This story was submitted for a fanfic Star Trek Christmas contest and won the first prize.
It was a cold day with a strong blizzard blowing across the desolated wastelands on the northern hemisphere on the third planet in the Xandora system, located in the Hromi cluster. You couldn't see more than a few meters ahead, the snow blinding your eyesight any further than that. To make matters worse, the thick heavy clouds blocked out the little bit of sunlight that was still there. Sunrise had come hours ago, but days were short in this time of year on the planet.
The biting cold could kill anybody not adequately prepared within an hour due to hypothermia. The chilling wind blew straight through most clothing, only the best thermal suits allowing you to maintain your body heat.
In this cold two young boys were clinging onto each other in the remains of a crashed freighter. Their section was the only part that made it through the crash mostly unscratched. In two days it would be Christmas. Mere hours ago they were looking forward to unwrapping their presents below the Christmas tree in the ship's lounge and now they were the sole survivors of a crash. Their parents were dead, the fate of their friends unknown and the Federation was unreachable.
“What happened Jason?” the youngest of the two asked his two year older brother, fear clear in his voice.
“I don't know William, I only remember mum rushing into our room and dragging us both out of bed, telling us to hide in the aft section of the ship. She immediately left after that,” the ten year old boy replied with an unsure voice.
He was doing his best to comfort his little brother, but truth be told he was pretty scared himself. He wrapped the blanket a little tighter around them while he hugged his younger brother, sharing his body heat with his shivering sibling and trying reassure him. Both were clueless what to do and hoped that rescue would come soon.
A lone Klingon warrior was trudging through the terrible storm, in search of his prey. He was a mercenary, hired by Orion Syndicate to capture and retrieve a smuggler who had betrayed one of the crime lords. All the smuggler had gained was a few containers with valuable goods and a bounty on his head for betraying his former employer.
The idiot probably thought a few missing containers wouldn't be noticed... Stupid son of a Targ... the Klingon thought for the hundredth time.
Five hours earlier he had decided to make his move on the vessel the smuggler had tried to escape with. It was a civilian freighter that was half filled with cargo, several passenger and this traitor. The Klingon had stalked the freighter for several days already with his ship in cloak, waiting for the perfect opportunity to strike and beam the smuggler off the ship.
The freighter was an old model and seemed to be held together by duck tape, grease and space dust. The ship should have been taken out of commission two decades ago and was poorly maintained, but the owner was a poor captain who couldn't afford to replace his vessel.
It didn't come as a surprise to Kabro that the freighter experienced engine problems when they passed through a nebula, the gas constipating the antique engine inlets, clogging up the systems and eventually disabling its warp drive.
The freighter was forced to continue on impulse until they managed to solve the problem and he choose that moment to decloak and fire a single photon torpedo at his target.
The results were dramatic, power failures occurred all across the ship but unfortunately for Kabro the freighter was more prepared for an attack than he had foreseen. Having dealt with raiders plenty of times in the past the freighter immediately dropped several transphasic mines in a random pattern around itself. It was the only modern piece of equipment that the freighter had available and the defensive measures took him completely off guard. He went to evasive maneuvers immediately and it was all he could do to prevent from being blown to pieces by the mines.
One of the mines still got a lucky shot at him after it detected his impulse signature, critically damaging his ship. His disruptors quickly fired several salvos at the freighter, hitting it on random spots and forcing it to stop deploying more mines.
It gave Kabro the time he needed to cloak his vessel and inspect the damages he received from a safe distance, executing emergency repairs wherever he could.
“PetaQ, curse my rotten luck... Full repairs will just have to wait till I'm back on Qo'noS,” Kabro muttered, resigned to paying a hefty repair bill in the dockyards after they fully restored his ship.
Business had been slow lately and he needed this job now more then ever. Back on the freighter life must have been hell however, Kabro's ship was in great shape compared to the chaos that had erupted aboard the freighter after his attack. The captain had been killed and with the engines severely damaged, life support failing and structural integrity down to sixty-five percent the only chance to make it through alive was to land the ship on a M class planet in the nearby Xandora system.
