Here we go!

Chapter Three: Answers not Wanted

Kyp stomped down the hall. His hands clenched and he bit his lip as he increased his gait. Several Klingons and even a few members of species Kyp didn't recognize stopped and stared at him... and then increased their gait, hurrying away from the Jedi Master as his aura flashed between red, blue and indigo.

He let his feet carry him around, down long corridors lit by flickering torches. His mind barely registered the passage of time until he stopped beside a single door near the back of the Great Hall. He glanced down at a nameplate right above the door's controls, then smacked his forehead. "Can't read Klingonese," he muttered. Kyp half-closed his eyes and reached out, sensing the familiar aura of Gartul and someone else. He tapped the control panel, letting the Force guide his fingers. "Councilor, I must speak with you."

The door slid open, revealing a somewhat small office. A desk was placed near the back, with a rather large viewscreen dominating the far wall. Several cabinets, computer terminals and one other door lined the wall. Gratul sat at the desk while an odd alien stood next to him. It... he was purple, with multiple tentacles and three eyes on stalks jutting from his bulbous head. One of the tentacles was curled around a bulky PADD, studded and heavy-looking.

Gartul waved the being off. "We shall continue this later, Yok," he grumbled. He stood up and held his arms out, grinning. "Welcome, Kyp! Have you come to announce you want Jaroul's hand in marriage?"

Kyp opened his mouth, closed it then opened it again before blinking. He looked to the side, then stepped out of the office. The door slid closed, then opened again. Kyp stepped back into the office. "Okay, gonna try this again," he muttered before looking at Gartul with blazing emerald eyes. "Councilor, what are jeghpu'wI'?" he asked.

Gartul's stance shifted ever so slightly. "They are the subject races of the Empire. Why?"

Kyp breathed through his nose and steadied himself. "Before I answer, I must tell you about my own past." He thumped his chest. "My old home was the Deyer Colony in the Anoat System. When I was nine, the old Empire rounded up 'dissidents' and shipped them off to slave labor camps or other, worse fates." He paused and rubbed the bridge of his nose. "I spent the next eight years in the spice mines of Kessel, a living hell. My parents died... and I sometimes wonder if it was better to have joined them."

Gartul's mouth turned down. "But you survived, stronger and more powerful. What does this..." His voice trailed off and he glanced to Yok, still standing to the side of his desk. "Yok, how did you come to be my secretary?"

Yok's beak clacked open and his middle eyestalk shot up. "Oh, my. Has senility set in, sir? I could ask the lady Jaroul to-"

"Answer the question!" Gartul barked, balling up his fist and slamming it into his desk. He fell down into his chair and tossed his arms up. "For twenty-five years, you have enraged me. I should kill you, now!"

Yok's body shook slightly. "Ah, yes. Please kill the only being in the Klingon Empire able to keep you in line and make sure you reach your appointments." His beak clacked and his head wavered. "Oh, very well." Two of his eyestalks swiveled over to gaze at Kyp. "To answer Councilor Gartok's question, I applied for the position about twenty-five years ago. You interviewed and hired me."

Gartul nodded and waved his hand to Kyp. "Yok is a Pheben, a jeghpu'wI'. They are not slaves, Kyp. Subjects, yes. But not slaves. They have rights." He glanced down to his desk, then back up. "Although it was not always so."

A chair opposite Gartul slid back, allowing Kyp to step over to it and sit down. "You lost your way," he stated evenly. "The Klingons forgot what Kahless taught you."

A snort came from the councilor. "Others would challenge you to a fight to the death over such words. Fortunately, I am not a fool." He leaned back and looked to the ceiling. "Once, we knew that being a warrior was simply a path to honor. Not merely the path. Doctors, politicians, farmers and merchants. All could achieve Sto-vo-kor as long as they led their lives with honor."

Kyp leaned forward. "What happened? And how have you regained sight of the path?"

