_The Klingon Family Reunion_by the ladies of the House of Topian, Roberta Dashman, Kadir, son of Kreth; and Lady Gressa
***follows "SoS 'ej puq" & before "Dinner Fit For a Warrior"The invitations had been sent, the catering had been taken care of and now Empet stood in her full military regalia in the middle of Vic's Place on DS9. It was not quite the venue she would have preferred but then shipping everyone back to Qo'noS was far too inconvenient for this auspicious occasion.
"Mother!" came a sharp shout from outside the holodeck. "She's started again!"
Sighing to herself, Empet rubbed a hand over her ridges. "Kids," Vic snorted genially. "Gotta love 'em, right?""Hmph." She strode outside and glared at her middle daughter who stood two inches shorter than her. "Who has started what, Selneth?"
"Make Kala stop, she keeps growling at the Ferengi," the girl huffed.Throwing up her hands, Empet shook her head and muttered about grown children acting like babies as she marched away and down to start to greet the arriving guests.
Gressa did not like being shooed away from her responsibilities. She had her doubts that Kaartaren and his wife could do without her yet Kaartaren had done just that: he'd shooed her away. Told her to go to this function and enjoy herself. Ridiculous! She snorted, even on her way over. The man obviously was not incompetent but he was much too easy going. Children needed supervision and correction. She was still grumbling when she stomped into the holodeck.
Empet laid eyes on the Klingon who had entered and she flowed forward. "Lady Gressa," she said in simple respect. "I am Empet of the House of Topian."
"Ambassador," Gressa hmmphed. She knew who the woman was. What she didn't know was why she'd been asked here. While she was happy with what she did, she very much doubted any other Klingon found her work worthy, especially if the children she was caring for weren't even Klingon.
Selneth huffed again at her older sister, who seemed to be having far too much fun annoying the Ferengi. Deciding to join her mother, she didn't even notice the painfully thin Klingon hybrid march in with a human.
Kala snorted as she growled at Quark. "Grilka sends her regards, little man," she teased.. Blue eyes raised to the new comers only to freeze on a face that was too thin. In one movement, she pushed past the Ferengi and grabbed her long lost brother in an embrace that squeezed the air out of him. "Brother," she said roughly.
He had to wheeze because he couldn't quite breathe any more. "Kala?" he asked softly. "That you?"
There was a wide grin on her face even if she felt her eyes burn with tears she would never cry. "Yes, Kaine, it's me." Her hands were on his face as she searched those lost, pain filled eyes for her little brother. "Stovokor is missing a good soul but I'm glad of it. Welcome home, little brother."
Roberta bit back tears but not a smile. Kaine's sisters! This was too perfect.
Gressa settled dark eyes on Empet, warily watching for hidden tricks. "Why was I asked here?" she demanded. "I was called from work, important work."
"Looking after little children?" Empet asked, though she did manage to keep the snort she felt from her voice. "And what of your own children, Lady Gressa? What of your son?" Dark eyes danced as she saw her own son lead in by Kala, even if he looked far too thin for her.
"My sons are all dead, many years ago," Gressa growled. "Hopefully gone to Sto'Vo'Kor as warriors ought to."
"Are they?" Empet asked as innocently as she ever could. She swept past the woman to embrace her son gently then welcome Roberta. "Kaine, Roberta, this is Lady Gressa, SoS of HoD Kadir. Lady Gressa, meet the man that is proof of miracles, my only son, a man I believed long dead."
Gressa nodded at the Human, one of their Fleet's NCO's by the rank pips on her uniform. Sturdy looking for one of them but still no Klingon. She looked up at the tree of a man next to her. He was obviously a fusion but, yes, definitely Klingon. Carefully, so as not to harm him, yet with enough strength to respect his status as a warrior, she clapped a hand on his arm. "Welcome back from battle," she declared.
Kaine grasped the hand in his firm one and nodded, his dark eyes serious. "Long fought, you must be proud. Your son is a strong warrior and a good friend. I have a great respect for him."
It wasn't quite how she'd imagined Gressa finding out but Empet couldn't fault her son's words and she would never have him act as anything but the man he was: honourable, strong and wise. She was about to continue on when she heard the raucus of a company of Klingon warriors, newly home from battle.
"HoD Kadir," she said smugly as she swept out to greet them.Gressa whipped around. He was dead! Taken in battle long ago before the start of the Dominion War. Yet there was his ghost, a trick of the light, striding into the room as confidently as if he were truly alive. Her eyes narrowed as she strode forward.
