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like warriors from the ancient sagas

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Bilbo Baggins was sitting on what little stoop his quarters had, drinking a cup of tarkalean tea, when he glanced up just far enough from his padd to see a tall figure looming over him. “Good morning, sir.”

“What do you mean?” the figure said. “Do you wish me a good morning, or mean that it is a good morning whether I want it or not; or that you feel good this morning; or that it is a morning to be good on?”

“All of them at once, I suppose,” Bilbo said, beginning to feel a sinking sense of defeat as he realized this visitor was going to keep him from reading the news. “However sir, I can’t seem to read your thoughts, so if you want to know something I’m afraid you’re going to have to use your words and be marginally less cryptic.”

The man seemed to grin, or he did from the tone of his voice, “Your urgency is appreciated but unnecessary, but if you must know, I am looking for someone to share in an adventure that I am arranging, and it’s very difficult to find anyone.”

“I would think so in these parts. We’re just a bunch of business owners and families out here--nobody has any time for anything like an adventure. Nasty, disturbing, uncomfortable things that make you late for dinner. No, nobody in these parts is looking for anything like that.” Deciding to keep on pretending to ignore his visitor, Bilbo went back to focusing on his padd, still feeling slightly unsettled that he couldn’t read the man’s thoughts, or even sense any of his emotions. He must know enough about telepaths to be shielding, and have some telepathic sensitivity himself, Bilbo thought. But it seemed as though the man could sense that he was bothering Bilbo, and was staying anyways. Bilbo still didn’t glance up, but said, “Maybe you should try and grab one of those Starfleet kids, they always seem to be getting into adventures if the holos are to be believed.”

The man remained silent.

“Good morning?” Bilbo repeated, growing more uncomfortable by the minute.

“You sure do like that phrase, don’t you? Are you trying to get me to leave?”

Bilbo finally accepted his defeat, and plastered on a fairly fake looking smile, looking up at the man. “Not at all! Although I don’t believe I’ve gotten your name?”

“Of course not. I haven’t offered it, although I do know your name, Mr. Bilbo Baggins, son of the fourth house of Betazed. And you know my name, or you did once. In these parts I’m known as Gandalf. To think that I was just good-morninged by Belladonna Took’s son, like I was some kind of Ferengi going door to door selling gold pressed latinum bonds.” At the end of this statement, he let out a loud “hmmph” and leaned against the opposite side of the hallway, crossing his arms.

Gandalf? As in the Gandalf who used to come bringing fabulous gifts and stories from as far away as Regulus? Who used to program the most incredible holo programs with the most beautiful places in the galaxy? It can’t be!” Bilbo stood up to his full height, which was still quite a bit shorter than Gandalf even with the other man slouching. “You were the one who’d encouraged a bunch of the kids around here to join Starfleet and the Diplomacy Corps and really made things inter-I mean, chaotic around here. I also don’t remember not being able to read your thoughts. But more recently, the last I heard you were a Flag Officer, I’d had no idea you were doing anything differently.”

“Technically, I’m still affiliated with Starfleet, although in a slightly different role. However, I’m glad you still have fond memories of my holography, that’s hopeful. And I’m here to ask a favor of your mother.”

Bilbo’s stomach sank. “Mr.-Admiral-Officer Gandalf, sir, surely you’re mistaken. My mother’s been dead for over 15 years.”

Gandalf sighed and placed a hand on Bilbo’s shoulder. “I know, and I’m beyond sorry for your loss. But the point remains that your mother owed me a favor when she died, and as the heir of her house the responsibility to see that debt paid falls to you, my lad.”

“Fair enough,” Bilbo said, feeling a migraine coming on and beginning to want the conversation to just be over, regardless of the output. “What do I owe you?”

“I need to host a meeting at your home tonight, with a few of my friends.”

“Sure. Fine. Whatever. Do you need me to make dinner?”

Gandalf waved him off. “Feel free to just replicate something. They’re a sophisticated bunch, but they’ve been in a strange set of circumstances. Good morning, Mr. Baggins. I’ll see you later this evening.”

And with that, Gandalf strode off, leaving Bilbo with nothing but a slowly rising sense of panic and a mug of already gone cold tarkalean tea.