Gartul's eyes clouded over slightly. "A little over a thousand years ago, an alien species known as the Hur'q invaded and sacked Q'onos. We eventually drove them off, but they left behind devastation. Our cities were in ruins, our fields salted and our people scared. We quickly began building fleets, vowing to never be weak like that again." His fist suddenly curled into a ball and he slammed it into his duranium desk, denting it. "But we lost sight of our honor! We became conquerors and-yes-slavers. We became the Hur'q ourselves."

There was silence for a few heartbeats before Kyp spoke once more. "And now?"

"There have always been those who remember the true path of honor, or have been reminded of it by outsiders such as James Kirk or Diego Reyes. But it wasn't until Chancellor Gorkon in 2293 who was able to truly set us once more on the true path." Gartul smiled sadly. "Over the past eighty years, the jeghpu'wI' have gained more rights. We still conquer species, but it is less conquering and more..." He shrugged. "Why bother? We conquer. But that is our way. We are aggressive by nature, barely held in check by our honor and ego." He spread his arms out. "We are Klingons, Kyp Durron. No other explanation is necessary."

Kyp sat there for a moment before standing up. "Thank you for your time and words," he said. He looked up to Yok. "Thank you as well. I am glad you're not a slave... but I wish you were something more in the Empire."

Yok's eyestalks dipped slightly. "Thank you, but really, it's no problem. I've got a good salary and can send a substantial portion back home to the family farm on Phebes. My retirement plan's the envy of my spawning pool!"

Kyp blinked. He leaned forward slightly. "Your family farm? Your family owns property?"

Yok's body shuddered. "I did just at least imply that, didn't I?" His eyestalks drooped. "Yes. It's been in my family for over seven generations. One of the larger on Phebes, but not the largest." One of his tentacles shot up and the tip curled, shaking. "One day, Ladg, one day we shall surpass you!"

Gartul's head slowly turned and he looked up at Yok. "Yes, Yok. That will be... all. I'll see you in the morning." His eyes followed the Pheben as he shuffled off to the door and out. The councilor then looked back at Kyp. "Things were worse for the jeghpu'wI'. They are better, though."

Kyp bit his lips and his brow furrowed. He slid his chair back and stood. "Thank you, Councilor," he said, thumping his chest. "I am glad for the information you gave me here."

Gartul rose and returned the salute. "Such information will aid you in your negotiations, Kyp. Both with Martok and with Jaroul."

The Jedi opened his mouth, but snapped it shut. His right eyebrow rose slightly. "Wait... what?" he half-shouted. His hands clenched. "What in the Force are you talking about?"

A rumbling sigh came from Gartul. "I have heard from Jaroul how well you two get along." He walked around his desk to stand by Kyp's side. "I have seen you, Master Jedi. You have the soul of a warrior, of a Klingon!" He reared back and patted Kyp on the arm. "You would make a fine addition to the House of Gartul!"

A fine sheen of sweat suddenly appeared on Kyp's forehead. "Gartul, I've known your daughter for," he raised his arm and looked at his wrist chrono, "a whopping twenty-two hours! She's strong-willed, feistier than a Dathomiri and is pretty damned smart. We spent a lot of last night discussing Klingon philosophy along with some of your literary works and someone named Shakespeare. In time-"

"In time?" Gartul interrupted. He threw his hands into the air and groaned. "Kyp, the time is now! Do not think like a human, here." He brought his right hand up to chest-level and clenched it, a grin on his face. "Think like a Klingon!" Before Kyp could do anything, Gartul's smile widened, baring his sharpened teeth. "Of course, if you do anything to hurt my daughter, Force or no Force, I'll skin you alive and make sure you feel every second of it," he said, poking Kyp lightly in the chest. "Have fun!"

Kyp's green eyes darted back and forth, a smile trying to form on his lips and failing miserably. He took a few steps back to the door. "I'll keep that in mind," he said. "I'm going to go talk to Jaroul, now. Just talk." He thumped his chest again as the door slid open, allowing him to turn and run out of Gartul's office.

Gartul let a smile play across his mouth. "Ah, youth. Sometimes they can't see the fleet for the ships."