"Where have you been?" she demanded.Kadir almost smiled. SoS looked different but she certainly sounded the same. He clapped a hand down on her shoulder which, he noted, was still a bit more substantial than his, and said, "Away but now I'm back."
"Fighting the good fight," Kaine said with a bark of laughter. "Cracking skulls."
Empet gave her son a fond smile. "You have yet to tell me the story of your last fight for freedom, Kaine. That would be a song worth singing."
Kadir grinned a grin without teeth. Yes, he was quite satisfied that he still had all his teeth. A de-fanged Klingon could not fight and no warrior could be respected if he couldn't respect himself. "Did you not miss me, SoS?" he asked.
Gressa clapped her own hand as heartily on her son's, her fangs showing just slightly. "Disrespectful pup," she grumbled good naturedly. "Your Uncle Parth will be glad to know a son of the family returns." She was not like Kaartaren, to simply embrace a child because she could but this was her boy, her last one. Her arm tightened around him.
Kala tried not to grin from her place at Kaine's side. It was good to see warriors return home and that one of them was her brother was truly a wonder and a blessing. She knew it was her mother's place to but seeing Kaine and all these brave men she knew what must be said. With a last hug of her brother, she stood away and took her place at Empet's side.
"Great warriors," she announced as she raised a goblet of bloodwine, vintage from her mother's collection, "The House of Topian salutes you! Savan!"
Kadir downed the goblet in one gulp, the station doctor be damned. The man meant well but enough was enough. He had no intention of drinking to the point of drunkeness but one could still be Klingon. "Qapla!" he shouted. "The battle was hard fought and we were victorious."
"Qapla!" Empet roared as she too downed her drink. She noted with satisfaction that her only two children present did the same. She also noted that her eldest's eyes were now fully on this Kadir. "HoD," she said, when the noise had died down a little, "what for you now? Back into our military?"
Kala's pale eyes fixed on Kadir. His words, though few, were exactly right and perfect for this occasion. She was impressed, more than impressed.
Kadir had been pondering just that ever since the liberation. That insane Xenexian had found a niche, one that he'd had beforehand it seemed. Yes, Kadir had been considering just that question himself. "I was thinking of just that," he admitted. "I wish to teach."
Gressa looked up at her son curiously. He'd always been a good fighter and excellent tactician but teaching? "Children?"
"Only in as much as all untrained warriors are children," he smirked. Empet nodded in approval but again it was her eldest daughter who spoke up."A worthy choice for such a seasoned warrior," Kala said with clear approval in her voice and eyes. "Those who live through hardship find themselves best suited for the teaching of those who have not."
"If only I could convince that Xenexian to join me," Kadir pondered, his eyes taking in all the others. "That one is worthy of being Klingon."
"And his little woman," Kaine agreed. "For such a diminutive doll, she is fierce, very fierce."
Kala smirked at her brother as she folded her arms under her breasts. "It's good that you are finally learning not to judge a woman by what she appears to be on the outside. A lesson many men could do well to take on board."
Kadir nodded, offering the ambassador's daughter a smirk. "A warrior is a warrior no matter the size or sex," he agreed. Nodding at Kaine, he added, "Nor do they have to be unsubtle. Subtlety is a trait that is often under appreciated."
Kala's eyes widened slightly in appreciation. His smile, all be it a smirk, was quite attractive. "Wise man who knows that a warrior does not have to be a loud mouthed, self-absorbed boar."
With a snort, Kaine shook his head. "Some of us enjoy being quieter and surprising people."
Gressa looked up at her son, pride obvious in her eyes. Ah no doubt he would take issue at how she'd spent her last few years but that would be for a later discussion. "You will do us all proud, Kadir. Imagine the songs they will be singing on Qo'Nos."
"They're already singing songs for us," Kaine said with a bark of laughter."Of course they are, brother," Kala grinned, carefully keeping her teeth hidden. "You wait until SoS has spoken to an epic writer, then there will be songs!"
Kadir nodded at Kaine then at the rest of the Klingons who'd been with them in the camp. "And we will make our own songs. Too bad the Humans have soft heads," he declared. "Only one of them dares butt heads with me."
"Only because that Marine has a thick head," Kaine snorted. "Another good man, should have been a Klingon."
"Major Swiftwind?" Roberta asked. "Oh yes, he certainly does. He managed to tick off the former CMO and was happy about it." She carefully left out that she knew why Kadir had come to meet the man.
"At least he can sing," Kadir hmmphed. "Claimed his people were warriors, too."
