Chapter 7

     Klaw walked down the desolate, dusty road toward a rickety-looking shack. The smell of old Chappalan blood permeated the air around him as he neared the building. He was sure it was Laga’s blood. He had heard about the beating Laga received from his old friend and the fact that he had been hung from the roof of that old bar. He shook his head and smirked at the thought of Laga hanging there. Served him right for being caught like that. No doubt it was a message though, meaning he was getting closer. Klaw laughed under his breath. Like he was afraid. The day he admitted to being scared of Aran Thazgo or his ilk would be the day of judgment. Though mildly surprised that their path’s hadn’t crossed yet, he knew they soon would and this time it would be different. No chance of Aran ever being conscious long enough to get off a lucky shot that would destroy his hand. A sadistic smile flitted across his face at the torture Aran would be given before his death.
     His reminisces ended as he set foot on the porch of the old shack. The wooden planks, old and broken, gave way a bit and creaked loudly, no doubt giving the impression that he was here. He wondered if Laga came when he received the message to meet him here or if he ran. He would not be too surprised either way. He then heard a rustling noise inside and then an all too familiar voice.
     “Go away or I’ll shoot!”
     Klaw stopped, grinned maniacally and paused; not making a single sound.
     “I know you’re out there,” Laga continued. “I swear I’ll blast you without another warning.”
     “Is that how you treat all of Emperor Zapato’s agents, Garo Laga?” Klaw asked sardonically. “ You would do well to put your gun down.“
     “Klaw?” Laga asked as he stuck his head slowly out of the door.
     “Here’s a hint,” Klaw replied.
     With swift reflexes honed from his training, Klaw drove his fist hard into Laga’s face, breaking his nose on contact. Blood and mucus flowed freely from Laga’s nose as he hit the floor hard with a thunderous crash. As Klaw stood over him with his fist still clenched, Laga whimpered and felt the swollen mass that was his nose. Trying to regain his composure, Laga tried to stand back up but slipped on the mess of blood. With fear in his eyes, Laga began scooting back as Klaw walked slowly into the shack with a maniacal gleam in his eyes. Klaw grabbed Laga by his tunic collar and lifted him off the ground, held him for a few seconds, then threw him hard into a dilapidated chair that sat on the far side of the room.
     Laga whimpered again and looked up at Klaw in abject terror. “W-w-why are you doing this?” He asked as he trembled uncontrollably.
     Klaw looked down on him with an insane gleam in his eyes. “You are a inexcusable piece of vermin,” he told the frightened Chappalan as he hovered over him. “You let Starfleet know we have been in this area. Almost gave away where I’ve been.” He stopped for a second and glared hard into Laga’s eyes. “Or did you give it away?”
     “No I didn’t,” Laga screamed in terror as Laga continued to stare. “I swear I didn’t!”
     With another sadistic grin forming on his face, Laga pulled his gun out and placed it directly in Laga’s face. “You should die for this treachery,” Klaw told him.
     “No, please,” Laga begged with a whimper. “I wouldn’t.”
     For a long time, Klaw held the gun, still pointed right at Laga’s face. He had thought about it, ending this misbegotten failure’s life, but that would be the easy way out for him. He sighed and pulled the gun back and placed it back on his belt.
     “You are lucky I have need of you, Garo Laga,” he told him. “I want your undying loyalty or I will change my mind without hesitation.”
    Laga nodded as he tried to wipe away the mess on his face.
     “Good,” Klaw replied. “Don’t make me regret this.”
     Klaw reached into a pocket in his trousers and pulled out a wrist-com, which he tossed to Laga, who then promptly put it on. They both pushed a small button and were teleported from the old shack to a massive warship that was hovering above the planet. Klaw sent Laga to the infirmary and then headed to the bridge where he ordered a course set for Krenox.
     As the ship changed course, he walked out of the bridge and back into the corridor. He walked for a few lonesome minutes until he came across a chamber that he had prepared earlier. He entered, locked the sliding door, and sat down in a non-descript chair and began to think. He knew Emperor Zapato was fanatical about the sword and had spent most of the last twenty star-years looking for it. Krenox was now more or less a wasteland. Most of its inhabitants were enslaved or killed. He already knew of the small rebel force that existed on the planet, but the Centrattians had never been able to stop them altogether. Most of the damage they had caused was minimal, so he was sure they didn’t have the sword, or they would have used it.