Kyp half-ran from Gartul's office, mind still swimming. He looked around the corridors he traveled through, noting that non-Klingons seemed to have tripled in number. He focused his green eyes on them, looking for shock collars or shackles-and finding none. Some of them carried packages, some carried datapads-or PADDs as the locals called them-but none wore collars, or chains or anything like that. Their heads were held up with what resembled pride, not down in supplication.

Some caught Kyp looking them over and he turned away, cheeks reddening. He scratched the back of his head, reaching out this time with the Force. Trepidation, a little bit of worry. But it's not overwhelming. Subjects before their lord. He shook his head as he walked on. Even this is a bit too much for me.

His feet carried him to a turbolift alcove. The double doors slid open and he stepped into the empty car. Loud operatic singing filled the air. His head began bobbing to the beat as the car rose. It eventually stopped and the door opened, letting Kyp out. "I bet it was just getting to the good part, too," he groused.

The Jedi Master walked down the corridor, eventually coming to two large wooden doors. Klingoneses was chiseled into an elaborate stone archway above the doors, which themselves had achingly beautiful scrawls and loops carved into them. Kyp half-closed his eyes. I sense intellect, curiosity. Almost reverence.

"Kyp, what are you doing here?"

Kyp's eyes shot open. He turned to see Jaroul standing there, clad in a black ankle-length dress and carrying two paper books. He blinked a few times before finally speaking. "Jaroul!" He suddenly cleared his throat. "Good to see you."

Jaroul smiled, and the corridors suddenly seemed less dim to Kyp. "Good to see you as well." She looked up at the Klingonese, then back down. "This is the Great Library, the second-largest collection of books and scrolls in the Empire." She held up the books. "I am studying my House's history. I'm the only child, so there's a good chance I will become House head."

Kyp's brow furrowed. He reached out with the Force, creating a 'dead zone' around him and Jaroul, deflecting away passers by from their conversation. "'Good chance'? I'd say it's almost certain."

Jaroul's lips twitched and her eyes narrowed. "Unless special dispensation is granted by the High Council, only males may become the head of a Great House. Martok is trying to change that, but he's being opposed by several of the more 'conservative' Houses."

"And by conservative you mean stuffy and outdated," Kyp replied. He crossed his arms and shook his head. "Not exactly the most progressive society you have, is it?"

Jarouls' eyes widened and her upper lip curled back. "Need I remind you about your treatment of droids?" she exclaimed. Her left arm lashed out and she punched him in his right arm.

"Ow!" Kyp shouted, stumbling back. He clutched the already-swelling point of impact. "Stang, Jaroul! You know how I feel about slavery! I could cite the jeghpu'wI if I wanted."

Jaroul paused. She glanced to to the side, gazing at the stone floor. "A low blow. Accurate, but low." She sighed. "Our treatment of the subject races of the Empire has not always been the best." She suddenly paused. "Wait, how do you know of them?"

The Jedi shrugged. "I just came from a conversation with your father about the jeghpu'wI. I'm glad to hear you hold similar views," he said, smiling.

Jarouls snorted. "You were a slave, once. You told me of Zeth and the Empire of old sending you to Kessel for the simple crime of not condoning the destruction of a planet." She reached out her free hand and touched the spot where she had just punched him. The jeghpu'wI are not Klingons, but that doesn't make them inferior."

Kyp covered her hand with his own. He looked at her as her head rose and the two locked eyes. He stepped forward, his heart hammering triple-time in his chest. He abruptly lurched away. "Well, gotta get these books brought back to-" His voice-and air supply-were suddenly cut off when Jaroul grabbed him by his shirt and tugged forward, planting a quick kiss on his lips. "Hmm-mmm!"

She held the kiss for a pair of heartbeats before pushing him away. There was a savage glint in her eyes. "You want me!" she declared. "I want you, as well." She stepped forward and looked up slightly at Kyp. "Sparks have been going off between us since we met. Do not deny your passions, Kyp. Unless that's what Jedi do."