It was unlikely that the ship would ever leave orbit again. They'd just have to make do until somebody found and rescued them from the planet, but at least they'd still be alive. The freighter had sent out emergency hails on all the subspace channels to the Federation to come to their aid, but so far there had been no response. An additional disaster for the pilot was that the navigation systems were off line and he was forced to land the ship by hand.
Kabro saw how the freighter crashed down on the planet, leaving a trail of several kilometers of fire and debris behind somewhere on the northern hemisphere. He prayed to his ancestors that his target was still alive or could at least be identified sufficiently to get some of his reward. A corpse would bring in less gold pressed latinum but it beat nothing.
The unlucky mine hit had taken down Kabro's transporters, and he was forced to land his ship on the planet so he could trace his target down. His scanners showed that the freighter had crashed down in middle of a terrible blizzard and he sighed resigned to the idea of an unpleasant journey through biting wind and bone chilling cold. When he got into a low orbit the blizzard also made it impossible for his scanners to get an accurate reading on the exact location of the passenger module. It would likely take him several hours to find the undoubtedly dead smuggler, or what was left of him.
That had all happened five hours ago and since then he had been trudging through the snow in a bad mood, but at least his journey was about to come to an end. According to his portable scanner the freighter was just up ahead, though he couldn't see it yet due to that damned blizzard.
“I really should get me one of those fancy Federation tricorders on the black market some day... They're supposedly far more accurate than this antique scanner,” Kabro muttered while shaking his scanner roughly, in hopes to get a more accurate signal.
A few minutes later he reached the freighter, or what was left of it anyway. His portable scanner allowed him to find the smuggler and as expected he was dead.
“Figures... There goes half of my bounty...” Kabro remarked with an angry voice, “well there is no way I'm gonna drag his ugly ass all the way back through that blizzard... His head will have to make do!”
With that Kabro pulled out his qis, a small curved Klingon blade, and cut the head of the smuggler off, putting it in a bag he carried with him. Kabro felt no remorse whatsoever for having killed so many civilians with his unprovoked attack. He knew he could have just demanded that the captain would hand the smuggler over to him, but somehow this felt more satisfying.
“Making threats is just a waste of breath, if you can kill them just as easily. Saves a whole bunch of time...” Kabro said, still angry that he had to walk through this blizzard for several hours before he made it back again to the comforts of his ship.
A stumbling noise and some metal falling on the ground broke the monotone howling of the wind. Kabro immediately turned himself around, ready to kill anybody who dared to attack.
When he only saw two scared human boys standing in the snow his holstered his qis again. Kabro might be a cold blooded killer but when an opponent was as weak as these two there was no honor in the kill. Had they been several years older and taken on a defensive pose than he wouldn't have thought twice about killing them, but alas, that was not the case here.
Probably the only survivors of this crash... I'm surprised anybody survived at all, Kabro thought.
“What do you want?” Kabro barked in their direction with his deep gruff voice.
He could see a visible shiver run through the boys and had to smirk at that, apparently his voice alone was enough already to scare these little punks.
“Mister, you gotta help us. Our ship crashed on this planet and everybody died. Even mom and dad,” the bolder of the two replied, sniffing slightly.
“Not my problem,” Kabro replied cold heartedly, crossing his arms and daring them to provoke him.
“But you have to mister, we're all alone here! We've got some rations if you want, it's getting dark outside and you can't go home through this blizzard,” the oldest of the two tried.
Kabro considered the lad's offer, he did have a point. Kabro had used up all his good rations on his trek and had only some emergency ration packs left. His blasted replicators had gone off line when the mine hit his ship and apart from a raw liver that passed its expiration date he didn't have much in stock.
“Very well, I'll stay for the night. After that you're on your own,” Kabro huffed, picking up his bag with the smuggler's head in it and followed the boys inside the last intact section of the freighter.
The freighter was in an even sadder shape than Kabro had imagined it would be. His assessment while it was still flying in space had been very accurate and might have even been an understatement. The remains of this section were in a very sorry state, but as promised by the boys there were enough rations to last for several weeks and even a few old mattresses and blankets to sleep on.
