all had the most experience with them personally (just
fighting them didn't quite count, although that was very

As Azetbur watched, the warrior got to his feet, pressing his
knuckles down on the surface of the polished stone table and
leaned forward.  This was his particular mannerism when he had
something important to say, and everyone present was keen enough
to listen intently.

"Some would say we are about to commit a form of treason,
deciding what we are.  I say it is no treason to choose our own
paths in life.  Nor do I say it is treason to refuse to blindly
follow an Emperor who has made no significant kills...save that
of his own kin when rising to the throne.  If I may, I quote an
ancient Terran proverb:  "I have no qualms with taking bread
from the mouths of decadence."

That opening went well, Azetbur marveled at the ripple of
amused admiration through the room.  Koloth had always been a
smooth talker--and smooth even in his silences, managing to
convey much with his body language without being brusque.  Even
the aged and jaded could feel a response to his words.

Sitting with his arms folded, Kor was chuckling, a baritone
grinding of sandstone boulders deep in the bones of his breast.

"How long have we fought the Terrans?"  Koloth asked the air.

"Three hundred years."  Someone replied--Azetbur glanced to the
side, saw Kor's youngest son, Kirg.  He was handsome, still
smooth-browed, but his ridges were beginning to shadow his skull-
bones.  A tattoo of a black monster rested on his left cheek; an
impressive mark.  Just as impressive was the large adamantine
plate around his neck; the Collegium's highest awards in
science.  Azetbur had an ear for gossip like anyone else, and
wondered what had dragged the man away from his environmental
laboratories long enough to accompany his father here.

"Three hundred years."  Koloth agreed.  "How long did we fight
the Bajoran and Cardassian?"

"Fifty."  Grumbled Kreb.

"We know the humans, do we not?"  Koloth's voice lifted at the
end of the sentence, making it a challenge.

There was a brief pause, while this was analyzed, and Kang

"Of course we know them.  We know them better than the Scaled
ones, or the ones who wear their ridges on their noses."

Koloth let the amusement carry itself just a bit, and nodded,
sastisfied that the point had been made.  "Exactly.  "We KNOW
the humans.  We know where their honor cannot be compromised. 
We know where they can be.  We know their strengths and
weaknesses, AS THEY KNOW OURS!  Why then did the Emperor choose
to ally with those WE DID NOT KNOW when our home was destroyed?"

Soft, whispering breaths were drawn in through bared teeth; it
was a sore point, and one that could NOT be argued against.

"I would not have joined any people responsible for the Battle
of Klarr." One man muttered under his breath.  "No matter what."

"Most of us feel that way."  Kirg reminded the man.

Azetbur thought that was a kind, gentle way of putting it. 
Most of the old warriors could not mention Klarr without making
the sign for vomitous nausea.  The Klingon race had been
psychologically vulnerable after the destruction of their
homeworld, and when the Cardassians had promptly bombed one of
their most suitable, long-colonized planets off the starmaps, it
had increased the sickening horror.  And not one month after
Klarr joined the Homeworld in the Afterworld, did the Emperor
sign a treaty swearing friendship with the scaled folk who had
cowardly murdered twenty-five billion of their people.

"Spock of Vulcan was open to our friendship."  Koloth
continued.  "Most of us here KNOW that Terran-Vulcan.  In battle
and in treaty.  He learned well from Kirk, that's plain.  And
what Spock does, all of Vulcan follows in.  I fear that when the
Bajorans and Cardassians became our allies, we sealed the fate
of the Terran Empire."

Koloth shot his black eyes to Azetbur.  She had expected this
cue, but still felt skewered.  "Azetbur?"

She stood, and bowed with her head in respect to her elder
before looking around the room.  Any show of nerves would insult
her father's memory.

"Most of the Terrans would have been against an alliance with
us."  She began.  "But that is the surface level of their
political schism.  As we know, they have very brief lifespans. 
Their children replace them quickly. It is not a matter of the
Sum-Terran being against us, but the fact that very few of these
Terrans are in power.  The sheer design of their goverment
closely resembles that of our own people, before Kahless took
control and established the Council Norms that we follow today."

There was a stir of interest at this; Kor, who was an
inveterate lover of tactics, began stroking his long moustaches
in thought.

"So one rises to power through family connections."  Kirg
commented softly. "Instead of proving in battle?"