Kyp shook his head and pounded the side of it, trying to clear it. "Jaroul-Jaroul!" he half-shouted. "Come on, we've known each other for less than a day!"

"So?" she responded, shrugging. "Time matters little in this case. We both can feel it. So why not act on it?" Her stance suddenly shifted. "Unless Jedi do not act on it?"

Kyp's face flushed red. "We do act on it, Jaroul. Trust me on that. And sometimes, we do lose control. Like I did on Carida, or at the Cauldron Nebula. When I destroyed stars with the Sun Crusher." He stumbled back, balling his right hand into a fist and slamming it into the wall. Tiny chunks of stone flew from the impact as tiny trails of blood leaked from his hand. "I lost control then, Jaroul."

Jaroul's mouth set itself in a grim line. She reached over and took Kyp's bleeding hand. "When you were a younger man, with nothing but hate. Now you're older, wiser. And you're not alone, either. Ganner, Miko and Wurth are your friends. And I am here, Kyp." She kissed his still-bleeding hand. "If you would have me."

A smile cracked Kyp's face. He swallowed and let loose with a shuddery breath. "Thanks." He licked his suddenly-dry lips before motioning to the doors. "Might wanna return those books. I don't want you to get a library fine or whatever it is Klingon librarians do," he said as the doors opened.

Jaroul smiled and shook her head. She stepped around him and entered, Kyp following. He stopped as he saw shelves and shelves of books and scrolls, each one made of actual paper, bound together. A three-meter tall statue of two Klingons, one male and one female, dominated the center. Each one was dressed in robes and held books aloft in the air. Various Klingons and non-Klingons milled about, each one either silent or speaking in hushed tones.

Kyp's green eyes and sense in the Force tracked Jaroul as she approached a reception desk several meters long. She placed the books on the desk in front of an eldery Klingon female and signed some papers before half-skipping back to Kyp. "My place or yours?" she asked, winking.

Kyp cleared his throat and reached up to tug on his non-existent collar. "The boys are still with Maarek, so where are you staying here at the Great Hall?"

Jaroul took his hand and led him out of the Great Library and down a corridor to a turbolift alcove. "My family has an estate at the Sea of Gatan, but that is several hours by speeder. We could go by transporter, though." The car they rode on stopped and the double doors slid open. "I don't think it would be good for you to leave the Great Hall, though," she said as she led him out and down a more modern-looking corridor, lined with duranium instead of stone. She stopped before a set of doors and pushed several buttons on a keypad next to the door. "These rooms are for family of the High Council in case they cannot leave the Great Hall."

The door opened and Jaroul led Kyp inside. Lights flickered on, revealing a somewhat sparse room. There were a few chairs around a table, and two doors led to other rooms.

Jaroul looked to Kyp. "If you n-" She was cut off when the back of Kyp's hand struck her cheek. She stumbled to the left, eyes losing focus for a bit. "Do you realize what you've done?" she spat out, hand reaching up to her split lip.

Kyp nodded. "I do." His stance shifted slightly. "And let's just say today is not a good day to die."

Jaroul chuckled before leaping at Kyp, responding not with words, but with actions.

The next morning

Miko picked at the plate of food set in front of him and shook his head. He looked up at Ganner, Wurth and Maarek as the food bubbled and shifted without anymore prompting. "I am never complaining about anyone's cooking back home ever again," he stated, finally sliding the plate away with a Force push.

Ganner looked up from his own plate and shrugged. He jabbed a fork at a piece of meat, finally spearing it after a third try. "I've eaten worse," he said, voice muffled between chewing. He swallowed and his expression darkened. "But I'm more worried about Kyp." He tapped the side of his head. "He cut us off last night and hasn't reestablished anything beyond letting us know he's alive."

Maarek looked up from his empty plate and smirked. "Considering who else is in the Great Hall, I have an idea of where he went off to and who he saw."