Miraculously, Bilbo had managed to put the conversation mostly out of his mind by that evening. He’d gone about his normal day: he’d gone down to the arboretum on the promenade and visited with one of the Gamgee’s, discussing his current botany project (attempting to hybridize Vulcan orchids and a flowering bush from Alpha Centauri), and then had his biweekly and always painful lunch with his rude cousin, Lobelia. By the time he was settling back down in his quarters, a replicated pasta dinner in hand, to watch a holoprogram, his meeting with Gandalf was completely forgotten. Until, there came a buzz at the door. Bilbo shouted, “Give me a sec!” and stopped at the replicator to replicate another dinner before rushing and opening the door, at which point he promptly froze.

It wasn’t Gandalf at all. Instead, looming in the doorway was the biggest Klingon Bilbo had ever seen--not that he’d seen any, mind you, outside of holos and news reports--wearing a dark green cloak tied with a golden belt and a massive blade strapped to his back. He strode inside, managing not to touch Bilbo but still making him feel as though he’d been shoved out of the way, and took off his cloak and dropped it on the counter, revealing muscles that were massive even on his already huge frame.

Then he turned back to Bilbo, slapped him on the shoulder hard, and said, “Dwalin, son of Fundin, of the house of Durin, at your service.”

Bilbo cleared his throat. “Bilbo Baggins, at yours. I assume you’re here for Gandalf’s meeting?”

The Klingon--Dwalin--grunted. “He is called Tharkûn amongst my people.”

Bilbo swallowed again, trying to quell the sense of foreboding that he could feel rapidly growing. “Of course, of course. Please, follow me, I’ll grab your dinner.”

Bilbo had rushed to grab his guest’s meal from the replicator--a pointless move, as Dwalin had already began eating Bilbo’s--and was going to sit back down when there was another buzz at the door. Bilbo stood up, and began going back to the replicator. Surely it was Gandalf this time. “Computer, open the door.”

But once again it was not. Another Klingon strode in. This one was a little older, his long hair and beard gone white, and not quite as big as the first. He let out a large laugh as he set his bag beside Dwalin’s cloak. “I see my fellows have already begun to arrive!” He crossed the kitchen to where Bilbo stood and shook his hand firmly. “Balin, son of Fundin, of the house of Durin, at your service.”

“Uh, thanks,” Bilbo said, one arm still trapped in the firm grasp of this new Klingon’s handshake. “I’m replicating dinner, but would you like anything specific to drink--tea, soda, water?”

“If you have any bloodwine or saurian brandy, really anything with liquor, that’d suit me better,” Balin said, grinning and showing a fair amount of teeth. “Dinner smells delicious though--it may be no gagh , but a pot roast is always good, even if it does come out of a protein resequencer.”

“Good, good.” Bilbo’s hand had finally been released, and he placed a hand on the Klingon’s shoulder, which was about the same height as his head, in an attempt to steer him into the living room. “Here’s dinner, will Andorian ale do?”

However, Balin ignored his question in favor of rushing forward and throwing his arms around Dwalin, who’d stood up to greet him. “Brother! Truly, the blessing of Kahless is upon this journey if you and I are fighting side by side again.”

Deciding to dodge the family reunion, Bilbo had fled back to the kitchen to fetch three glasses of Andorian ale--he had a feeling he was going to need it by the end of the night. The door buzzed again. Bilbo let out a loud groan, which he was grateful the Klingon’s did not hear as they were too busy recounting stories of their most recent battles, and darted back through the kitchen. “Please in the name of the four deities let this be Gandalf,” he thought, buzzing open the door again.

However, his luck had not returned, and this time not one but two Klingons stepped into Bilbo’s home. These two looked like the Klingons that you would see in a holo: the young, handsome warriors that began populating romance novel covers almost immediately after the Khitomer accords. They were both tall and broad, although not quite as broad as Dwalin, with dark tunics and silver armored vests over them. They also both wore a black sash, with a bunch of pins on them--perhaps showing their military achievements. And of course, on their backs were two more blades. One of them was tanned with golden hair, while the other was fairer but with the more average dark hair. The two grinned at each other and then turned, completely synchronized, to Bilbo.

“Fíli,” the blonde one began.

“--and Kíli ,” said the one with the dark hair in continuation.

“Sons of Dis, of the house of Durin, at your service,” they finished together, bowing.

“At yours and your family’s,” Bilbo stuttered.

“You must be Mr. Boggins,” Kíli said, throwing a massive arm over Bilbo’s shoulder and causing his knees to buckle. “Tharkûn hadn’t mentioned that you were Betazoid.”

“Oh! Of course not,” Bilbo croaked out. “But yes, I am. Son of the fourth house, although that doesn’t mean much since I’m a son.”

