"There is no need for that," Kumerian responded, "Your squadron cannot defeat mine. I have more ships, and yours will all be destroyed. Your entire nation cannot resist what is coming. The entire Northern, Northern Reserve, and Home Fleets are here. Your intelligence network has told you this. The Empire cannot allow your actions to stand. You have already lost this war. Stand down and wait for your political leaders to negotiate. You do not have to die, but if you keep coming, you will die, as will hundreds of your crewmen. Your survivors will live out their lives in a prison colony and will envy those who fell in combat. You cannot win, but you do not have to surrender. Just leave. Go home. Stay out of the way until the politicians settle this."
        "Would you ... in my situation?" the reply came back.
        "Yes," Kumerian said without hesitation. "I would know I could not win. I would know how this would end. I would know that I did not have to die, nor did any of my crew. Your target is not of any importance. Even if you destroy it, other stations will carry on its task. What are you fighting for?"
        "History," came the reply. "Not this battle, not this war. The next one. My grandsons will know that when this war was over, the Klingon Empire had not gone unscathed. They will win their war, because I did not surrender during my war. Kill me. Destroy my ships. I know you must. But history will record what I accomplish here. May the stars record that both sides fought for what they believed in." The communication link broke.
        "Fools!" Kumerian snarled. "If the Empire thinks any of that nonsense would be believed, there won't be a Frax ship left and no Frax will leave his planet for a generation."
        "Do we have to kill them?" Karisma asked. "Is there any other way?"
        "No," Kumerian responded, "there is not."
        "Frax squadron is at 600 thousand," the science office responded.
        "Give me all ships," Kumerian said. Seconds later, the channel was open. "This is Kumerian. The enemy is fighting for glory, for honor, not for victory. Expect the radical, the unexpected, the illogical, even the ridiculous. They want to destroy the station, and they probably hope to pick off one of our frigates. Tighten the formation. Move the frigates to the starboard flank, and I will engage the Frax from the portside. All ships fire on the lead cruiser. When it is out of action, we will switch fire to the destroyer, then to the frigates. We cannot lose the station, or a single ship. Mass drone attack on the cruiser on my mark. All ships overload weapons and wait for my command."

        "This one is the captain," the Marine lieutenant said, gesturing toward the blue body in what was apparently the command chair. What had once been a uniform was charred and torn. "He is still alive. My medic had stopped the bleeding, but has done nothing for the pain. He is conscious."
        "You fought well," Kumerian said to the Frax captain.
        "Don't patronize me," the Frax captain snapped back.
        "The station was damaged, but not destroyed," Kumerian told him. "One of my frigates is crippled, and over a hundred of my crewmen have died. Two of your ships were destroyed, and the other two captured. Was it worth it?"
        The Frax captain glared without answering.
        "May I?" Karisma asked.
        "You know the Empire will never broadcast such an interview," Kumerian said.
        "Intelligence will analyze it," the reporter said, "and they will save it, deep in the dark recesses of a well-guarded computer somewhere on a remote planet. Perhaps, someday, what he says will become part of a history book."
       Kumerian shrugged.
        "Captain, if that is your proper rank," Karisma began. "I am not a military person. I am a journalist, embedded with the Klingon fleet. I do not know enough about tactics to tell how well you fought, so I cannot patronize you. Will you talk to me?"
        "My rank is commodore," the man said. "I am captain of the Minotaur and commander of the Fourteenth Squadron."
        "What is your name?" she asked.
        "Rya Nopel," he responded.
        "Can you tell me about yourself?" she asked. "I have a university degree, but never realized that military officers also have university degrees. Do you have such a degree?"
        "I graduated from the Deep Space Fleet Academy on Klinshai. I served two years on board a Klingon cruiser as an engineering warrant officer. I have been a naval officer in the Frax fleet for the last fourteen years, by your calendar. Seventeen years, by my own."
        "Are you married?" she asked. "You said you had children, did you not?"
        "Yes, I am married, and I have three children."
        "I could try to get a message to your wife," Karisma said. "I cannot promise anything."
        "There is nothing I need to tell her that she does not already know."
        "Why did you do this?" she asked.
        "I did it because I was following the orders of the admiralty," he answered. "It was their plan, and I believed in their plan. We will not win this war. We will win the next one."
        "Do you have any questions?" she asked.
        "What is the status of my crew?" he asked.
        Karisma looked at Kumerian, who waved a dismissive gesture to a Dunkar officer standing on the bridge.
         "Most of the crew of this ship are dead," the Dunkar reponded, "but 73 are alive, of which 36 are injured, three of them are critical. The others should survive." The Dunkar looked at Kumerian, who nodded. "The critical cases are in Destruction's medical bay, undergoing surgery. We won't know their fate for some time yet."
        "And the crew of Unicorn?" the Frax captain asked.
        "Fifty-three survive," the Dunkar answered, "one critical, now in surgery on Destruction. Twenty-six are injured to one degree or another." He looked at Kumerian again, and the Klingon captain nodded once more.
        "We have rescued eleven who escaped from the other two ships," the Dunkar added, "that is all."
        "Prison for all of us, then?" Captain Rya Nopel asked.
        "For all of you," Kumerian answered. "You cannot be tried for treason and have committed no war crimes. There is no reason for you to die, not now."
        "Oh, but there is," Captain Rya Nopel said, suddenly moving faster than anyone thought he could have, given his condition. He tapped open a hidden compartment on the side of his chair, and whipped out a pistol. He had time for only one shot, and he meant to take the Klingon commander down before he died.
        Everything was a blur. An ESS sergeant fired a blast into the captain with a phaser set on stun. Kumerian had grabbed for his own sidearm, convinced that he could draw and fire before the Frax captain did, but was blocked when a body slammed into him with surprising force. Karisma had seen the pistol in the Frax captain's hand and had reacted without thinking, diving in front of Kumerian, taking the force of his blast.
        "Don't kill him," she begged with her dying breath. "Show him that peace can work for both of you."
        "Don't kill him!" Kumerian snarled, allowing Karisma's  now lifeless body to slide to the floor. Taking two steps forward, his hand closed around the Frax captain's throat. "You will pay for that," he snarled, his face only a few centimeters from the Frax captain's. "That was not an act of war, but an act of murder, and you will die for it, but you will not die quickly."
        Straightening up, he looked for a moment at the lifeless body of the woman he had made love to a few hours earlier.
        "How many of the Frax crew shall be executed for this crime?" the ESS sergeant asked.
        "Twenty-six," Kumerian said, "One for every year of her life, and all of them before his eyes. Cut their throats."
        Knives were drawn.