Miko finally pushed his plate away. "I wonder if they have any fruit," he said, grumbling. The younger Jedi looked up at Marek. "I doubt they'd go that far. And-" he stopped talking as a blocked line in his mind reopened. He turned around in his chair as the room's door to the outer corridor slid open. "Kyp, good to..." He trailed off as the Jedi Master appeared, his eyes widening. "The kriff?"

Kyp half-limped, half-stumbled into the room. His right arm dangled, flopping slightly with each movement. Four thin scars crossed his left cheek, still red and puckered. His hair was tangled and undone, a complete mess. And to complete the image his clothes hung loosely, torn and disheveled. He walked up to the table and looked around at the four gaping men.

"Hell of a night!" he half-shouted. He raised his left hand and an untouched cup of blood wine on the table floated into his hand. Kyp raised it and downed the entire contents of the cup with one swig. He shivered and grimaced, slamming the empty-vessel to the table. "Ah, it's good to be alive!"

Wurth rose from his seat, jaw slack. He ran over to Kyp and looked him over. "What the hell happened to you?" he exclaimed. "It looks like a pack of gundarks attacked you!" His expression suddenly turned serious. "Was this an assassination attempt?"

Kyp threw his head back and laughed. "Ah, Wurth! Never lose that sense of humor." He looked to the door as a feminine silhouette appeared, blocking the corridor light. "Isn't that right, my par'Mach'kai?"

Jaroul limped into the room and up to Kyp. She ran her fingers down his exposed forearm, sending shivers down his spine. "Indeed, Kyp," she said, smiling and showing bloodstained teeth. She looked to Ganner, Wurth, Miko and Maarek and bowed, sweeping her left arm out. "And how are you boys doing?" she asked, her disheveled hair flopping around and over her forehead crest.

Miko blinked. He looked to Ganner and sighed. "I'll take a cup of brain bleach, please," he said, holding out his hand.

Ganner met Miko's eyes and shrugged. "Only if I can get a double on that, Miko." He looked up from his seat at Kyp and Jaroul as the two stood there, arms wrapped around each other. "Hey, get a room!"

Kyp shrugged, gazing into Jaroul's bottomless brown eyes. "Well, we'd need a new one. The one I stayed in last night is a bit... destroyed." A rakish grin crossed his face. "Although we sure had fun destroying it!" he exclaimed, leaning in and planting a kiss on Jaroul's mouth.

Maarek clapped his hands together and grinned devilishly. "Wonderful, Durron! You've managed to overcome the diplomatic corps' sheer incompetence handling your information by blending into their culture and embracing both your inner and outer Klingon." He waved his hand over to the side and his valise. "All I had to rely on was painstaking research done by the Remnant's own corps and in-depth interviews. I never had a chance."

Jaroul eyed him and arched an eyebrow. "What do you mean by that?" she asked, demeanor shifting slightly. "There's no reason why both the New Republic and Imperial Remnant can't be honorable allies of the Empire. You're both making good strides with the Federation, after all."

Maarek shrugged and picked up his own mug of blood wine. He eyed the mug and swished the contents around slightly before taking a sip. "I have a feeling we're in more competition here than it seems," he mused. "Completely unintentional, but I have a feeling even if negotiations succeed with both our governments, there'll still be one side the High Council will favor more." His head suddenly snapped around. "And we seem to have a new visitor!"

Kyp's brow furrowed. He looked to Jaroul, took a half-step away from her and turned around, looking at the door. "Wait, I feel you here but also..." His voice trailed off as the door slid open, revealing another Klingon female.

The woman stepped into the room. Gray streaked through her long hair and there were wrinkles around her eyes. She looked to Jaroul with brown eyes identical to the younger woman and scowled. "So, this is the petaQ you have chosen, my daughter?" She reached around and pulled a bat'leth from a sheath on her red shirt. She hefted the two-handed scimitar at Kyp. "You dare defile my precious Jaroul? I shall gut you like Molor!"

Jaroul's eyes widened and her jaw dropped. "Mother?" she exclaimed.

