Saturday, August 19, 2006

“Away Mission III: Klingonisch”—part 3

Today is Gene Roddenberry's birthday, so after reading this final installment of “Klingonisch,” head over to to read their tribute of the man that created “the show that changed the world”!

Blog #21 by Jeff Greenwald
Author of Future Perfect:
How Star Trek Conquered Planet Earth

Taken from the chapter
" Away Mission III: Klingonisch "
There’s an awards ceremony at twilight. The top Klingon officers assemble on a crude cement stage beneath a canopy of trees, dressed in thick regalia. The formalities are conducted under the glowering eye (and crustacean brow) of Toqduj Zantai JonwI: the fearsome Fleet Admiral of the entire Khemorex Klinzhai . Bats swoop around his ears, feasting on invisible gnats.

Ten warriors are called up in turn, and honored for outstanding service to the fleet. Finally, Q’Eltor himself is summoned. Along with a promotion to Lieutenant Commander, Ralf receives the Qet’lop’s coveted SuvwI’a’ award. “The literal translation,” taj’IH explains proudly, is, ‘That’s a warrior!’ ”

There is more drinking, more singing, and drinking again. When darkness falls, the warriors reconvene for a Klingon wedding. Qor-Zantai Haqtaj, Commanding Officer of the Dark Vengeance Fleet, will wed the half-Klingon, half-human B’Elanna Torres. The bride and groom look marvelous. Haqtaj struts among the picnic tables in his armadillo-like jacket, bedecked with medals and pins; B’Ellana (named for the half-Klingon engineer on Voyager) adjusts her headpiece, and applies dark makeup to her nose.

Though the ceremony won’t have the blessing of the Holy Church, it’s carried out in reverent Klingon style. Haqtaj literally battles his way to the altar. He’s a big man, and brooks no nonsense. Thick-suited warriors tumble over park benches (and each other) with loud shouts, their swords clanking into the dust. When the couple is finally united, taj’IH—the master of ceremonies for many of the evening’s events—presents them with small tokens: an amulet for her, a nose ring for him. They exchange vows and drink together from a silver chalice. Finally the bride and groom snarl at each other and share a savage kiss. Blood (or something close) flows down their chins. They exit the stage amid roars of congratulations.

By the time the ceremony ends, it’s bitterly cold outside. I join a pack of Klingons standing around the pit fire, singing battle songs and roasting marshmallows. RaH’el appears beside me, palming her dagger.

“The wedding was great,” I sigh.

“Yes.” She leers, fangs glinting in the firelight. “But the divorce will be better.”

An hour or so later, I find Supreme Admiral Toqduj Zantai JonwI—aka Andy Wilson—sitting alone on a picnic bench. I take a seat beside him. In his other life, Wilson is a rough-looking Scot, born in Paisley. A former cop, now a mechanic, he shows up at the Qet’lops “whenever I can afford it.”

Wilson first saw Klingons on TOS in 1966, when he was fifteen. “I’ve never been a Federation fan,” he sneers. “It’s like cowboys and Indians. I’ve always sided with the Indians—and Klingons are definitely the Indians.”

Wilson and his buddy, Stephen Donnelley, started the Khemorex Klinzhai (literally, the “Klingon spirit that grows”) in 1993. It was an act of treason: a mutiny from the U.S.-based Klingon Assault Group (KAG). Klingons in the U.K. and Europe cheered the move, shifting their allegiance to the local leaders. From its seed group of “ten Scottish guys,” the KK membership spread like wildfire. There are now more than 400 members throughout Europe.

“America-based fan clubs tend not to be a great idea for the U.K., or Europe in general,” Wilson tells me over a Styrofoam cup of wild prune juice, “because communications are difficult. Also, American Klingon groups tend to have a very short life span. They last a year, eighteen months at most, and then they fold. Compared to that, the Khemorex Klinzhai’s been going a very long time.”

There was probably another motive for the split as well. Personalities attracted to the Klingon mystique, obviously, prefer being in charge. It’s hard to blame them. Especially the Scots, whose great heroes have been in small, marauding bands rather than united armies.

“Scots are born warriors,” Wilson confirms, puffed up in his flamboyant uniform. “We’ve always been warriors. It’s in the bloodline. And if y’hear two Scots arguin’—why, it even sounds like Klingon!”

“Do you feel,” I ask, “like a Fleet Admiral?”

Wilson laughs, rolling a smoke. “When there are other Klingons about, yes.”


“Otherwise I’m just Andy Wilson, mechanic.”

A pod of warriors walk by, saluting smartly. Wilson nods in response, and strikes a match with his thumbnail.

At 2 a.m., music is still blasting through the trees. The late-night anthem is Tek for Trek, a heavy metal CD produced by a band of musicians from Berlin. Everyone present knows the songs by heart, and their Klingonisch howls could rouse a rotted skunk.

I slink off into the medical tent and collapse onto one of the army surplus cots, shivering under a borrowed sleeping bag. The music pounds on through the night. When I wake at dawn, breath steaming, I see a Klingon asleep in the cot next to mine. His black leather tunic, metal sash and molded brow piece are covered with frost.

That’s a warrior.


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