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Romulan Planetary Protectorate of Viochin: Romulan Frontier

Two hundred Viochinians had crammed into a dilapidated warehouse on the edge of the village. Most were already cheering in anticipation of the action to come. An older Viochinian man stroked his long beard and walked over to the corner where Valaa was standing.

"Ke krawp sa me haw loap!" he shouted with a bit of annoyance.

"Dar mang che hak mi!" Valaa said returning his frustration with more of her own. The old man scoffed and took another long drag on the claw pipe hanging from his yellowed needle-like teeth.

"What's the problem?" Seebo said as he wrapped Rellas' hands with old strips of burlap.

"The old man is just wondering what the hold –up is," Valaa said dismissively. "Looks like the crowd is getting restless."

"And what did you tell him?" Esrak said as his eyes nervously looked up to the rows of Viochinians eagerly holding out their paper betting slips.

"Something not appropriate for polite conversation," Valaa muttered.

"Are you sure we should do this?" Seebo asked Rellas with a deep breath. "It seems a little beneath our dignity, Boss. We're supposed to be warriors."

"Is eating beneath our dignity too?" Valaa said sarcastically. "You know the funds have dried up. That Reman asshole has got us hiding on this planet like Tormallan cockroaches under a rock."

"But pit-fighting!?" Seebo said bitterly. "I thought we weren't slaves anymore. Why are we acting like them?"

"We're not slaves," Rellas said checking the tightness of his hand-wraps to his satisfaction. "But Valaa's right. We can't just keep scraping by. We need hard currency to continue our fight. The wind does not respect a fool, but it respects a broke fool even less."

"Then I hope the money is as good as Valaa claims it will be."

"Oh, trust me," the Orion said looking at the giant wad of cash piled on the table behind the old referee. "The money is good."

"My Lord," Esrak begged Rellas. "Maybe we should have one of our other soldiers do this. You are the leader of our movement…"

"Who is also a Klingon warrior and a former gladiator," Rellas interjected as he stretched the muscles in his back and rolled his shoulders a few times. "This isn't my first time in a ring. At least this time, I get paid."

"But your opponent," Esrak said even more desperately. "Just look at him!"

They all looked across the wooden floor to the massive Carmallian growling in their direction. Several long scars covered his furry torso and his snout was so mangled they wondered how he could still eat.

"The opponent doesn't matter, Esrak. As long as the battle is worthy," Rellas said confidently.

"May the ancestors bring you victory," the Sarcassan chirped as he resigned himself to his leader's stubborn decision.

"I am ready," Rellas said with one final breath. He tensed the blue flesh of his bare chest and took three steps onto the floor. The crowd roared their approval.

"Da nang chi how mei. Kang cha ri gong ma," Valaa said to the old referee. His long face contorted into a grin as he beckoned both Rellas and the Carmallian forward. Rellas' hairy opponent raised his long arms toward the ceiling and bellowed out a roar. The crowd started chanting his name over and over, confident that he would win another easy victory over the Gralluscan newcomer:

"Basab! Basab! Basab!"

"Remember, Boss," Valaa called out to Rellas one final time. "There's no extra points for creativity. It's submission, knock-out, or…" she paused.

"Or what?" Seebo said sharply.

"Or death…" Rellas answered for her as he continued to step forward.

"gods…" Seebo spit out under his breath.

Rellas crouched down onto the balls of his feet and raised his fists to the ready. His stoic expression betrayed nothing as Basab took position two meters away. The Carmallian had so little respect for Rellas, he didn't even bothering getting into a fighting position.

The old referee stepped between them and raised up one of his long fingered hands.

"Bao di?" he asked turning to Rellas. The Gralluscan nodded. Then, the referee turned to Basab. "Bao di?" The creature growled again. "SANG TAP!" The referee shouted throwing down his hand and jumping out of the way.

Basab charged straight at Rellas snapping his jaws. Rellas grabbed the neck and torso of his opponent. He fought with all his strength as the Carmallian literally tried to rip his throat out with his fangs. The crowd went wild again. Rellas dug his feet in to the sand covered floor boards just trying to stay upright. Basab immediately drove his knees into Rellas' side causing the Gralluscan to wince in pain. The blows broke his concentration long enough for Basab to lift Rellas up and heave him to the ground.

"My Lord!" Seebo shouted. He was about to leap into the fray to help, but Valaa grabbed him and pulled him back.

"Are you crazy?" Valaa shouted above the cheers of the spectators. They would rip us all apart if we interfered."