Ganner, Miko and Wurth all looked to the new arrival. "Mother?"

Maarek simply placed his mug down and slid his sleeve up, checking a wrist chrono. "Hmm, it's 1800 hours on Bastion. I get dinner and a show!"

Kyp's own green eyes turned into approximations of saucers. "Mother?" He looked to Jaroul. "Didn't you say she had gone?"

Jaroul scratched the side of her head, right behind her forehead crest. "Well... I meant gone to Krios to look over some House business and other things." She caught his glare and threw her arms out to the side in exasperation. "Well, we were a little busy and didn't have time to-"

"ENOUGH!" the older woman bellowed. She hefted her weapon and grinned, an odd light in her eyes. "I am Ferqi, of the House of Gartul. And I shall kill you!" she screamed, swinging the bat'leth up and over her shoulder, bringing it straight down at Kyp's head.

The Jedi Master sank into the Force. He pushed Jaroul away, diving in the opposite direction. The blade whistled past his ear as he rolled to the right, coming up on one knee. He bit back a shout as pain lanced through his shoulder, but her pushed it back as his lightsaber sprang to his hand and ignited with a snap-hiss. He held the violet plasma blade up and blocked another overhead swing from Ferqi. "It's an-" He parried and blow away. "-to meet you and-" He bounded back as Ferqi swung at his midsection. "your daughter is a wonderful woman. I see-" He hopped backwards, over a footstool and landed with nary a bump. "-the resemblance. Little help, guys!"

Ganner looked to Miko and Wurth, then to Kyp as the latter dodged and parried more attacks. "I think you've got her right where she wants you, Kyp!" He poked a bit at his food. "Besides, my gagh isn't moving around as much as before. And I don't want to waste it."

Kyp groaned as he continued backing up, Ferqi continuing to slash and hack at him. He sank into Jedi battle meditation, his vision little more than a tunnel focused on the attacks. A small part of his mind wondered how Klingon weapons were lightsaber-resistant. The much larger portion focused on pure survival against the madwoman.

His back finally hit the stone wall on the far side of the main room. He ducked another horizontal swing and dove to his left. He glanced back in time to see the tip of the bat'leth hit a crack in the wall-and lodge itself in.

Spittle flew from Ferqi's mouth as she tugged on the weapon. She planted a foot on the wall and, with a burst of strength, freed it from the crack. She tumbled back and was about to trip over the footstool Kyp had leapt over, but suddenly stopped in mid-flight. "What sorcery is this?" she cried out, arms flailing.

Kyp's eyes half-closed as he telekinetically straightened Ferqi out. "That's me," he said, smirking. He lowered his hand and sighed. "Ferqi, is it?"

Ferqi nodded. She tugged on the hem of her dress and looked herself over. "You could've let me fall," she stated, voice neutral.

There was a pause before Kyp shook his head. "No. You're a mother watching out for her daughter. Admittedly your protection of her might be a bit... extreme. And illegal in most cultures. But I can't really fault you for it." He gestured a bit with his good hand, waving his lightsaber about a bit. "Besides, letting the mother die is an awful thing to do to your par'Mach'kai."

Ferqi snorted. She raised her weapon, but quickly lowered it. "Your right arm is useless," she commented. "Yet in a true fight, you would still kill me. But you won't."

Kyp nodded. He flipped the emitter switch on his lightsaber and clipped the handle to his belt. He walked forward and extended his hand. "I've known Jaroul for about thirty-six hours, but she's stirred feelings in me I never thought I'd be able to feel. It's quick as all hells, but I do love her. And I would never hurt her."

The older woman looked at his hand. She whirled around as Jaroul approached. "Daughter, do you love him?" she asked, voice growing quiet. She motioned to Kyp and clenched her hand. "Is he the one whose heart beats in time with yours?"

Jarould walked past her mother and took Kyp's hand in hers. She kissed it gently before turning back to Ferqi. "Yes, Mother," she said. She grinned. "He is a Klingon at heart."

