So I wrote the last article to write this one. Sort of.
To summarize the last article:
- Following a line from Star Trek: Enterprise episode 2x19 “Judgement”, I elaborated on some purely fan-fictional ideas about the Klingon social classes beyond the Warrior Class.
- I posited that the military takeover of the Empire in the 22nd century gutted the “Scholar” class of intellectuals, scientists, and legal experts, and set back science, medicine, law, the arts, and historical interpretation. The effect on medicine was pretty dire: doctors as a profession virtually disappeared, replaced with “medtechs” who required only a few years in the equivalent of a trade school before they could work on live Klingons. As Klingons can survive a lot of things, not many noticed.
- The other classes – Merchants, Workers, and an underclass of “aliens” and slaves – suffered severe restrictions in the 22nd and 23rd centuries, but gained more power and legal rights over the 24th century. Merchants could own their own ships, workers could and did amass enough wealth to own farms and factories, and non-Klingon slaves, freed in the late 24th century, saw their fortunes improve albeit as second-class citizens.
- Even the Scholar class eventually started to come back, thanks to an Imperial School of Medicine, greater tolerance for free speech, and scientific and cultural exchanges with the Federation.
This article details a Merchant/Worker family that persevered to become the equivalent of a warrior Great House, at least in influence. We also finally come to Lurlenn Qegh, the minor character from another fanfic whose development apparently required over 9000 words of prose.
Since the Qeghs speak a non-standard dialect of Klingon, below is a pronunciation guide to the names of its main members:
|Lurlenn||loor-LENN||lurleng||lur-lɛŋ / lyr-lɛnː 3|
|Tsiv||TSHIV||chIv||t͡ʃɪv / tsɪv|
|Uthenn||oo-THENN||uteng||u-tʰɛŋ / u-θɛnː 3|
The Qegh Dynasty
As their name5 implies, the Qegh family initially made its fortune fermenting a particularly fine variety of bloodwine6. Successive generations expanded into a variety of recreational substances, medical supplies, and biochemical products.
In the 24th century, patriarch Korrd’s marriage to Yolgotha Tong netted the Qegh family its own fleet of freighters as a dowry, as well as use of their extensive distribution network. Current family head Chehk’s marriage to Wenneg Yotlh gave them a large share of the Yotlh family’s farmland. Heir appparent Kratak married Ukraw Beyli’and used her family connections to secure permission to trade outside the Empire. With land to grow medicinal herbs, ships to distribute the final products, and new markets to sell them to, many liken the Qeghs to the conglomerates or combines of pre-WWIII Earth or modern Ferenginar. Inside the Empire, some call them the Qegh Dynasty.
Like any dynasty, the Qegh family has generated a lot of drama, much of it in the public eye.
The “Qegh Look”
Wenneg comes from solid working-class stock: field hands, quarriers, construction workers, haulers, lumberjacks. While she never had to work in the fields, her unusual size (6’ 4’’/ 193cm) and sturdy build – like a normal Klingon woman scaled up about 10% – marks her as someone who easily could.
Wenneg passed her size to her children Kratak (6’ 5’’/ 196cm), Lurlenn (6’ 3’’/ 190cm), Yahlekh (6’ 7’’/ 200cm), and L’thar (6’ 6’’/ 198cm). Her sons are notably broad-shouldered, with Kratak trading height for muscles; her daughter Lurlenn shares her mother’s “scaled up” proportions.
Wenneg’s grandchildren so far have not inherited what some incorrectly call the “Qegh look”.7 Those fully grown include Kratak’s son Usek (6’ 0’’/ 183cm), Usek’s younger sister Tsiv (5’ 9’’/ 175cm) and Yahlekh’s eldest daughter Sokohla (5’ 11’’/ 180cm), all of whom are of average build for Klingons.
For decades rumors of conflicts between the three generations of eldest males have plagued the Qegh family.
Korrd and Chehk
Some have accused Korrd of having a Ferengi’s soul. In the early 24th century he introduced a line of traditional herbal remedies which for the most part have no medicinal value … but they make superstitious soldiers feel better. Their only real active ingredient is a cheap vegetable oil; they could simply pour oil on their wounds for the same effect. Chehk instituted a “truth in labeling” policy on all Qegh products which Korrd insisted would tank their business. Sales of the questionable remedies have fallen, but not catastrophically.
Korrd also objected strenuously when Chehk proposed freeing their many Atapi slaves; their compromise was to “convert” their slavery into indenture contracts under which the Atapi would relinquish half their wages to pay off their indentures. The Atapi agreed readily, and Chancellor Martok’s order to free all slaves8 made Chehk seem prescient. Officially Korrd retired in 2376 at the age of 86 to raise orchids, but unofficially he meddles in the family business.