"But he'll die if we do nothing!" Seebo countered.

"He's been fighting a lot longer than you have!" Valaa said. "He can take care of himself."

Rellas and Basab rolled over and over again across the floor. The Carmallian tried several times to get his full weight on top of Rellas. The old gladiator was able to keep from getting pinned, but with each roll, Basab's claws dug into his flesh and drew blood. It drove the crowd deeper into frenzy.

Finally, Basab rolled too hard and drove himself off-balance. Rellas was able to push his feet into the floor and drive his hips skyward. He bucked the Carmallian off of him like an angry Rukullian bronco. Basab flew two meters across the floor and crashed to the boards with a loud thud. Rellas flew forward and jumped onto his back. He locked one arm around Basab's stocky neck. As Rellas tightened his grip, he started using his free hand as a bludgeon against the creature's head in an attempt to knock the Carmallian senseless. Rellas only landed two blows before a stout elbow flew backward and landed straight in the center of his face. The impact knocked him backward. Both fighters flailed around in a daze for a few moments before climbing back onto their feet.

The crowd began chanting Basab's name again. They wanted their money.

Rellas managed to get his fists back in front of him. He spit out a mouthful of blood that had dripped down the back of his throat from his shattered sinuses. Basab was angry now. He pointed a claw directly at Rellas' chest.

"YOU...NECK…BREAK…I…NOW!" he shouted in pigeon Romulan.

Rellas reared back his head and actually laughed. Valaa, Seebo, and Esrak looked on disbelief from the sidelines at their leader's resilience.

"Go for it," Rellas said with a grin. "En'chA!"

Basab howled with rage and leapt forward blindly. This time, Rellas was ready. He side-stepped, held out his leg, and tripped Basab with his own momentum. The Carmallian tumbled forward onto the ground and slammed his face into the floorboards. Rellas was instantly on him again. Learning from his past mistake, he held his opponent's torso close to his before putting his stout spear-throwing arm back around Basab's neck. The Carmallian was stronger, but also heavier. He couldn't lift himself out of Rellas' grip and quickly began lapsing into unconsciousness.

"Submit!" Rellas commanded. "Tap out!"

"NO!" Basab fought to get out. "WHEN…I…WAKE…" he said as he started blacking out. "I..KILL…YOU…AND…ALL…OTHER…SLAVES!"

"We are no one's slaves!" Rellas shouted suddenly twisting his hips with all his might. Basab's neck snapped with a loud a crack and he fell limp to the ground.

The crowd gasped and fell silent.

"Tu mak bae tran," the referee said surprised. He walked over, helped Rellas to his feet, and lifted his hand into the air. The crowd began voicing their displeasure with boos and taunts. Valaa instantly ran over to the table with an empty duffel bag and started shoveling the cash in with both hands. Then, she ran over and grabbed Rellas.

"Sir, we need to go before it gets even uglier," she whispered. Rellas dusted himself off and walked out proudly as the booing increased. Soon, empty bottles started flying through the air. The referee started angrily yelling at the patrons as Valaa led her leader, Seebo, and Esrak towards a side exit.

"We can't keep doing this!" Seebo said angrily.

"You're right about that," Valaa said raising her brows. "Also, I wouldn't go showing your faces for a few days out in the village. They are NOT happy right now."

"It doesn't matter," Rellas said wiping beads of sweat from his brow. "We have enough money now for a few more weeks."

"A few weeks?" Esrak said looking back and forth as they exited the warehouse into the cool night air. "Shinzon is still out there and we can't do anything. We have to find a way to get off Viochin."

"WE WILL!" Rellas shouted loud enough to silence the others. "Kahless will guide us back towards the path of victory."

"Well, I hope he does it soon…" Valaa said. "I'm starting to run out of planets to hide us on."

Her words cut straight to Rellas' heart. He had fought so hard to bring down the Romulan Empire. His fight had freed many and even earned him the title of Klingon Warrior. However, now it seemed like after years of struggle and countless lives lost, he was right back to where he was at the ludus on Dacen before the arrival of the Son of Tigranian.

As the group of rebels quickly made their way back to their hiding place, Rellas looked up at the heavens and silently said a prayer to himself:

"Unforgettable, I have not lost my faith in your purpose. I implore you, speak to us. Send us word on how to fight our way back to the path of justice. I refuse to believe that after everything, we are destined to live the rest of our lives in shame and defeat while cowering in a cellar. Please, give us a sign…"

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