At his mother's raised eyebrows, Kaine said, "He's Human, Native American, a tribe called the Cheyenne."
"Aha! I've heard of them. A very honourable people," Empet agreed. "I once met one of their elders. He was old but a fierce man if he chose, I would imagine."
"Was he named Nightwalker? There was one very old man who came to visit one of our freed guests," Roberta began. "He was very charming but he had the look in his eye that said he was no weakling."
Empet snorted in amusement and nodded. "That was the one. Tall, well-built and with bright white hair. He spoke with the authority of one who has seen much of life and death, who has intimate experience of both and is happy walking the line that cross the realms."
Kala peered at her mother. It was fairly rare for the General to speak with any fondness for non-Klingon men, especially since their father died.
"Kaartaren would like someone like that," Gressa told her son. "He is most unusual for a Betazoid."
"That's Georgetown's senior counselor," Roberta mused. "My boss is fast friends with him going on over twenty years."
"You are on a Federation starship, SoS?" Kadir asked curiously. He had no idea how she even got here or where she'd been in the time that he'd been gone.
This was certainly for Gressa to speak of, Empet decided so she turned from them and addressed her daughter. "Where are you sisters? They should be here."
Kala snorted. "Tia visits with her pet Romulan and Selneth sulks somewhere." Her eyes drifted back to the HoD. He truly was a handsome warrior.
From the door, Selneth watched her sister stare in appreciation at the Klingon captain and snorted. Another prize for the perfection that was Kala to claim. Ha, she'd see about that.
Gressa looked her son in the eye. "I care for his children," she told him. "At first, it was just the eldest but now he has two newborns as well. I was on Betazed during the Dominion War and fought with them to beat those things off the planet. He trusted me to care for his little girl while he joined the others."
"And there were others of his kind there but he chose you?" Kadir asked, his eyes narrowing in speculation.
"He did," Gressa said carefully.Kadir laughed out loud, pulling his mother into what would have usually been a bear of a hug. "Smart man to choose a warrior female. Those Betazoids might be strong but we are more so!"
Kala couldn't hold back her grin as she observed. A wise man, not worried about appearances. She found that she liked that.
"Wise of you, HoD," Selneth said softly, voicing her sister's thoughts."You must show him to me, SoS," Kadir decided. "As for wisdom, I thank those who taught me and who survived with me. One cannot lead without having good people to lead."
"And we would have followed you to the ends of the universe," Kaine said with a bark of laughter. "With your tag-along Hybrid, of course."
"Fusion," Kala huffed, her eyes dancing as she watched her brother so happy.Kadir offered the woman an amused shake of his head. "Understand this. In that place, no one had a name. We were all either a race or a characteristic. My brother here got that name and it stuck. The Xenexian was just that because he was the only one of his sort. We did this so that we would remain ourselves if only to ourselves, where it matters most: in the heart of a man."
Her smile broadened even further as she met his eyes. "I can understand that," she said softly. "Much better to keep oneself safe inside than to lose it to evil."
Kadir grinned a grin full of teeth. "It died the sort of death it deserved and with no one to sing it to Sto'Vo'Kor. Bah! They wouldn't have that thing even in Gre'Thor. Kai that cat woman! I hear she fought well."
She returned the grin in the manner it was given. "May it rot in dishonour!"
"Have you met Sergeant FRix, sir?" Roberta asked."If that is the cat one's name: no. The Marine told me about her. He said she was one of his people. If there is one thing I admire it is a woman who can stand up for herself."
Kaine snorted as he eyed the man. "Then meet my SoS and sisters. They'll beat you down with their wills of iron.."
"No one beats us down, brother," Kadir stated, his eyes one Kaine's. "We are too strong after that ordeal. If we kneel, it is by choice alone."
"I kneel for no one," Kaine agreed. "My Cliodnha would never ask for something that I cannot give. I stand tall. We all stand."
Granted Kaine was a good foot taller than him but Kadir put an arm around him any way. "Ambassador, thank you for such a fine warrior son. His praises will be sung in my songs."
Empet beamed with pride. "He is his father's son," she said firmly. "Good and honourable. I thank you for keeping him safe for me."
"Does our home still stand, SoS?" Kadir asked his mother. "Do I have a place to invite my brothers in battle to?"
"Your uncle has had it maintained. It is still yours," Gressa said, her face flushed with pride. "Parth still resides on Betazed but, between him and Kaartaren, they've gotten things done."