“Tell me, are your people’s women as sensual and beautiful as I’ve heard?” Fíli said, jokingly wiggling his eyebrows and making his brother laugh loudly.

“I wouldn’t know,” Bilbo remarked dryly. “They’re just like all women, I suppose. Please, I’ll replicate you two some dinner while you go sit down with--”

“Dwalin and Balin,” Fíli finished, grabbing the bottle of Andorian ale as they went through the kitchen.

Bilbo cleared his throat and they turned back to him in exact unison. “Could you two please also leave your swords out here, and tell your friend Mr. Dwalin to do the same?”

Kíli’s eyebrows knitted together. “You would ask us to be unarmed in your home?” Apparently Bilbo’s face had looked especially distressed, because he immediately started laughing. “Yes, Mr. Boggins, we can do that. You don’t seem too dangerous, but it’s always the quiet ones.”

Kíli had gone off with his and his brother’s swords, and Fíli grabbed Bilbo’s shoulder again, although slightly more gently. “He means no offense. And thanks again for hosting us tonight, Tharkûn probably didn’t tell you that Klingon parties can get more than a little out of hand.”

“Party?!” Bilbo had cried, but the brothers had already moved into the living room and sat down beside their companions. The door buzzed again, seeming to grow harsher every time. “How many more of you are there?”

“At the door right now it should be four,” Kíli said, taking Dwalin’s bat’leth and twirling it around as he carried it back to the counter with the rest of their belongings. “They were a few spots behind us to get a docking permit for their shuttles."

Bilbo ducked into his  kitchen, leaned up against the kitchen counter, splashed some water on his face, and took a deep, sobering breath. “At least my guests are having fun,” he murmured, allowing their joyful mood to wash over him.

The door buzzed again--they must have gotten tired of waiting--and Bilbo sprinted the last few feet and opened it. It turned out to be five, not four, and they all swept past him with bows, handshakes, and a few firm pats on the shoulder. These five, were Dori, Nori, and Ori, sons of Drori, house of Mubok, who all had very ornately done beards, and Óin and Glóin, sons of Gróin, house of Durin. They all demanded drinks, but the four Klingons already there had finished off the Andorian ale, forcing Bilbo to break out the rest of his limited liquor collection: three bottles of springwine and a bottle of kanar from planets so far out of Federation space he couldn’t name them, a twelve pack of Miller Light, a human drink the Gamgees had turned him on to, and something unidentifiable but very green.

They were quickly burning through the remaining alcohol in toasts to great battles, both throughout the ancient history of the Klingon Empire as well as from the far more recent Battle of Khitomer, when Glóin, distinguishable by his massive amount of red hair and equally impressive beard, pulled Bilbo to the side and pressed a credit chip into his hand. “Lad, we’re gonna need more than this if you expect us to keep a fight from breaking out.”

Bilbo took the chip with no small amount of hesitation, and asked, “You’re certain that giving them more won’t make a fight happen faster?”

Glóin shrugged. “In my experience, getting them drunker means they do less damage to each other. Now go on, and get us some of your people’s drinks while you're at it.”

Bilbo sighed, but he could sense Glóin’s earnestness and let it lie. “Please try to keep them from breaking my house.”

“I’ll do what I can,” Glóin said, placing his hand over his chest. “I swear it on my honor as a--”

“That’s quite enough, just try not to break the lamps, they’re vintage.” Bilbo waved him off. “I’ll be back in a few! Anybody have any requests?”

A few minutes later, he was back from the station’s liquor store, the Green Dragon, armed with over a dozen bottles of booze and his shopping list, when he found three more Klingons at his door.

One of them, wearing an abnormally large fuzzy hat, let out a big laugh and playfully shoved one of his companions. “Oy, look at that, Glóin must’ve gotten to him.”

“Good evening,” Bilbo said. “Can one of you three hold the bags while I get the door?”

The one who’d been shoved turned to Bilbo and took the bags, and it was then that Bilbo saw--

“Good gods, is that an axe?”

“Part of an ushaan-tor, actually,” the first one said, “but it’s only a flesh wound. One of the doctors said it’s embedded in the part of the brain that deals with language, so his universal translator doesn’t work anymore, but he’s still fairly good at communicating his demands. His name’s Bifur, and he’s my cousin, and I’m Bofur, and this other one--” He pointed to the fattest Klingon Bilbo had ever seen, who was still sitting on the floor across the hall from Bilbo’s porch. “--Is my brother Bombur.”

“You three aren’t going to tell me your house?” Bilbo asked absently, keying in his code for his door.

