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Irene Mincine


The triple suns of Alpha Centauri were out over the capital. The great expanse of Decker Pack was full of people celebrating the annual Klingon Cultural Festival. There was everything you would expect at an event like that: food, arts and crafts, even 24th century carnival games. People came from all over the region to visit the festival. There weren’t just humans and Klingons, but people of many Federation races were in attendance. Proxima 4 was one of the oldest colonies of the Federation, after all.

In the center of the park stood the the Grand Stage. It was a great circular platform with hundreds of seats surrounding it. People were streaming toward it from all directions as an announcement sounded: “The 43rd annual Proxima 4 Bat’leth Tournament Women’s Semi-Final is about to begin at the Grand Stage. Please make your way there.”

The preparation area was a small permanent pavilion across from the Grand Stage. Inside was Irene Mincine, wearing a white training robe, warming up with a leather-wrapped and old-looking bat’leth. Her exercises looked strenuous, but Irene looked up to the challenge. She was very athletic, and also pretty bruised up from the previous days’ battles.

“This is how you celebrate your high school graduation, Irene? A bat’leth tournament?” said a young human man standing in the doorway to the warm-up room.

Irene planted the edge of the bat’leth on the floor and leaned on it, panting. “Jolath, what do they say about women with blades?”

Jolath looked at her with an innocent look on his face. “I just thought I’d stop by and wish my favorite classmate luck before the last day of the tournament, that’s all.”

She laughed, picking up a water bottle from the floor and taking a sip. “That’s a new one. Days 1 and 2 weren’t too bad. But what happened to, ‘Irene, these tournaments are dangerous,’ or ‘Irene, why do you even own a bat’leth?’”

He leaned on the doorway, self-satisfied. “Well, they are dangerous. And I still don’t know why you own one of those things. Aren’t you going off to college next month? What are you going to do, cut your professor’s head off when they give you a C?”

“I told you, it’s an heirloom from my grandmother, the Klingon commander I told you about,” Irene replied. “My mom didn’t want anything to do with it. Hell, she doesn’t even know I’m here. I think she’s on Earth for some… diplomat… thing. She thinks I use it for calisthenics.”

“Why do they use real weapons, though?” Jolath sounded pretty concerned.

Irene spoke with an air of reverence. “To make sure that both warriors try their best, and to remember that death can come at any time.” She then shrugged, like she didn’t quite understand it either. “Martial sports were conducted this way on Earth for a couple thousand years, too. It’s not like this is unique to my people.” She picked up the bat’leth once more. “Just think of it as Klingon fencing.”

The PA clicked on. “Competitor Irene Mincine to the Grand Stage in ten minutes.”

Irene looked up at the ceiling. “Time for you to go. Go, go, go, I need to change!”

Jolath wished Irene well and left. The door closed behind him.

* * *

Irene Mincine walked out to the Grand Stage. She was wearing the traditional Klingon warrior’s uniform, though she didn’t look too comfortable in it. It never fit quite right on her hybrid body. Her wavy black hair was worn down, in the Klingon style, rather than her usual pony tail. Combined with her ridges, her uniform, and her scowl, she looked pretty intimidating.

Her opponent walked out opposite her. She was a large, powerful Klingon woman who looked a bit older than her. Irene was worried about what she’d heard about her - K’last was the favorite to win. Not just that, but she’d heard from her defeated opponents about the dirty tricks she liked to use. Illegal moves, subtle manipulations, things that should be dishonorable. Irene, though, wasn’t a full Klingon. She was used to dishonorable actions by other Klingons, even if they wouldn’t admit it.

The announcer began his spiel. “To the left… in her first competition… Irene, daughter of P’Lor, of the House of Morvath!” There was some cheering, but not from the Klingons in the crowd… Irene figured that would happen. The two Klingon competitors she had bested weren’t exactly thrilled about getting beaten by a half-breed and that presumably spread to the crowd, as well.

“To the right… in her eighth competition… K’last, daughter of Rassa, of the House of Delat!” The cheering was much louder for her than for Irene.

With a gong,the fight began. The two clashed immediately. Irene was younger and faster, with K’last clearly the more powerful and experienced of them. Still, Irene was able to hold her off with K’last getting angrier and angrier as it went on.After five exciting minutes, their bat’leths crashed together and the two were locked in a battle of strength.

“I won’t let you beat me, Federation p’tak!” K’last spat out at Irene. “You wear our garb, but under it is the uniform and spirit of a child!”

“I don’t need to be fully Klingon to kick your ass!” she responded, but she was slowly losing the test of strength. That wasn’t enough for K’last. She slid the blade up, hooking Irene’s grip.

The blade slipped. Irene realized she’d been a victim of one of the most illegal moves in the sport!

K’last shoved Irene’s blade away. The bat’leth clattered to the ground, a victory for K’last. In the process, she “accidentally” sunk one of the edges into Irene’s belly. “P’tak.”

Irene gasped, feeling the bat’leth tear through her. She didn’t have the energy to cry out. She fell where she stood, collapsing to her knees, then to the floor while blood poured from the wound, gathering around her in a sea of red.

“Get the fight doctor! There’s been a terrible accident,” the judge yelled out. Immediately, human and Klingon medical teams rushed in. K’last stood and watched her handiwork, satisfied.

Irene looked up at the orange Centauri sky. She felt herself rising up, the voices of the doctors becoming quiet and distant. “She’s losing a lot of blood. Check the spleen for damage. Which one? Dammit, Klingons have two of them, don’t they…”

Her vision faded to white. The last thing she remembered seeing was K’last’s -eating grin.

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