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2151 (Enterprise NX-01)
First City, Qo'noS
Aggressive, warrior mentality
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The Klingons (Klingonese: tlhIngan) are a humanoid warrior species that originated from the planet Qo'noS (pronounced Kronos), an M-class planet. One of the major powers of the galaxy, the Klingons are a proud, tradition-bound people who value honour and combat. The aggressive Klingon culture has made them an interstellar military power to be respected and feared. Klingons believe that they have the instinctive ability to look an opponent in the eye and see any intent to kill.
History and politics
- Main article: Klingon history
The Klingon Empire was founded some time in the 9th century by Kahless the Unforgettable, who performed many heroic feats including the unification of the Klingon people when he killed the tyrant Molor. Kahless came to be revered in Klingon society to the point of near-deification, and many aspects of Klingon culture came to revolve around an emulation of Kahless' life.
The warrior ethos had been an important aspect of Klingon society since the time of Kahless, but the warrior aspects became much more dominant beginning in the early 22nd century. Previously, Klingon society was regarded as socially balanced, but over time the warrior caste gained greater prominence, to the point where the Klingons widely came to be regarded as a "warrior race."
Because of their aggressive outlook, the Klingons generally had poor relations with other races after they began to move out into space. Because the worlds of the Klingon Empire were resource-poor, the Klingons developed an intense belief in the need for expansion and conquest in order to survive. The Klingons' relationship with Humans and the Federation was rocky at best. Following the disastrous First Contact between Klingons and Humans, tense rivalries and unavoidable conflicts often developed between the two races.
In the year 2154, the Klingons gained access to the genetic material of Human Augments and tried to adapt this genetic engineering to improve themselves.
The test subjects did gain increased strength and intelligence, but then their neural pathways started to degrade and they died in agony. One of the subjects suffered from the Levodian flu, which was modified by the Augment DNA to become a fatal, airborne, mutagenic plague that spread rampantly among the Empire, from world to world. In the first stage of this plague, Klingons lost the ridges on their foreheads and began to look more Human.
Though a cure was formulated, it only halted the genetic effects of the virus in the first stage, retaining changes in appearance along with some minor neural re-ordering. The neural ordering caused changes in the emotional make up of the Klingons; for example, the infected started to feel fear strong enough for them not to brush it off as most uninfected Klingons do. Even though the infected did not develop any stage-two characteristics, such as enhanced strength, speed, or endurance, they did not die from the virus. This left millions of Klingons changed, and these alterations were even passed on to their children. Klingons who suffered from these smooth foreheads came to be known as the QuchHa, or "the unhappy ones". By the 2270s, the Klingons encountered by the Federation had been able to restore their forehead ridges to their natural state.
Though the cure for the augment disease removed the affects of improved Augment strength and intelligence, the QuchHa retained the superior ambition of the Augments, and were largely responsible for the Empire's expansion in over the following century, eventually achieving a majority on the Klingon High Council.
Klingons were apparently so embarrassed by the fallout from their failed attempt at genetic enhancement that they refused to discuss the incident with outsiders. Due to the secrecy of the Klingon Empire, knowledge of the change became lost over time to the general population of the Federation. By the 24th century, the reason for smooth forehead Klingons was not widely known outside the Empire, and questions were generally met with a brusque answer along the lines of "we don't discuss it with outsiders."
By 2223, relations between the Federation and the Klingon Empire degenerated to a point of relentless hostility, which lasted for several decades.
The lingering tensions between Klingons and Humans continued to rise, eventually leading to the Battle of Donatu V near Sherman's Planet in 2245, and later erupted into what was considered the Federation-Klingon War of 2267. This war was quickly ended by intervention by the Organians after only four days of fighting. Over the next several decades, an uneasy peace developed that was broken by brief but fierce skirmishes and conflicts. A true and lasting peace finally came in 2293 with the signing of the Khitomer Accords, thanks to the efforts of Chancellor Gorkon and the Human Starfleet officer James T. Kirk. Since then, despite several periods of rocky relations (see Federation-Klingon War (2372-73)), the Federation and the Klingon Empire have been steadfast allies, especially in the face of Dominion aggression in the 2370s.