Selneth moved so that she was in front of her sister and she gave the man a broad smile. "Come to our house on Qo'NoS when we return there, HoD. That is a fine place to bring your warriors and we would be honoured to have them."
Kala raised her eyebrows at her sister's sudden interest but she shrugged. If Selneth wanted him then she could have him. He was definitely a fine looking man and wise and strong but Selneth was her sister.
"After too many years in a place that no one in their right mind would call their own, a man wants his own walls. The place I speak of is the home where I grew up," Kadir began.
"Where his father and grandfather grew up, too," Gressa added proudly. "Fit to bring guests to still."
Before Selneth could speak further and cause their mother more embarrassment, Kala spoke up. "A man's House is where he is strongest. The members of the House of Topian would be honoured to visit a warrior within those walls."
Kaine grunted in agreement. "Though I'm staying in space, there will be a time when I intend returning to my House. Then I will invite you, Kadir, to visit with me."
Kadir's fangless smile was warm. "And I see you've found yourself a woman to make home a home. Good man, my friend. I'd be glad to visit."
Kissing Roberta's cheek firmly, Kaine grinned, keeping his teeth hidden. "My Clionha. She was sent to keep me rooted in the real world. You know the trouble I have with that."
Real world? Kala tried not to frown but she cast a glance at her mother. What was wrong with her brother that he feared losing reality?
Empet shook her head just slightly when she caught her daughter's eyes. "Come, friends, let us celebrate more fully your victory. Can you consume real food yet? I have had my chef prepare us a banquette but if you must abstain then we all will and the retched Ferengi Quark can have it."
"That damned Xenexian finally said something about regular food in moderation, Ambassador, so let no one hold back on my account," Kadir stated. Then he put an arm back around Gressa. "And that includes you, SoS."
"Good. Kaartaren's a decent man but he looks sick every time I eat gagh." "We have twenty varieties," Empet said with pride.. "Enjoy. Eat.""If you want more, you'll have to visit us either on Earth or Qo'NoS," Kala snorted. "Then you can savour all varieties known."
Kadir gave her an appraising look. Kahless but it was good to see women again. He could see why the Marine would find his wife attractive or why the Xenexian felt that way for his little warrior woman but nothing beat a Klingon woman.. This daughter of the ambassador was quite obviously a fusion like her brother but she was beautiful in his opinion and appeared strong. "And tell me, can you cook, my lady? There's something to be said for restraint but one should enjoy when one indulges in the good things."
"I am a very profficient cook, HoD," Kala said warmly. She met his eyes and knew her cheeks had to be flushed slightly. The way he looked at her... almost as if he could read how she saw him. "SoS is often off-world and I dislike being served so I serve myself. Tell me, HoD Kadir, do you appreciate a woman who can cook?"
Kadir nodded slowly. "A time was when I would return home on leave simply so that SoS would feed me her recipes," he said with a toothless smile. "Any one who can be both a fearless woman and a good cook is to be respected."
Her own smile showed a flash of fangs but tempered slightly. "Come, visit with me when we return home. I will feed you and more."
Kadir said nothing but a light danced in his eyes. I am going, he told himself, have to brush up on my poetry. Then he wondered if, being but half Klingon, if the woman cared for that sort of traditional courting. Kahless but it's been a long time. "Going so soon?" he asked casually. He nodded at Kaine. "This one stays on the ship we came here on but that is because he has himself an appointed position I hear."
"Yes, my brother has become the Klingon Ambassador to the Gamma Quadrant," Kala nodded as she moved a little closer to him. "We are staying as long as his ship is in port. Perhaps... later... you could come to visit with us in our quarters here."
Gressa was no fool. The girl would be a fine match for her son in so many ways. Not only was her House a strong one, its women were equally so and Kahless knew that, as strong as the warriors had to be, the women had to be even more so. She hmmphed to herself, watching them and the other sister. It helped, too, that the girl was quite fetching, even if she was only part Klingon. "That," she declared, "sounds like a fine idea. I doubt you will want to spend all your time with your SoS and her charges."
Kala grinned, keeping her teeth hidden, at his mother. "Thank you, Lady Gressa."
Selneth pursed her lips and narrowed her eyes. "You will have to cook for him, sister," she mused almost waspishly.
"Well, if you can cook that well," Roberta chimed in, "then I'll ask you to teach me. Studying the language and culture is all well and good but food helps tremendously."
Ignoring her sister, Kala turned to Kaine's woman and nodded with a smile. "If you are to join our House, there are many things that you will have to learn, not least of which is the Form of cha'par."
