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Short StoryEdit

The dueling holograms were programmed to kill.

There were four of them, top-of-the-line Duelist Elites from Quan Holographics, purchased two weeks prior from a Ferengi merchant. Satisfaction guaranteed.

All were armed in different ways: one with a steel long sword, one with a warhammer, the third with a pair of mek'leths, and the last with a bat'leth. All four made to look like his father, as every one of his dueling programs were. They had been meticulously programmed with the skills of a dozen martial arts masters, and their reflexes were calibrated just a hair faster then klingon optimum. They had come factory equipped with behavioral inhibitors that prevented them from delivering a deathblow once their opponent had been beaten, but these inhibitors had been disabled by their new owner. A mistake against one would be fatal.

Vorath, Son of Braxus did not make mistakes.

The Starfleet Officer stood in the center of the training arena as the four holograms circled him. His breathing was calm, his heartbeat even and slow. He was aware of his body's reactions to danger, aware and in control. Control of oneself was the key to victory.

Two of the holograms (Longsword and Mek'leth. He silently named them) were within his field of vision. The other two, Bat'leth and Warhammer, were behind him. It did not matter, his klingon senses (hearing and smell) could detect their movement as plainly as if he had eyes in the back of his head.

Vorath raised his own weapon, his newly acquired Nanopulse Edged Bat'leth, and activated the power control. A blue blade of pure energy came to life, hissing and crackling as he performed a flourish. All Klingon warriors could wield a normal bat'leth, but only a master fighter could wield the energy blade of the Nanopulse effectively.

Longsword lunged at full speed, it's holographic knee joint bent almost to the ground. The razor sharp point of it's blade sped toward Vorath's heart, almost too fast to see.

Battlelust threatened to overtake Vorath, but his years of training took over, guiding his reactions. Time seemed to slow, to stretch.

It would have been easy to chop the blade itself in half, but there was no challenge in that. Vorath spun towards the point of the sword, twisted around the outside, and snapped his hands horizontally at chest level. The left side of his nanopulse bat'leth sheared through the hologram's sword arm. Both arm and weapon fell to the floor.

Vorath dropped to his knee as, from directly behind him, Warhammer's full swing whistled over his head, barely missing him. Without looking, guided by his finely tuned instincts, he thrust backwards with the right side of his blade, then forward with the left -one, two!- skewering both Warhammer and Longsword in their abdominal regions. Blood spewed from simulated wounds in a pinkish oily mist.

Using the momentum of the forward thrust, Vorath dived over the collapsing hologram before him, flowing smoothly into a shoulder roll. He came up twirling his bat'leth overhead, then stepped down solidly into the mok'bara wide stance called Qam'HoS. Even as he did the movement, part of him was monitoring his body's state. His breathing was slow and even, his pulse elevated by no more then two or three beats per minute from its resting rate.

Two down, two to go.

Bat'leth charged, its weapon whirling over its head like a propeller. It's leftside blade lashed towards him. Vorath spun on his right foot and shot his left leg out in a powerful side kick, slamming his boot into the hologram's exposed chest, stopping it cold. He dropped into a squat, spun his blade like a scythe, and sickled the hologram cleanly at the knees. Lower legs gone, it collapsed as Vorath again twisted himself and his weapon, flowing into the form known as SuvwI'Hu. He brought the rightside of his blade up between Bat'leth's holographic thighs, hard, using his leg muscles to augment the strike as he pushed up from the squat to a standing position.

The force of the blow bisected Mek'leth from it's crotch right through the top of it's head. There was a wet sound as the simulated klingon came apart in two halves. Its feet and lower legs hit the floor slightly before the upper halves landed atop them. A thick pool of blood quickly formed around the defeated hologram.

The magnificent smell of blood filled Vorath's lungs. What was, seconds ago, a functioning simulation of his father was now a barely recognizable pile of holographic flesh.

Three down, one to go.

Mek'leth moved to Vorath's left, whirling its razor sharp blades in defensive movements -high, low, left, right, a blinding pattern of edged death waiting to blind the unwary and cut him down.

Vorath allowed himself a twitch of his lips. He pressed the Nanopulse's controls. The humming died as the energy beams blinked out. He bent, keeping his eyes on the hologram as he put the weapon on the floor and shoved it away with his boot.

He settled himself into a low defensive stance, angled towards the hologram at forty five degrees, left foot forward. He watched as the hologram inched forward, flourishing it's dual blades in an intricate crisscross pattern. A hologram like this knew no fear, but Vorath knew that to put his weapon down and face a live opponent barehanded would certainly terrify anyone smarter then a dueling hologram. Fear was as potent a weapon as a bat'leth or a phaser.

Klingon battle lust raged inside him, sought to blind him with fury, but he held it at bay. He held one open hand high, by his ear, the other by his his hip, then reversed the positions, watching. Waiting.

Mek'leth edged forward another half step, crossing and recrossing the blades infront of him, looking for an opening.

Vorath gave the hologram what it was looking for. He moved his left arm wide, away from his body, exposing his side to a thrust or a cut.

Mek'leth saw the opening and moved in, fast, very fast, snapping one of the blades out to cut while bringing the other blade over for backup.

Vorath dropped, hooked his left foot around the back of the hologram's ankle, and pulled as he kicked hard at the holograms thigh with the other foot.

The hologram fell backwards, unable to maintain its balance, and hit the floor hard. Vorath sprang up, did a front flip, and came down with both boot heels driving into the simulation's head. The holographic skull collapsed inward and gave a satisfying crunch.

Vorath dived again, rolled up in a half twist into a battle stance, ready to spring in any direction.

But there was no need, these four were done. Vorath exhaled, relaxed his stance, and nodded. His heart rate had accelerated perhaps five beats above normal at most. There was the faintest sheen of perspiration on his forehead. Perhaps sixty seconds had passed from start to finish. Vorath frowned slightly. Not his personal best, by any means. It was one thing to face and defeat holograms. Live Klingon warriors were a different matter.

He would have to do better.

He picked up his weapon and a towel, then dried his face. He looked around the room at the carnage he had created, paused, then spoke for the first time in minutes. "Computer. End program." he said calmly.

The simulated bodies disappeared first, then the training room altogether, revealing the familiar grid walls of the Independence's Holodeck. Satisfied with the workout, he left the room to begin his shift.

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