The Klingon relationship with the Romulan people was also extremely unstable. A short-lived alliance and technology exchange notwithstanding, the Romulan Star Empire were typically regarded by the Klingons as a "blood enemy" since at least the 23rd century. Sporadic Romulan attacks against Klingon colonies and interference in Klingon affairs continue to sour relationships between the two peoples. The Klingons have also typically held a grudging distrust of the Tholians, though they have always respected the non-humanoid's species military strength within their own space, and any conceived raids into Tholian territory were often abandoned in their conception when the military leaders determined that the losses would greatly outweigh the gains.
The Klingons' shared border with the Gorn Hegemony has also been cause for many periods of strife over the years, with both races composed of a warrior, expansionist culture. Following the end of the Dominion War and the repositioning of the Gorn fleets along the shared borders, the Klingons have focussed heavily on reinforcing their installations and patrols in that region, and the frequency of conflicts between the two races have steadily increased throughout the late 2380s.
"Even half drunk, Klingons are among the best warriors in the galaxy."
- – USS Voyager Emergency Medical Hologram
Klingon society is extremely complex. Before its decline in the mid 22nd century and again in late 23rd century Klingon society was based on a feudal system organised around traditional Great Houses of noble lineage, to which various parts of the population owed fealty. The Great Houses are traditionally represented in the Klingon High Council, which is led by a Chancellor.
The decline of Klingon culture is demonstrated in the acts of the Klingons themselves. They stopped caring about their weapons to the point that they let them rust and even stopped caring for true honour. Sometime after the augment virus took hold of the Klingon Empire a new regime took control turning the Empire into a fascist state that kept tabs on all who served. The old ways returned in the latter 23rd and early 24th centuries.
Males traditionally dominate public life in the Empire, assuming the leading roles in politics and the military with only rare exceptions. A notable exception to the prohibition of women serving on the High Council came when Azetbur became Chancellor of the High Council after her father, Gorkon, was assassinated in 2293. Women, in turn, traditionally dominate the household and the management of the family's affairs. Klingon women are treated as equals except in politics and matters of inheritance. They are prohibited by law from serving in the High Council and cannot take control of their Houses unless they have the money and no male successors of the lineage. Otherwise, Klingon women are expected to exhibit the same physical prowess and lust for blood and honour as the men.
Klingon society functions through a system of family reputation and honour. Tradition is an integral part of their lives and breaking from observances is considered a grievous insult to society, an insult that is not forgotten easily. An offence usually brought shame to the offender's name for several generations. The highest shame is discommendation, an action by the High Council to officially strip a Klingon of his personal or family honour. Bloodlines and relations are also taken very seriously by any "true" Klingon. Lines comprise more than mere family members.
An integral part of tradition is the various rituals that mark milestones in a Klingon's life or the history of the Empire. Most notable of the rites is the Rite of Succession, which a future leader of the Empire must complete with a valid Arbiter of Succession overseeing the proceedings. Before the Rite can begin, there is another elaborate ceremony needed to confirm the death of the previous leader. This is known as the Sonchi ceremony. Individual Klingon warriors are expected to go through the Rite of Ascension to be recognized as a full adult. If the house that an individual Klingon belongs to is dissolved or falls into dishonour, he can be adopted into another house through the R'uustai or alternative ceremonies that symbolically mark the joining of kinship and allegiance.
Klingons are extremely territorial. According to the first known Klingon linguist, there is no such thing as an "insignificant corner of Klingon space".
The race's warrior mind means that they prefer matters to be clear-cut with speech as well as manners being blunt - this means that they ignore ambiguous concepts as there should be no misunderstanding. To the Klingon psyche, things are either black or white, good or evil - there is nothing in-between the two. This means that a warrior must declare his intent and say what's on his mind. They do this proudly and look into the eyes of others as not doing so is insulting.
