Chancellor J’mpok watched as the last Klingon shuffled out of the High Council Chamber. He waited three heart beats before moving to the throne and slumping heavily unto it, his fingers curled and he wrapped a knuckle against his furrowed brow.
Lies. The council chamber still echoed with them. He could almost smell the betrayal hanging in the air like the stink of a wet targ. Betrayal that the phantom, J’Ula, had roused from the hearts of cowards that hid among the council. Cowards that could very well splinter the empire, or split it in half.
The chamber guards shifted minutely, but audibly, alerting J’mpok to the arrival of someone in the council chambers. He stood, eyes peering into the darkness to make out the face of an old friend.
“Chancellor. J’mpok. My old friend. I bring news and glory.”
Friends, what did that word even mean these days? Could anyone be trusted in these trying times?
“Not here” J’mpok’s eyes danced to the chamber guard briefly. Kortaj squinted and then nodded in understanding. “To my private chambers. Such news should be shared with a full cup, swiftly emptied.”
Kortaj laughed. J’mpok joined him. It was hollow to any who truly knew the two Klingons, for they had shared the laughter of warriors victorious against all odds on many occasions. This was not one of them.
They retired to J’mpok’s private chambers where a bottle of blood wine was swiftly produced by J’mpok and cups filled. Kortaj watched J’mpok silently. J’mpok inquired, “You think I’d poison you?”
Kortaj tilted his head down slightly, eyes closing briefly, “I would not be alive today if the thought were not beating constantly like a drum in my mind.”
J’mpok’s chuckle filled the room. Kortaj joined him. The chuckles turned to laughter. True laughter. The roar of warriors who had seen and risked all that life could give them together. It ended only after J’mpok had pressed the cup into Kortaj’s hand and the two warriors drank.
“News and glory.” J’mpok studied Kortaj’s face for a hint of what he meant. It was written plainly there.
“J’Ula…” he hissed before Kortaj could speak. “You’ve found her!”
Kortaj nodded with a smile. “Her and the traitors giving her safe harbor.”
J’mpok crashed a fist into the table and raised it to his chest. He looked skyward, whispering a prayer to Kahless. “Then the glory is yours if you want it.” He took another drink, swirling the last bits in his cup as he motioned to Kortaj to elaborate. Swallowing hard he asked, “Where is she?” before draining the last of his cup and beginning to pour another.
Kortaj joined him in the imbibing of his refreshment and slammed his cup on the table next to J’mpok’s, placing both hands on the table he lowered himself, like a predator considering how best to take down its prey. He smiled as his cup was filled and took it like it was payment for the information. Raising the drink to his lips he paused, looking over the rim at J’mpok, and said, “Beta Lankal.”
J’mpok let the words sink in as Kortaj tipped back the cup and drained it swiftly, victoriously. He considered every implication of its meaning, his brow furrowing, then relaxing. He took a drink and set his cup on the table, pacing around it. Having completed his swift, political analysis, J’mpok stopped beside Kortaj and asked, “Tell me, old friend. How do you feel about sharing the glory of the kill?”
Kortaj lowered the empty cup, the question somehow draining all triumph from the moment. “I would fight and die with honor beside any who you command into battle, Chancellor.”
J’mpok smirked, “Of course you would, as would any true warrior of the Empire.” He narrowed his eyes, “But I am not testing your loyalties. I am considering what is best for the Empire.”
“J’Ula must be stopped” Kortaj began, “That is what is best for the Empire. She and those who follow her will tear down all that we have built. Her ways are not our ways. Not now. Not ever again.”
“Careful, Kortaj. Keep speaking like that and I’ll start thinking you have your eye on the chancellor’s chair.” J’mpok laughed. It was hollow. Kortaj noticed.
J’mpok cut his hollow laugh short, “If you have an eye for politics, then let this be a lesson.” Kortaj raised a brow, knowing that J’mpok was many steps ahead of him in this conversation, and now feared he had stumbled blindly into a situation he did not understand in the slightest.
J’mpok continued, “Consider the problem of J’Ula. She is the past that should have died. Now she is in our present. Her ways are not our ways.”
Kortaj followed along and asked the question J’mpok was driving toward, “And what are our ways?”
J’mpok clapped him on the shoulder, “Our ways now are the ways that lead to allies. The ways of diplomacy, and strategy. The ways of keeping the Empire strong, without wetting our blades in our own bellies.”
Kortaj nodded, “Fighting J’Ula ourselves would weaken the Empire. But she must be stopped.”
“And she will. We’re just going to let others die doing it for us.” J’mpok paced around the table and retrieved his cup. “If they succeed, then J’Ula was an unworthy opponent. If they fail, then we lose nothing and gain greater glory when we ultimately succeed.”
J’mpok raised his cup, “No matter which way the winds blow the Empire will stand stronger.”
Kortaj nodded, “Not all will see the honor in this.”
“To Gre'thor with honor” spit J’mpok, “and J’Ula with it.” He took a self-congratulatory drink from his raised cup and swiftly added, “Draft up an attack plan. Share it with our allies. I’ll handle the diplomatic channels.”
Kortaj smiled, looked to his empty cup, and turned to leave. He paused at the door and said, “You offered me glory if I wanted it. I do. I’ll be leading the attack myself.”
“Fight well, old friend” J’mpok watched over the rim of cup as his old friend marched off to battle. He muttered, “Die with honor.”
As J’Ula’s onslaught continues, a Klingon organized Task Force calls upon its allies to counter-attack J’Ula’s fleet hiding on a barren moon in the Beta Lankal System. With the launch of our Anniversary Update, join the Task Force Operation organized to bring swift justice to J’Ula and her supporters. Lead your federation allies in an all out assault on a moon, in the first ever Task Force Operation of space forces battling ground forces. Experience “To Hell With Honor” and stop J’Ula before she becomes an unstoppable threat to the galaxy.
This brand new TFO was revealed on Ten Forward Weekly this week, and you can watch the entire playthrough right here!