bljeghbe'chugh vaj blHegh
– 'Surrender or Die' in the Klingon language
In the universe of Star Trek, the long-running science fiction series, the Klingons are an aggressive, warrior species whose entire culture is focused on tribal tradition, position in society, honour... and violence: 'It is far better to die with honour than to live dishonourably'. Whereas Vulcans greet one another with a hand gesture and the wish to Live long and prosper, Klingons are more likely to say:
heghlu'meH qaQ jajvam – 'Today is a good day to die'
Such species seem inevitably to develop advanced skills in making and using weapons. Although they can and do make use of advanced technological weapons, hand weapons are the preferred choice of most Klingon warriors. It is not difficult to engage a Klingon in combat – insulting him will be more than adequate. If you are faced with hand-to-hand combat against a Klingon aggressor, it is most likely that he will be armed with either the D'k tahg knife or the bat'leth sword; either way, he will be expert in its use.
Klingons judge their strength by how much pain they can endure. Once, when Lt Worf was more miserable and grumpy than usual, Dr Bashir and Chief O'Brien set him up to be struck repeatedly with the 'oy'naQ (a pain stick torture device) by holographic Klingon warriors. It really cheered him up! In addition to their formidable strength, Klingons are able to survive injuries that would prove life-threatening to most other species. This is because their physiology has most of their vital organs duplicated – each organ has a redundant backup.
The Klingon species' flag is not dissimilar to that of the Nazi Party which is probably not a coincidence. It has a red background with a white central circle on which is superimposed a black three-edged figure. Two limbs of this figure are curved like talons while the central upwards-pointing third is an elongated diamond-shape. The three segments are separated to form a white 'V'.
The Bat'leth (Sword of Honour)
On the Klingon home world of Kronos, competitions are staged regularly in which young warriors can display their prowess with the bat'leth (also sometimes spelled bat'telh). This double-handed weapon is the ultimate in Klingon hand weapons, but can take a lifetime to learn to use properly. Forged in a single piece, it has three hand-grips behind a long arc-like metal blade that curves to vicious pointed blades at each end. Between these outer blades there are two further knife-like blades, like talons, making the weapon a four-pronged sword. Held in front of the body, it can be wielded high or low, swung horizontally, vertically or diagonally, used to stab and is just as effective for parrying the blows of an attacker as it is in offence; it is lethal from almost any part which makes contact with an opponent.
Kahless the Unforgettable
Kahless the Unforgettable, founder and first emperor of the Klingon Empire, forged the first bat'leth from a lock of hair. A Klingon Opera (ghe'naQ in Klingon – is sung in no'Hol, a very old language now used only for that purpose) was written to commemorate the marriage of Kahless and his beloved Lady Lukara, also a mighty warrior. The ancient ritual and their wedding vows are recreated by many betrothed couples wishing to honour the legendary emperor and his bride. Wedding guests are be expected to be armed with ma'Stakas in order to act out a ceremonial attack upon the bridal couple. The ma'Staka is a long, carved wooden club with a large stone at the head.
For many centuries after Kahless went to Sto-Vo-Kor to greet the honoured dead as they arrived for their eternal reward, Klingon warriors would pray to him for strength and guidance during coming battles. Iconic statues of the Emperor were kept by many Klingon families, who believed their founder would return one day as he promised. Klingon children are taught everything about Kahless and are expected to quote phrases attributed to him such as:
Destroying an empire to win a war is no victory. And ending a battle to save an empire is no defeat.
Over a thousand years after Kahless breathed his last, Lt Worf took a pilgrimage to Boreth, a planet orbiting a star which Kahless had pointed out to his faithful followers as his place of return. Worf thought he was hallucinating after his pain and endurance ritual when he met what he thought was the actual Kahless! It turned out that this was a clone engineered from DNA1 taken from blood on the Knife of Kirom2 by the clerics of the monastery established to await the return of Kahless. However, the 'second coming' of Kahless had invoked a unification of the Klingon people and Chancellor Gowron was persuaded to install the clone as a puppet Emperor and spiritual leader.