Klingon culture is shaped around the following of the K'ajii; the Warrior Path. This means that every Klingon wants to grow up to be a warrior which has resulted in the prominence of the warrior caste. However, with so many recruits there exist few positions to fill the demand. At graduation from their Academy of choice, the Klingon petitions his house for warrior status, which is a highly prideful act. However, those that do not reach such positions within their lives are expected to find other means to support themselves as well as their houses through some other lower profession such as being a factory worker, farmer or a merchant.
In addition to this, Klingon society is divided into numerous tiers, with the nobility being the highest. These are the lords of the houses whether they are Great or minor ones and possess a great deal of power through the armies as well as lands under their command. Due to their status, they are presumed to be the most honourable of their kind and enjoy a great deal of privilege. The second tier consists of those who seek the warrior's path by admission into the military, though this is not a hereditary position as is the case with the nobility. However, relations to a loyal warrior counts in the applicant's favour. The tier below the warriors consists of accountants, weapon-smiths, nursemaids as well as other second-rate professions which are required to maintain their society. Both of these tiers are considered commoners in the Empire, and are unable to enter the Klingon Defence Forces as an officer, though it has been known for them to be raised to such a status after a greatly honourable action. Commoners don't belong to any House, and will rarely be referred to as son of or daughter of, as those of noble blood often are.
The second lowest tier consists of the subjugated races within the Klingon Empire who possess a ranking greater then a slave but lower then an actual citizen. At the very bottom of Klingon social structure are those who have suffered from discommendation and were banished from the Empire.
In a sense, most Klingons are profoundly selfish, willing to waste the Empire's resources in a futile battle, if it ensures the glorious death they look forward to. This pursuit of honour at the cost of more tangible goals has cost the Empire dearly in the past. Famous warriors are revered the way artists, scientists, or statesmen are on other worlds. Almost the entire Klingon economy is devoted to financing the massive Klingon war machine, and the most influential families maintain their own private armies, to ensure they could engage in warfare even if the government could not. It is thus not surprising that the Empire has clashed with all its neighbors multiple times during its history, nor that civil war breaks out with almost every generation on Qo'noS.
The most distinctive feature of Klingon anatomy (except in those individuals afflicted with the Augment Virus) is a sagittal crest, beginning on the forehead and often continuing over the skull. The cranium is encased in an exoskeleton, which possesses a feature known as the tricipital lobe.
On average, Klingons are larger and physically stronger than Humans, though they possess a much lower tolerance for cold weather. Ambassador Spock said once that Klingons lack tear ducts; however, Klingon myth states that Kahless once filled the ocean with his tears, and at least one Klingon, Kurn, has produced tears.
Klingon blood can contain ribosomes that are compatible for transfusion with a Romulan.
Internally, Klingon anatomy is markedly different from that of Humans. There is a great deal more multiple redundancy in their organs, a principle they call brak'lul. This allows Klingons to survive severe injuries in battle. They have twenty-three ribs, two livers, an eight chambered heart, three lungs, and even redundant neural function and multiple stomachs. Some geneticists believe that the extra organs, notably the third lung, evolved to give Klingons greater stamina on the battlefield. Surprisingly, Klingons have relatively little knowledge of their own biology and their medicine was very poorly developed until the signing of the Khitomer Accords and the cooperation with Federation medical specialists. This was largely due to their warrior traditions – a Klingon who is wounded was expected to be left to survive through his own strength, die, or to undergo the hegh'bat, a form of ritual suicide.
It is interesting to note that, despite the anatomical and physiological differences between Klingons and Humans, the two species have very similar nutritional requirements.
