Disclaimer: Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Star Trek: The Next Generation belong to their respective creators, Joss Whedon and Gene Roddenberry.
“That cannot be her,” said Magh. “She is too small.”
Haragga lowered his hand. Disappointment left a sour taste in his mouth. A human child!
“Was it a mistake?” Kahmar was saying, tone filled with disbelief. “Did they inter the wrong body?”
“I do not see how that could be,” said D'romok, distracted by his scans. “Even pre-Contact humans could not have been so careless.”
“You are saying it was intentional,” said Haragga, gripping his Daqtagh
with a hand that he would rather have had around the neck of whichever human had perpetrated this...thing. “That they meant
to put this...child
For a long moment, no one could speak. Haragga stood still, attempting to get his urge to stab someone under control, looking at the cylinder and the body it contained.
She was...extremely small. Upright on the floor before them, she would not have come to even D'romok's shoulder—and he was the shortest of the four of them. But then, humans were nearly always smaller than one expected them to be, and it was only sense that human children would look even punier.
“Perhaps she comes of a line of warriors,” suggested Kahmar, somewhat grudgingly, “and this tomb does honor to her heritage rather than to her.”
The thought was abhorrent to Haragga. A noble ancestry was one thing, but to use it as an excuse to honor someone without their having done anything to earn it, and that an untried child! Could even humans commit such distasteful offenses?
He shook his head, thrusting that sort of thinking away. “D'romok. Finish your scans and check again to make sure there is nothing else on this ship. Then we will go back to the H'grot
and submit our reports. The Federation can deal with this.”
D'romok did not answer. Irritated, Haragga turned to glare at the chief engineer, only to find the lieutenant staring at the steel encasement of the cylinder.
“Chief engineer!” Kahmar struck D'romok's shoulder.
D'romok hardly seemed to notice. He only looked at them, mouth slightly open, and a peculiar expression on his face.
“Captain,” said D'romok, and his voice was gruff. “Captain, I do not think this is a tomb.”
Haragga frowned. “What?”
“I think,” said D'romok, and his eyes turned again to the cylinder, “that this is a cryonic preservation unit, and the girl is in cryosleep.”
Magh's mouth opened. Kahmar stared at the cylinder.
Haragga looked at D'romok, and then at the girl. “That does not look like cryosleep.”
Cryonics had not been utilized in the Empire for over a hundred years. Haragga had never seen cryosleep before, but he did not think it involved an actual block of ice.
“No,” said D'romok, “this would be—is—only a very primitive form of cryonics. I can hardly believe that it has remained functional for three hundred years. And there is no guarantee that the subject has survived such a rough method—or, if she has, that she has not suffered irreversible physical damage.”
“Hold,” said Kahmar. “You're saying that the—child—could still be alive.”
Haragga had already thought through to the inevitable conclusion, was considering the probabilities. The Federation would have to get involved. This was a human artifact, with possibly a human still in it. How long would it take a Federation ship to arrive? Could this ancient vessel wait that long? And, too, it had been found in Klingon space. Should he alert his superiors in the Defense Force, or simply give his report and let someone else make the decision?
What a headache. He almost would rather have never found the thing at all.
“Possibly,” D'romok was saying, working now on his tricorder. “I will know nothing for certain unless we attempt to revive her. But, Captain, even if we are successful, there is every chance that her brain has deteriorated too—” “
HoD Haragga. Captain!”
It was the communicator. The voice was that of Sogh
Krang, who had been left in command of H'grot
Haragga snarled into his com, “What?” “Romulan Warbird decloaking to port. Captain, they are transporting!”
Magh cried out in shock and rage. “A Warbird? Here? In Klingon space?”
Haragga charged for the door, trying to open his ears to the noise of footsteps. “H'grot
, four to transport! Now!” “Captain, we cannot get a lock!”
Krang was snarling, and an explosion transmitted over the com. “We—engaging shields—attack maneuvers—”
The other three had followed him, disruptors out and taking positions against the wall and on the other side of the door. Haragga could have gnashed his teeth with anger. This was the Mempa sector, light years away from the Romulan Neutral Zone. To come so far into the Empire, not twenty years after the war—
Haragga did not know the perverted language of Romulan scum and probably never would. There was, however, one phrase he had come to recognize over the years through sheer repetition. “Hyaa-aifv-hnah!”
Disruptor fire filled the corridor and flashed through the doorway. Haragga howled his contempt and fired back, supported from the other side by Kahmar. He could hear the Romulan officer talking on his own com in the first room, and tried to judge by voice and Romulan disruptor discharge how many of the Ha'DIbaH
“Captain,” shouted D'romok, “the ship! It cannot withstand the stress of—”
Abruptly, from everywhere and all around, there came to their ears a low, head-splitting thrum. The floor shuddered beneath their boots.
Haragga glanced back, and grinned to see the chief engineer tearing at his hair. “Dor'sho'gha!”
roared D'romok, infuriated. “The qoH
He stopped. Stilled.
Haragga's eyes widened. Beside him, Magh lowered his disruptor. The Romulans had ceased firing, and an uncanny silence fell over both sides. Kahmar took two more shots before he, too, turned.
The cylinder was a glare of light. The thrum had grown into a discordant drone, and the cold had seeped from the floor.
The ice was gone. There was now only a dense, gray liquid, drifting sluggishly against the fortified steel.
And a hand, small and human, pressed tentatively against the glass.GlossaryDaqtagh
| warrior's knifehyaa-aifv-hnah
| [Romulan] fire disruptorHa'DIbaH
| animal, slang for inferior persondor'sho'gha