"Exactly."  Azetbur nodded.  "This is a common complaint even
among the Terrans; their philosophy is dependant on war, yet
their very structure prevents the most useful and skilled from
rising in ability, and encourages the weakness of lies and
deceit.  When Spock of Vulcan banned rank-assassination, he was
actually making it illegal for a man to arrange for the death of
another through indirect means.  Now if one wants to kill, they
must, in his own words, "get their hands dirty."

"Haaahhhh."  Kor began laughing again.  "Now I see.  That
explains why some humans act above killing.  They've never done
it before...just had other people do it for them.  No wonder
they irritate me the way some of our nobles do!"

"Spock of Vulcan is no longer in power."  Kang pointed out. 
"The Caesar has re-seized control, and the once-Commander-in-
Chief is in hiding."

"Hiding in a way."  Koloth admitted.  "More like to say, in an
unapproachable position.  When the Alliance encroached upon Old
Empire Space, he dispersed the best of his people across the
Galaxy to Kahless Knows Where."

"Some fled behind the Asteroid Belt inside the Fabrini
worldship."  Kor was back to stroking his moustaches.  "And I've
heard that Spock of Vulcan spends his time in various places in
the Empire...and in the Romulan Empire."

"If I had pointed ears, I would too."  Koloth joked.

"Do you see the point?"  Azetbur asked.  "My father did find
proof that Spock of Vulcan does spend time in sanctuary with the
Romulans. That is a strong and powerful Empire.  This is an
opportunity we should consider."  As a junior warrior, she would
not say that her elders should or should not go to war.

"What do you say, Azetbur?"  Kang asked.

Azetbur did not take an obvious deep breath.  "My father and I
learned much of humans in our work.  Spock of Vulcan was
battling against a corrupt regime that ill-treated its people. 
Now that our people have joined an Alliance with Bajor and
Cardassia, they feel things have only gotten nominally worse for
them."  She paused, letting them think about that.  Bad indeed
must it be among the Terran Empire to think the Cardassian thumb
was not much lighter than the Caesar's.

"That'll give you nightmares."  Kleg muttered.

"We have been instrumental in enslaving people we knew and
understood far better than the races we have allied with. 
Kahless did say, 'An enemy who fights is more worthy than a
pacifist friend, for which will respect you more?'  And now look
upon us.  Corruption is seeping into the schism of our own
government.  Trial by combat has become few and far between. 
How many of our young people can test ourselves?  The best we
can do is paltry border skirmishes with the Romulans!  What
testing did we ever get out of Cardassia?  Cloaked raids and
death from a distance; Bajor--biochemical weapons that made our
own bodies betray us!"

Azetbur knew she had to halt before a frenzy of patriotism
overtook the table.  Flushed, she swallowed hard, forcing her
adrenaline down.  Knives were being cleaned everywhere she
looked; teeth gleamed in sharp points and eyes burned white-hot.

"The True Klingons will remain true.  I believe this.  Let the
weak be swayed by bribes and tributes and hollow awards.  We
shall carve our own way, as we always have, even if we have to
eat dirt for a hundred years!  It will be OUR dirt, and no one

"Hah!"  Kor bellowed.  He was the smallest of the Klingon
present, but the best fighter.  "Gorkon never died!"

Mailed fists slammed into the stonetop table, Kor's striking
white powder as the mineral caved under his blow.  The room
resounded with a heavy gong of full-throated, defiant Klingon

It was the highest honor Azetbur had ever been given; always
before, it had been Gorkon who had recieved the lauds.


"The Fabrini are a staunchly neutral people."  Koloth
commented.  "They were forced to join the Terran Empire.  After
Spock of Vulcan came to power, he supported their autonomy. 
Anyone can visit their worldship, and their New World if they
choose, but they must leave politics out of it."

"Probably a wise attitude, considering how small their world
is."  Kor shrugged.  "So the Fabrini are the first place to go."

Kirg was silent, content to study the 3-D starmap that hovered
above the table.  Everyone could see empty space where two
Klingon planets had been...and before long, the gravitational
differential would damage the ones closest by their drifting
planetestimals.  And, depressingly close by, rested the planets
the Emperor had "given" the other two races of the Alliance.

"Good fighters."  Kang grunted.  "They can take a Vulcan down
without drawing a breath.  Always liked watching them in the

"They would follow Spock of Vulcan, I think."  Koloth's eyes
missed nothing. "Their heirophant owes him many favors.  And she
consorts with his personal healer."

"The Capellans would follow as well."  Kor leaned back in his
chair, polishing his hooked knife.  "Now THOSE folk, that's what
I call entertainment in the ring!  Not much sense of humor, but
can't have everything.  Very amusing, the way they deadpan their
way through the opposition."