"I'm not quite sure I've ever heard of that," Roberta said carefully.Gressa smiled with a bit of fang showing. Smart girl that Kala, she told herself.
"It is a martial art that every woman who would joins a noble House must know," Kala explained. "No man may know its true form and any woman known to teach it to any would be thrown out. Its ways are secret."
Robrta forced herself to not stare wide eyed. "I've never heard of..." Glancing up at Kaine, she patted his arm and said, "We'll talk later, Kala. It seems that history written by men tends to discount women."
Letting out a deep laugh, Kala grinned, her fangs displayed. "Men are to be petted and kept but we women are who run the Empire. I am an Imperial Historian, I research the role of women in our heritage because my colleagues will not touch it. They believe women had no role, but I know they are wrong. After all, I am Kala, daughter of Empet, daughter of Azetbur, the last female Chancellor."
"Kai the Chancellor!" Kadir declared, downing a gulp of bloodwine. "That one had nerve."
Both Empet and Kala roared as they drank to their ancestor. Selneth narrowed her eyes and stepped away from them. Not that old hag again.
Kaine let out a bright laugh as he clapped Kadir on the back lightly. "If you're not careful, friend, you will be unable to be rid of House Topian. With toasts like that, you will endear yourself to both the Mistress and her heir."
"Is that such a treacherous thing, friend?" Kadir asked genially. "They're a fine looking lot on top of all the other virtues."
"Not at all," Kaine smirked. "I love my mother and sisters, they are good, honourable women who deserve only the best." Leaning in close so that only Kadir could hear him, he added, "If you have eyes for Kala, take care of her for me. She is the best of us."
"And do you find I'm worthy of such a fine female?" Kadir asked in the same tone. He respected the opinions of all the men he'd been with in that place, even if he didn't necessarily agree, and this one's even more so.
"More than worthy, friend," Kaine said with a small smile. "I would be honoured to call you brother. Good for you to see the strength in my sister though. All of the women in this house are fine."
Kadir was no fool. He wasn't going to say, right at that moment, that he preferred one sister over the other though he supposed it was obvious. One had to cultivate relationships of all sorts very carefully. "Look at my SoS. Do you think I could not respect any strong female? The one she works for must truly be a sharp minded man to choose a Klingon female."
"Certainly a wise idea," Kaine agreed..Empet eyed her son in deep conference with Kadir and sniffed in amusement. "Now what are you so intent about, boy?"
Giving his mother a wide smile, Kaine simply shrugged. "That all Klingon women are fierce and to be respected." Then he draped an arm around Roberta and kissed her cheek. "As are all warrior women, no matter the race."
Roberta had serious doubts that she could be called a warrior but she kept them to herself. Instead, she smiled up at Kaine. "I'll learn to be a proper mix of me and Klingon alright. You'll see."
"Just so long as you don't change, my Cliodhna," Kaine asked, his eyes on hers. "I love you as you are. Don't let my mother bully you into becoming something you are not."
"I do not bully!" Empet huffed fondly. "You prod, SoS," Kala observed innocently.."And nag," came a light voice from the entrance to the bar. Tia let out a bright squeal as she launched herself at her brother.
He had put on enough weight that, not only did his sister's hug not knock him to the floor, but he could gather the slighter, lighter woman up and spin her around. "Tia," he laughed. "You have grown up, little girl."
Roberta had to grin at the reunion. This was the reality that Kaine feared losing and she could understand that. These were wonderful people.
Once he set her back on her feet, he kept an arm around his sister and moved her to the group. "Kadir, I want you to meet my youngest sister, Tia. She's our prettiest and sweetest."
"Our little singing bird," Kala teased as she poked Tia's shoulder. "Where's your pet?"
Tia sniffed in amusement. "Khaiell decided that being surrounded by Klingons was not a wise place for a Romulan to be."
"You, ah, might want to send him toward Georgetown to visit if he wants to see more Romulans. Chief Lynley says one of their civilians is a Romulan doctor," Roberta suggested.
"He's serving as the body-guard for their Ambassadors to the Federation," Tia smirked, "I'm sure he sees enough of his own people to live without for a few days."
"I cannot believe my little sister has chosen a Romulan," Kaine said in mock-tragedy. "What's the galaxy coming to?"
"Right where it ought to be?" Roberta teased.Kaine laughed brightly as he kissed her firmly. "Just as I am, as we all are, right where we ought to be."
-- "...and I had done nothing...but shoot an unarmed Cardassian in his underwear."-Li Nalas