The D'k tahg
The D'k tahg knife, pierced through by a channel running almost the whole length of the blade, is ideal for close combat fighting. This heavy, straight knife has a rounded butt end to the hilt, below the hand-grip, which is studded with sharp spikes, to further aid the possible uses of the weapon. At least two forms exist, the most common of which has two retractable horn-like blades at the base of the main blade. It is also symbolic of a warrior's honour and will be one of his most revered possessions.
The kut'luch is a particularly vicious weapon that has many jagged and serrated edges to its blade. It is favoured by assassins, who twist and turn the blade after thrusting it into the body of their victim.
The mek'leth is similar to the bat'leth, but is shorter, resembling a scimitar, and designed for use with one hand.
The mevak dagger isn't strictly a weapon, more a ceremonial dagger. It is used to kill a family member (at their request) to restore their honour. When Lt Worf broke his back and he was informed he was paralysed, he asked Captain Picard to use the mevak dagger on him because he did not want to live on as an invalid. Picard refused; just as well because Klingon physiology wasn't well known to the Federation at that time. Worf's spinal column regenerated itself and he was able to walk and fight again.
The Pleasure of Pain
By the way, did you know that Klingons don't have tear-ducts? Surprised?
– An h2g2 Researcher
In 'Little Green Men', the Ferengi Rom sells off all his son Nog's belongings on DS9 to fund his future entertainment for when Nog joins Star Fleet Academy on Earth. Worf tries out Nog's tooth sharpener, recoils in pain, then purchases it.
When Worf encountered multiple universes, he discovered in one particular reality that he and Counsellor Deanna Troi were married and had a family. In his own reality he and Deanna had never been an item and he hadn't a clue that she was even attracted to him. When he got back to his own universe, he invited Deanna to his quarters for a glass of champagne to celebrate his birthday, which elicited the raised-eyebrow response:
I thought you'd have preferred to hit yourself with a pain stick, or something.
Inflicting pain on one another is part of the courtship ritual for Klingons and their partners. Sex can end in bone fractures, multiple bruising and blood-spilling, and even death itself is par for the course. The ultimate Klingon sexual experience is surviving the encounter...
Earth females are too fragile... I was merely concerned for the safety of my crewmates.
– Lt Worf in reply to Guinan's query as to why he didn't seek out companionship on the Enterprise-D
The Klingon idea of romance leaves no room for compromise. If any other species were to consider a close encounter of the nuptial kind then they had better be prepared for a visit to the Infirmary the following day, as Dr Bashir can confirm. He was kept exceptionally busy repairing injuries like dislocated shoulders and disjointed knees after the joined-Trill Lt Jadzia Dax and her future husband Worf progressed from being work colleagues to lovers. Their first 'date' was spent on the Holodeck where Jadzia discovered Worf making use of her Klingon exercise programme, and Jadzia ended up joining him for a workout session (with bat'leths). They did make a handsome couple though, and the sight of them helping one another hobble towards Sick Bay each morning was quite heartwarming.
I've heard about Klingon women and their insatiable sexual drives.
– Lt Tom Paris, fancying his chances with half-Klingon B'Elanna Torres
Klingon females are not allowed to hold direct power in the Klingon Empire, so they manipulate situations (and men) to attain their desires. Highly prized as potential mates, they will not commit until the male has proved his worthiness. The Ferengi Quark was once visited at his bar on DS9 by his ex-wife the Lady Grilka – a Klingon female – much to the surprise of the rest of the space station's personnel. Even Quark's nemesis Constable Odo grudgingly admitted (to Kira Nerys) that Quark must have remarkable physical strength to have ever won such a bride. Of course, it's possible that she was just turned on by his exceedingly sharp k'chat (teeth). The truth was a little less romantic; their union was mutually beneficial as Grilka had just become a widow and didn't want to lose her possessions to the Klingon government, and Quark saw a profitable opportunity.
In Generations, the El-Aurian Dr Tolian Soran colluded with two Klingon females (the Duras sisters Lursa and B'Etor) as part of his plot to gain access to the Nexus, where he would be able to spend eternity enacting his fantasies. While busy attempting to manipulate its path through space he reacted angrily to the interference of one of the sisters and assaulted her, splitting her lip. As she wiped the blood from her mouth she sneered:
I hope for your sake you are initiating a mating ritual.