This must have been the section where they kept their supplies in case the replicators went down... That is assuming this freighter had any replicators to begin with. If it had than they were either very unreliable or broke down a lot, otherwise they wouldn't have had a need for so much spare rations, Kabro thought.
He considered himself lucky that he didn't have to live on such a ship, hauling cargo and passengers just wasn't his thing. He preferred to be on his own where he wouldn't be bothered by others and could do as he pleased without having to take others into account.
The idea that there was also a lot of love between the family members aboard the freighter went completely lost to him, never even considering that some people might prefer such a life over that of a loner who had to kill for a living.
After a cold but delicious meal Kabro grabbed one of the blankets and found himself a quiet corner where he laid down a mattress and went to sleep. The boys had been grateful that Kabro opened a few cans for them too since they didn't have any tools to do so themselves and after their dinner they didn't know what to do. Figuring it'd be best not to disturb the gruffly Klingon and whatever it was that he carried in his bag they went to bed too.
Kabro was twisting and turning on his mattress. Normally he had no trouble falling asleep, but tonight something was keeping him awake. He was intending to leave quietly in the morning, taking his precious bag with him and then leave the planet. The boys would just have to fend for themselves, he had no room for two human children aboard his ship. He realized very well that this would mean a death sentence for the boys, but he couldn't care less. It wasn't the first time he'd done this and he doubt it'd be the last. At last the fatigue of the day caught up with him and he fell in a fitful sleep.
“There you are mister Kabro... My my what a dishonorable bastard you are...” a voice remarked out of nowhere.
Kabro immediately drew his qis and turned around, ready to plunge his blade in the first chest he saw for that insult. He spotted a man in robes and rushed towards him, but before he could put his knife in the man's chest he raised his hand and he motioned him to stop his attack.
The calm manner in which he did made Kabro rethink his actions and he halted his advance.
“Who are you and where am I?” Kabro barked at the robed figure instead.
“Why I am The Traveler and we are on a different plane of existence,” The Traveler replied while lowering his hood, revealing his head.
The man was bald with gray temples and had crystal clear blue eyes that seemed to look directly into your soul.
Kabro was slightly taken aback by his appearance and gruffly asked, “what do you want?”
“That is simple to answer... It is almost Christmas, a Human holiday which is celebrated by the Federation, it is a time of rebirth and joy. What I want is that you reconsider your decision to leave these boys to die when it's almost Christmas. You're already responsible for the deaths of their parents and friends and this is the least you can do for them,” The Traveler looked at Kabro sternly and Kabro had to swallow. He hadn't felt this uneasy in a long time, but he wasn't convinced yet.
The Traveler continued, “tonight I will let three officers visit you from three different factions, each of them will offer you an option to take the boys off your hands once you're back in space. It is up to you to decide what happens to the boys, but each choice will mean that they'll survive the aftermath of the crash and live.”
Before Kabro had a chance to reply he was getting very sleepy again, slipping away in the darkness.
It felt only a few minutes, but could have very well been hours, that he woke up again. Before him stood a Trill Federation officer.
“Who are you and what do you want?” Kabro remarked with an angry tone in his voice.
His past experiences with the Federation weren't much to write home about and the only thing stopping him from outright killing the Trill the was the memory of The Traveler's penetrating gaze.
That old fart will probably do something bad to me if I kill his pawns before hearing them out...
The Trill was slightly taken aback by Kabro's grumpy appearance, but he introduced himself anyway, “I am Norvo Terlim and what I want is those two boys... You can't seriously be considering to leave two harmless children behind on a frozen planet after you already killed their parents and friends, can you?”
Kabro shrugged and Norvo continued, “if you hand the boys over to the first Federation vessel you encounter then we'll make sure that they'll be cared for and fed. If they have any relatives left alive then we'll do our best to find those and return the children to their family. We'll make sure that they grow into healthy strong men and become fine Federation officers one day.”
That last comment made Kabro very angry and with a scowl on his face he venomously replied, “PetaQ! That is exactly the problem! I hand these children over and some day in the future they'll come looking for me to avenge their parents, do you take me for a fool!?”
Kabro muttered several other insults while the darkness was slowly engulfing him again.
This story is split up into two parts, to continue reading click here.
© Copyright 2013 Jasper Storm