Klingon pregnancies normally run thirty weeks, but with mixed species, gestation times are shorter. The odds against Klingon-Human conceptions were rather high; however, when successful, Klingon and Human metabolisms sometimes clashed, causing biochemical fluctuations in the mother, which may lead to fainting. Klingon traits remain dominant for several generations, even with a single ancestor; therefore, a child even ¼ Klingon still possesses forehead ridges if he or she carries the gene.
Klingons have ridged spines, chests and feet. After birth some Klingon infants experience a pronounced curvature to the spine, which is correctable by surgery. This "defect" tends to run in Klingon families, especially among females. Federation medicine, fortunately, has advanced beyond that, allowing an additional choice of treatment involving genetic modification.
Klingon children mature far more quickly than Human children. At the age of only one Earth year, a Klingon child has the appearance a Human child has at about four. By the age of eight Earth years, a Klingon attains the maturity a Human does not reach until about age sixteen. When Klingon children begin growing into adults, they go through jak'tahla, a Klingon form of puberty. Like other mammalian species, Klingon females are capable of lactating to breast-feed infants.
Klingons tend to live for over 150 years, but even into advanced old age, they tend to still be strong enough for combat.
Religion and tradition
Ritual was a very important element in Klingon society. While the Klingons were not a religious people as such, they did believe that deities existed at one time. However, Klingon warriors supposedly slew their gods as they were considered to be more trouble than they were worth. Klingons did not believe in fate; however, they did appear to believe in some form of luck.
Once a Klingon died, the spirit was considered to have exited the body, leaving behind a worthless shell to be disposed of. In the Klingon death ritual, it was traditional for those on hand to howl into the sky as a warning to the afterlife that a Klingon warrior was about to arrive. In some cases a funeral dirge was sung in memory of the deceased, or friends sat with the body to protect it from predators, a practice known as ak'voh.
Furthermore, a Klingon who was unable to fight, and hence is unable to live as a warrior any more, had the traditional obligation of committing the hegh'bat, which was the Klingon ritual suicide. Tradition dictated that the eldest son or a close personal friend must assist. That person's role was to hand the dying Klingon a knife so that he can plunge it into his heart, remove it, and then wipe the blood on his own sleeve.
The Klingon afterlife was supposedly divided into two branches. The dishonoured were taken to Gre'thor aboard the Barge of the Dead, a vessel captained by Kortar, the first Klingon. Kortar was supposedly the one who had originally killed the gods who created him and was condemned to ferry the dishonoured to Gre'thor as a punishment. Once in Gre'thor, the dishonoured were watched over by Fek'lhr, a vaguely Klingon-esque figure. While it may be tempting to view Fek'lhr as the Klingon equivalent of the Human devil, according to Kang, the Klingons have no devil.
Those who die honourably supposedly went to Sto-vo-kor, where Kahless was said to await them. However, should a noble warrior die in a manner that might not merit a place in Sto-vo-kor, such as being assassinated in a surprise attack, he may still earn a place if others dedicate a great battle to his name, thus showing that he has earned respect among the living.
Klingon rituals included the R'uustai, a bonding ceremony which joined two people together in a relationship similar to brotherhood. Klingon tradition holds that "the son of a Klingon is a man the day he can first hold a blade."
If a Klingon warrior struck another Klingon with the back of his hand, it was interpreted as a challenge to the death. Klingon warriors spoke proudly to each other; they did not whisper or keep their distance. Standing far away or whispering were considered insults in Klingon society.
When going into battle, Klingon warriors often sang the traditional warriors' anthem, which was essentially an invocation to Kahless and a pledge to win a good death in battle.
When choosing a mate, it is traditional for a female Klingon to bite the male's face, allowing her to taste his blood and get his scent. Klingon daughters traditionally are given a piece of jewelry called a jinaq when they become old enough to select a mate.
Science and technology
Food and beverages
- Bregit lung
- Grapok sauce
- Heart of targ
- Klingon martini
- O'mat Gri T'M pffiots
- Pipius claw
- Rokeg blood pie