“Oh, we would if we were from one of the High Houses, but unlike the rest of our companions we’re strictly working class,” Bofur said, pulling a bottle from Bifur’s bag and popping it open. “Oh, this is good stuff, cheers.”

Bilbo shook his head and stepped inside before he could watch his newest Klingon friends drink straight from the bottle. “Go join everybody else on the couch, leave your bat’leths here please, and I’ll be right over after I replicate dinner.”

Bilbo had just brought over their dinners when there was another buzz at the door, and Bilbo could sense from his guests that this was the final one. They all were quiet as he opened the door, and there was one last Klingon, as well as the familiar face Bilbo had been waiting for all evening.

“Gandalf, do come in!” Bilbo said, gesturing with his arms and allowing the tall man to move in with a serene smile on his face. “I must say when you mentioned this meeting I didn’t expect it to turn into such a party or have quite so many people, or that they’d be Klingons of all species, but it’s been fine so far. I see there’s one final guest, and you are?”

This last Klingon was tall, with a head of dark hair and piercing blue eyes. He gave off an aura of pride, and he was dressed similarly to Fíli and Kíli, with a silver sash covered in medals and awards. Bilbo, who had never followed anyone into battle in his life and certainly never planned on, finally understood why people did it: this was a man, or a Klingon, he supposed, who was deserving of leadership, who people would follow. When he spoke, his voice was deep, and he seemed less cheerful, less outgoing than the rest of them. “I am Thorin, son of Thrain, son of Thror, of the house of Durin, Captain of the ISS Oakenshield.”

Bilbo still felt slightly in awe of him, but finally managed to force out, “Bilbo Baggins, son of the fourth house of Betazed, at the service of you and yours.”

Thorin smiled, and although it was a small one, Bilbo could sense deep joy. “You already have been. It is good to see you, sister-sons.”

“Aye, uncle,” Fíli said, standing up and touching his forehead to the man who was his uncle. Kíli must have done the same, but Bilbo had turned away, feeling that he was interloping on something very personal.

Gandalf, who had been suspiciously silent thus far, cleared his throat. “Well, now that we’ve all eaten and made merry, it is time to get down to business.” He pulled a small object from his pocket and set it on the kitchen island, and after clicking a button on its side, it projected a 3D map of the quadrant. The Klingons had stood up and gathered around it and Bilbo, who had been there to replicate more food for his two most recent arrivals, was trapped between Glóin and Ori who were gazing up at the map in undisguised interest.

“Far across the stars, in a region of space known in the Federation as the Triangle, and specifically in the Celindi nebula, lies a small Minshara class world,” Gandalf said, pointing at a planet near the center of the map.

“‘The Lonely Planet’?” Bilbo read.

“Aye. Erebor.” Óin, Glóin's brother, who inexplicably carried what appeared to be a large ear trumpet, nodded. “I’ve read the sacred texts, and they all say it is time. The RAVENHILL system has finally reset, and its been broadcasting all the way to Qo’nos. The time of the beast is ending.”

“The beast?” Bilbo repeated.

“Smaug the Terrible,” Bofur added helpfully, “chiefest and greatest calamity of our time. Flies, breathes fire, claws bigger than baby’s first bat’leth--”
“Wait, wait, wait, are you talking about a dragon?” Bilbo’s dark eyes went wide. “Surely you’re not serious.”

“He does not jest,” Thorin said, and his voice caused all the little whispering to stop. “Our task is to cross the stars and reclaim our homeland from a dragon that wiped out over half the house of my ancestors over a century ago.”

“Captain, we number only thirteen in this room today,” Balin said. “Did you not seek aid from the High Council?”

Thorin’s blue eyes seemed to darken, like a bright sky becoming a thunderstorm, and his jaw was set. “I did. I went to them, I went to Dain and his house, and I went back to the High Council again. They will not help us. They say this quest is ours and ours alone.”

The soft murmurs started up again, and several of the Klingons, namely Dori and Glóin, looked and felt more than a little concerned.

“It does not matter how many warriors we have. What matters is the strength of the warrior.” Fíli had leaned over the counter, and was looking around at the group. “We’re fighters, all of us.”

Dwalin nodded, and crossed his arms over his chest, making his biceps appear about as large as one of Bilbo’s thighs. “Four thousand throats may be cut in one night by a running man.”

“We also have an asset nobody is expecting us to have: Tharkûn. He’s certainly killed space monsters before,” Kíli said in a conspiratorial stage whisper. This drew further nods and soft murmuring from the others.