Ferqi let out a sigh. She walked up to the pair and stopped a few steps away. She thumped her chest before extending her arm in a Klingon salute. "Qapla', Kyp Durron!"

Kyp let go of Jaroul's hand and returned the salute. "Qapla', Ferqi." He stifled a groan. "Ah, kriff..." He winced and rolled his eyes as sparks danced in his vision. "Any chance someone could give me a hand with my arm, please?"

Ganner appeared by his side. He grabbed Kyp's right arm and began manipulating it, pulling and prodding. "If Cilghal or Lusa were here, this'd be a snap," he muttered as the arm wiggled about.

There was a sudden pop and Kyp felt his arm return to some semblance of normal. He gasped and pulled his arm out of Ganner's grip." Thanks," he cried out. His arm blurred and he smacked Ganner on the back of his head. "And next time give me a hand when I'm being attacked!"

Ganner placed a hand on his muscular chest. "What, but you were doing so well! I knew there wasn't any way you'd be in danger." He glanced at Jaroul. "Well, any danger from Ferqi here. Jaroul on the other hand..."

Jaroul growled and bared her sharpened teeth at him. "Quiet, boy." She grabbed Kyp's left hand once more. "You realize Father must be told."

A sigh escaped Kyp's lips. He raised his right arm and flexed his hand a few times before brushing some of his long hair from his eyes. "Why do I have a feeling Ferqi here was the easy part when it comes to the parents?"

Ferqi's eyes narrowed. "And what do you mean by that?" she asked. Her hand twitched slightly, bouncing her bat'leth in it. "Males may be the legal head of Houses in most instances, but we all know who the real head of the House usually is."

Kyp chuckled and shuffled back slightly. "Well, I was referring to the whole interstellar part and the fact he's on the High Council. I am here after all as a semi-official ambassador from the New Republic." He suddenly locked eyes with Ferqi. "May I ask you a question concerning politics, Ferqi?" Ferqi nodded and her continued. "What do you think of the status of jeghpu'wI-the subject races of the Empire?"

Ferqi's eyes narrowed. "I know what jeghpu'wI means," she dryly remarked. She looked Kyp over. "I have found their treatment in the past to be lacking in the extreme. A Kriosian nursemaid was more a parent to me than either of the worthless scum who conceived me. To not be Klingon is to be different, not necessarily inferior." She leaned back slightly. "Why?"

The Jedi's gaze hardened. "I was a slave for eight years in the spice mines of Kessel. I don't like slavery and I don't like slavers. I had a talk with Gartul about how the Empire's treated their subjects. I'm glad it's better, but I wish more has been done."

Ferqi's expression softened. "I was on Krios as part of a conference to grant the jeghpu'wI more rights and broaden their participation in local government. I am proud of being a Klingon, but sometimes the way we've acted has been that of the lowest dregs of Gre'thor."

Maarek suddenly stood up and picked his valise up. "As much as I'd like to stay," he remarked, crossing the room in great strides, "we have a meeting with the High Council in about thirty minutes." He turned and looked at Kyp across the room and tossed him a salute. "Good luck!"

Kyp's jaw dropped. He looked over his torn and tattered clothing and his entire body slumped. "Oh, son of a kriffin' nekk!" he exclaimed. He patted his shirt down, tugging at the rents, tears and holes. "Yeah, I am so kriffed..."

Ganner looked him over. "Tie your hair up in a quick ponytail, wear a jacket and change your pants. They'll never notice a thing!"

Kyp's head slowly turned to regard his former apprentice. "Ganner, shut up!" He turned and ran to one of the rooms near the back. "I can change quickly! I can change quickly!"

Ferqi leaned to the right as she watched Kyp run off. "He's got the heart of a Klingon... but the mind of a Pakled."

Jaroul pursed her lips. "Oh, trust me Mother. His body more than makes up for his mind."

Miko spoke up from his chair. "Still waiting for that brain bleach, Ganner!" He snapped his fingers. "Come on, my mind's not getting any blanker!"

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