     Another thing Klaw figured might be a problem was the rumored existence of the Dark Elders. It was said that they were there when the sword was created. He knew that if there were one or two of them alive, they would have to be ancient. He had always believe that they were a myth, a story that was just passed down from generation to generation. Now it seems they actually existed, according to Shongol. Klaw muttered his name under his breath. He still didn’t know what Shongol was up to and wondered if he ever would. Still, at least he was doing something useful for a change.
     Klaw checked his wrist-com and cursed in his native tongue as he slowly rose from his seat and looked out a small view-screen. With vague curiosity, he watched the stars as they passed by. He knew what he had to do first; find a Dark Elder, if they existed, and see what they knew about the sword. If he managed to possess the sword, he might hold some leverage on both Zapato and Shongol.
     The buzzer to the door went off, alerting him that someone was outside it. He turned around and faced the sliding panel.
     “Enter.”
     Laga entered the room cautiously as the sliding doors closed behind him.
     “You said you wanted to see me when I was patched up,” he said.
     Klaw gave him a look-over, noticing the bandages with great satisfaction. He then motioned for Laga to sit (which Laga quickly did) and then turned and walked back over to the view-screen. He touched a small panel next to it and a old-worn painting of a sword appeared. Laga gasped.
     “I take it you know what this is?” Klaw asked him without turning around.
     “Yes.”
     “Good,” Klaw said as he turned back to face Laga. “I’ve been given a mission to look for it. You are going to help me.”
     Laga nodded, though he was trembling with fear. “It‘s been lost for thousands of years, why does our master want it?” He asked.
     “Emperor Zapato did not send me on this mission,” Klaw replied. “He has been concerned with Admiral Ramon Romero and Starfleet. He wants a war he can’t win.”
     “That is treasonous!” Laga yelled as he stood up. “If our master…”
     Klaw’s dark red eyes pierced Laga’s causing him shrink back into his seat, with a look of terror and fear in his own eyes. Klaw shook his head in exasperation and spoke softly to Laga.
“I do not fear our master,” he said putting an emphasis on the last two words. “Especially with what I know is to be the truth.”
     Klaw turned back toward the screen and pressed on it several times. Laga noticed photos of who he knew to be Aran Lirian. He moved uncomfortably in his seat at the sight of him. Surely he wasn’t going to be there. Laga knew that was one person he did not want to face again. He kept watching and after a few more seconds, a worn map of Krenox appeared.          “This is where we are heading once we get to Krenox,” Klaw continued. “As you can see, it is a mountainous region and it is where the Dark Elders are rumored to be.”

     “The who?” Laga asked disbelievingly.
     “The Dark Elders,” Klaw answered impatiently. “They are rumored to be the guardians of the sword. It is also suggested that one of it’s creators is among them.”
     “Where did you get this information?” Laga asked skeptically.
     Klaw grinned. He knew Laga was not to be trusted. He only wished to serve those who could protect him. He would have to be watched. If it wasn’t for the fact that he needed a capable pilot, he would have done this mission on his own.
     “That,” Klaw began sardonically. “Is a need to know answer and you do not and probably will not ever need to know.” He paused the screen and didn’t speak for a few seconds, adding to Laga’s trepidation.
     “What do you know of the sword, Laga?”
     Laga let out a large gulp as he tried to clear his throat. Klaw sadistically reveled in the coward’s fear. The immense satisfaction he received from it was invigorating.
     “J-just w-what I was t-told as a young boy,” Laga finally replied as he stammered. “That the sword defeated it’s enemies and soon disappeared after that. I had never heard of the Dark Elders. Most of us thought it as a legend with no real truth to the story. Does it really exist?”
     “Apparently,” Klaw replied. “Our master (The words were heavily emphasized again.) must never know of this, whether we fail or succeed.”
     Laga nodded but he was still curious. “Who is your source? Why us?”
     “I told you, it is none of your concern!” Klaw yelled in an agitated voice. “If you ever ask again.” He let the threat alone finish the sentence.
    He then turned off the screen and then gave Laga a hard, scowling look. He made sure his eyes gave off a threatening vibe as to make sure Laga never asked that question again. After a few seconds he proceeded to leave the chamber, leaving Laga to tremble alone.