Azetbur let the chatter flow around her.  It sounded like the
council was being sidetracked, but she knew better.  This was
how the older men debated; forgetting no small points, returning
to them in intrticate loops and knots of conversation.  This was
how Gorkon taught her strategy, and how to listen.

Kirg glanced up once, as a small yellow sun-image circled
around a chain of mining colonies claimed by Bajor.  Azetbur was
almost certain of the interest she saw in his eyes.


Later, they broke for the evening.  Kor gave her a stiffly
proper nod and told her his son was feeling feisty; he would
welcome the chance to accompany her to her ship in case some
riffraff felt overly eager to cause rudeness (in other words,
try to kill her).

Azetbur thanked him, knowing it wasn't condescension to her sex
but an invitation to exchange information.


"Do you have enough escorts for your trip?"  Kirg asked with
charming candor.

"Possibly."  Azetbur answered back.  Their boots rang against
the metal of the floors and walls.

"Hmn."  He grunted.  He was dying to ask for a berth on her
ship, but was still searching for the right way to ask.  Azetbur
was quite humored by the man's sudden and uncharacteristic
indecision, and chose to let him sweat it out.

If he would only come out and ask outright...

"May I ask what your plans are for this evening?"  He wondered.

Hmnn....close to the mark...but hardly a kill-strike.  Azetbur
stopped in front of her doorway as mailed warriors tromped past
on their specific duties.

"Actually, I had made no plans."  She confessed.  "I wasn't
thinking of this evening."

"You weren't?"  He was surprised.  "What were you thinking of?"

"Your face-mark."

Kirg blinked, then grinned, no longer a pretty boy, but a man
who had used his youth as an advantage, and taken his kills with
all strengths.  The tattooed monster moved with his cheek

"I like that."  Azetbur nodded to it.  "Is it a sigil?"

Kirg touched the black-pigmented skin with a fingertip, clearly
quite proud of himself.  "It is from the world of my birth."  He
explained.  "A spider that lives in the deepest depths of the

"Venomous?"  She wondered.

"No need."  His grin grew.  "It can get over four porr in
length, enough to swallow a man whole in his armor...if the jaws
don't shred him into convenient little pieces first."  He added
conversationally: "Sometimes they like to bury a snack under the
corals for later."

Azetbur was fascinated.  "I like the story as much as I like
the mark."  Her own hand reached up and touched the skin, her
eyes gleaming with the Klingon invitation: partial dare, partial

"I was tired of looking milk-faced."  He confessed.  "I hold no
fault for my sire's genes, but I often stood by the mirror and
willed for my ridges to come out."

Azetbur laughed.  "I did the same with my breasts."

He blinked, thrown off balance at her coup.  "No."  Unable to
resist, he glanced downward.  "You?"

"Truly."  Azetbur grinned.


He turned out to be the lover she expected: enthusiastic,
gymnastic. Azetbur was of course accustomed to trading favors
with proven warriors, and that nearly always meant someone twice
her age.  To be with someone more her years was a new change,
more of a challenge to her stamina.  She enjoyed it immensely,
and found she had reason to stay afterwards.

"Do you want to be a part of the delegation?"  She asked.

Krig grinned.  "Not much chance for fighting where I am."  He
shrugged young, strong shoulders, muscles and plate rippling.

"This is true."  She smiled back.  "And fighting there will be.
Many of the Klingon will remain loyal to the Emperor no matter

"In peacetime, allies battle."  Krig quoted philosophically. 
"What will be your plan?"

"Simple enough.  The Daran System has a planet the Fabrini and
native Darans cannot live in.  We could, however.  And

"A Land treaty?"  Krig's eyes lit up.  "That would be
interesting.  Why can't they live on it?"

"Too much cyanocides in the atmosphere for their species. 
Hardly an inconvenience for us.  If we could get their agreement
on a colony-contract, it would give us ample chance to begin the
forging of deeper bridges."

"We haven't had a new colony formed in years."  Kirg murmured. 
His eyes had a faraway gleam.  "Not since I was about to test at
third-level weapons."

"They can't use the world.  We can.  Our population grows under
pressure. There is enough room for millions."  Azetbur let him
think about that, knowing she had judged him correctly; war
wasn't the only thing he thrived upon.  Kirg enjoyed a testing.

"You could use a skilled enviro-technician."  Kirg said

"I could."  Azetbur grinned back.  Her tonguetip ran along the
very points of her canines, almost thoughtfully.  "For many