Gandalf let out a soft, noncommittal hum and took a drag on--good lord, when had he found time to light a pipe? Dori, who had shown up in the group of five and had a very ornately done beard like his brothers’, although his was pure white, gave Gandalf a sharp look. “Well, how many dragons have you killed?”

Gandalf choked on a puff of smoke, and stuttered out, “Well, I haven’t specifically done that but--”

Immediately twelve of the thirteen Klingons seemed to get into the discussion all at once, and Bilbo was hit with a wave of so many different variations of “irritated” he couldn’t have specifically identified them. Suddenly, there was the sound of broken glass, and Bilbo looked up to see one of the bottles of liquor shattered into a bunch of pieces on the corner of his kitchen island, and the rest of it in Thorin’s hand.

Thorin bellowed something in such rapid fire Klingon that Bilbo’s translator couldn’t keep up, but just before it started working, he switched back into standard. “If we have seen the signs, others have as well. Eyes throughout the Empire and beyond look to Erebor, nestled right in the triangle, one of the most strategic points in the quadrant. We can not wait for others to claim what is ours, we must take it ourselves. Do we let them take it, or seize our destiny like the children of Kahless we are?”

The room filled with cheerful Klingon roars, and aside from the fact that he wondered if his eardrums were going to split, Bilbo was grateful that Thorin had redirected them back to making plans instead of starting trouble. Balin, however, shook his head. “We’re still locked out of the RAVENHILL system. There’s no way to get onto the planet without putting it at risk of destruction.”

“Actually, that’s not quite true,” Gandalf said. He reached into the pocket of his long robes, similar to the Vulcan style, and pulled out what looked like a credit chip and handed it to Thorin. The room quieted once again, and Bilbo felt Thorin’s shock at this item that Bilbo couldn’t quite see to identify.

When he spoke, Thorin’s voice was soft, almost choked up. “How did you come by this?”

“The last time I saw your father, about a year before the Battle of the Binary Stars, he gave me this for safekeeping. I have kept it safe for long enough, and now I am giving it to you,” Gandalf said.

Fíli's blue eyes (Durin blue, Bilbo thought, unsure if it was his own idea or one borrowed from one of his new companions) brightened. “Does that--”

“Yes,” Thorin said, holding the info stick up into the light, where small engraved symbols could be seen. “It holds all the emergency access codes we need to retake control of RAVENHILL.”

“Which means there’s another way in,” Kíli said, “we just have to find it.”

“The answer may not be so simple,” Gandalf said, blowing out a big smoke ring. “I know that stick has the information to tell us where the door is, but it’s heavily encrypted. There are some in the quadrant who could decrypt it, but it is beyond my abilities. And even after that, getting in will pose its own set of problems. We’ll need to play it smart.”

“That’s why we need a burglar,” one of the quieter Klingons, Ori, said.

“I imagine you’d need an expert,” Bilbo mused aloud.

“And are you?” Glóin asked, breaking up Bilbo’s still slightly distracted chain of thought.

“Am I what now?” Bilbo replied, making Glóin and several of the other Klingons laugh. After sensing the reason for their amusement, Bilbo’s dark eyes went wide. “Wait, no, I’m not a burglar. I’ve never stolen anything in my life, I swear it on my mother’s house.”

“I must say I believe Mr. Baggins,” Balin said.

Dwalin continues, “Aye, he looks more scared than a cornered targ just thinking about it. At least targs meet death bravely.”

Suddenly Gandalf seemed to pull himself up to an even taller height, almost taller than Dwalin and Thorin, and his voice grew deep and heavy in a way Bilbo wouldn’t have guessed it could. “You asked me to find you a burglar, and I have. Trust me!” His voice returned to normal, and the atmosphere seemed to go back to the way it was. “Betazoids are light on their feet, and capable of passing unseen when they need to. And while the dragon is very familiar with the scent of Klingon, it has never encountered a Betazoid before, which will be a definite advantage. You asked me to find the fourteenth member of your company, and I have chosen Bilbo Baggins. He has more to offer than you or even he realizes, if you just give him the chance to reach his potential.”

Bilbo felt warmed by Gandalf’s praise, but when Thorin grunted out, “Fine, give him the contract,” he immediately back tracked.

“No, no, no, I really must decline,” Bilbo said.

Bofur whistled loudly in support as Balin pressed a padd into his hands. “It’s the usual summary: out of pocket expenses, time required, which one of us will avenge you if you’re killed, that sort of thing.”

“Seems normal,” Bilbo muttered, and then, “wait, vengeance?”

Thorin and Gandalf were having a conversation off to the side, while Bilbo, for reasons even he couldn’t identify, actually read through the contract. “Why’s there a clause in here for incineration?”

“That’s cause Smaug’ll light you up and burn the flesh off your bones quicker than anything,” Bofur cut in, in what he thought was a helpful tone.

Bilbo went very still, which Nori took as permission to keep going. “Think furnace with wings. Hotter than the fires of Gre’thor.”

“It’s a quick death, though,” Óin said pragmatically. Bilbo felt like he couldn’t breathe. “Flash of light, searing pain, then your soul is back in the house of your father.”

“Or mother. We believe in equal opportunity afterlives,” Fíli said, reaching across the island and clapping Bilbo on the shoulder again. “Wait, are you alright?”

“Not exactly,” Bilbo breathed out, and that was the last thing he remembered before fainting on the deck.

***

Bilbo woke up 20 minutes later sitting in the chair in what used to be his father’s study, with Gandalf leaning over him. “I’m alright,” Bilbo said, accepting the glass of water. “I just need a few moments of quiet.”

“You’ve been quiet for too long,” Gandalf muttered. “Sitting here, putting around this station.”

“I’m Betazoid,” Bilbo argued, feeling suddenly defensive. “This was the house of my mother, and her mother, and--”

“First of all, you’re lying, this was your father’s mother’s house, and second of all, there’s more to the universe than being your mother’s son, as fine a son as you may be,” Gandalf said, not unkindly. “You have bold blood in you. You know, your great grandfather on your mother’s side Bullroarer Took was part of the contingent that first made contact with the Vulcans, all those years ago? Your people beat humanity by nearly 25 years. And deny it as much as you want, but you are your mother’s son. You crave adventure, the unknown, a chance to boldly go where no son of the fourth house has gone before.”

Bilbo was quiet. “If I follow you out into the black, can you promise that I’ll make it home again?”

Gandalf sighed. “I can not, and even if you do, I know for a fact you won’t be the same.”

“I knew you’d say that,” Bilbo said. “I can’t sign this. I’m not cut out for this. I’m not as much like my mother as you think.”

Gandalf stood up and left, and as the door slid open to the living room, he could see the Klingons gathered outside. They probably aren’t too disappointed with my opting out at least, Bilbo thought glumly, staying in his the study. However, even through the walls, he could still hear their discussion.

“Burglar opting out?” Balin asked, and Gandalf only hmmphed. “It’s not like our odds were great anyways.”

“There are fine warriors among us,” Thorin’s deep voice replied.

“Old warriors,” Balin said.

Bilbo felt a swell of Thorin’s passion, and heard him saying, “I will choose each and every one of these Klingons over an army that’s the pride of Qo’nos. For when I put out the call, they answered. Loyalty, honor, a willing heart. What more can I ask than that?”

“You still don’t have to do this, Thorin,” Balin said. “You’ve built us a fine life in the Blue Sector. The happiness of our people is more valuable than Erebor.”

“This has been the burden of my father and his father. It is my turn to live up to the standards of my forefathers. I have no other choice,” Thorin said conviction unwavering.

Bilbo felt Balin’s resolve grow stronger. “We’ll see it through, lad. Faith is a better weapon than the sharpest blade.”

Bilbo stood up to go back out there and be a good host again, and had reached the doorway when all the Klingons began humming, so low and deep Bilbo could feel it in his bones. Then Thorin began to sing,

“Far over the misty parsecs cold

To dungeons deep and caverns old

We must away ere break of day

To find our long-forgotten gold.”

The other Klingons--Bilbo could pick out Bofur, Balin, and Dwalin’s voices--joined in on the next verses.

“The mountain smoked beneath the moon;

The Klingons heard the tramp of doom.

They fled their hall to dying fall

Beneath his feet, beneath the moon.

“Far over the misty parsecs grim

To dungeons deep and caverns dim

We must away, ere break of day,

To win our harps and gold from him.”

As the song went on, Bilbo felt something shift inside him, and understood the love of beautiful fine things and of testing their strength in your own hand, of being in your father’s house, and he understood the desires of the hearts of the Klingons. But he knew it wasn’t meant to be, and stepped back into his father’s study to be alone. But even as he lie down to go to sleep, he could still feel the Klingons’ almost subsonic humming, and hear Thorin’s voice singing “we must away, ere break of day” into his dreams.