Many governments and civilians knew the Romulan sun would soon go nova. With the Federation rescue fleet destroyed in 2385 and no other major power doing anything, commercial enterprises and wealthy individuals organized a makeshift evacuation fleet that included Orion Free Traders, Federation-registered ships, Bajoran transports, and even a few Gorn cargo ships. Chehk decided to contribute a dozen Qegh ships, led by Yahlekh, to the effort, over objections from Korrd, other powerful merchant families, and officials in the Klingon government. Even with more than a year’s advanced warning, this fleet only managed to rescue a tiny fraction of Romulus’s and Remus’s population before the end. Public opinion remained divided.
Chehk and Kratak
Chehk in turn has postponed his own retirement until 2400 reportedly because he believes his son Kratak, who will already be 63 in 2400, cannot yet take over the family business. Kratak has already suffered several setbacks. The Qegh Combine’s standard medical products sell only in the Empire and Federation borderlands with similarly low standards for medical care. His idea to sell ceramo-plastic material for tool casings9 failed when Klingon clients preferred metal and prospective Federation customers used far superior materials. His new biomedical division lacks a direction after his sister Lurlenn refused to lead it and his search for replacements has borne no fruit. Some medical devices invented by Lurlenn before her departure looked promising, but her defection to the Federation led to Starfleet producing a more refined “portable medical bay” which the black market has already reverse engineered. Some say Chehk’s problem with Kratak isn’t his business setbacks, or even his cost-cutting measures eerily reminiscent of Korrd, but his lack of any strategy to resolve the family’s financial problems except luring Lurlenn back.
Most observers believe Kratak wants to continue the Qegh family’s legacy, but lacks Korrd’s business instincts and Chehk’s blend of social and fiscal responsibility. Conflicting advice from the former and current family heads, his financially conservative wife Ukraw, and more idealistic siblings Lurlenn, Yalekh, and L’thar may account for poor follow-through on innovative ideas. Some speculate Chehk may turn leadership of the family over to his wife Wenneg or his unlucky but dilligent younger brother Aturgh10 until Kratak gets his head straight. A few have even suggested Chehk may bypass Kratak entirely for one or both of Kratak’s children who will be 32 and 29 by 2400.
The Strange Case of Doctor Lurlenn Qegh
A Doctor Born
From an early age Lurlenn Qegh wanted to be a doctor. She set broken bones for enslaved Atapi on the Qegh plantations, diagnosed their various ilnesses due to overwork and poor nutrition, and even provided “herbal remedies” that actually worked (somewhat) … all while telling Korrd whatever lie would get him to let them work less and eat better.
Over Chehk’s objections Lurlenn set off for Kori’dyr to attend the Imperial School of Medicine. It took her two years of hard work to earn her first years’ tuition and dilligent study to pass the entrance exams, but in her eight years there she consistently ranked second – behind a rich kid who didn’t have to work her way through school – and earned a scholarship and several letters of recommendation. She spent two years as a traveling medic on several planets, from the border planet of Maranga IV where she first began translating and adapting Federation medical techniques to the capital of Qo’noS where even a century after Praxis she treated numerous radiation poisoning cases.
Medicine During Wartime
In 2371 the Imperial Support Fleet drafted her. She served as Chief Medical Officer on the Blade of Lukara, an aging Batlh refitted as a hospital and repair ship.
In 2372, during the Third Federation War a number of ships including the Blade of Lukara answered the automated distress call of the IKS Azetbur, a D7 whose crew suffered severe radiation burns and radiation poisoning, including potentially crippling delta radiation. Dr. Qegh took the most injured 34 patients and, using jerry-rigged equipment based on Federation research, arrested or reversed the effects of radiation poisioning. With skin grafts and other treatments, her patients – many of whom had begged her to let them die honorably – were well on the way to recovery by the time the Blade pulled into port.
The military promptly arrested Lurlenn and charged her with treason, conducting illegal experiments, “dishonoring Klingon warriors”, and several other counts which made even less sense to her. Despite her spirited defense – no one else would defend her – the court, influenced by a General Martok impostor, convicted her and sentenced her to life in Rura Penthe, the infamous “alien’s graveyard”.
After the real Martok returned and became Chancellor, he pardoned Lurlenn Qegh and even awarded her an Imperial Medal for Advancing Medicine, last awarded in the early 22nd century.
Jumping the Fence
Lurlenn spent most of the next decade consulting for the Qegh family’s biomedical division, various independent military clinics, a chain of medtech trade schools, and the Imperial Klingon Medical Service which trains both Defense Force and Support Fleet medics. At each position she tried, often unsuccessfully, to champion science-based medicine over unverified folk remedies and promote awareness of just how far the Federation and other powers had advanced medical techniques. By 2383 she ended her “education tour” and accepted a teaching and research position at the Imperial School of Medicine.
In 2387 the Romulan sun went supernova. Lurlenn was teaching a class when the school announced the news. She later described both her anger and nausea when many of her Klingon students cheered. As soon as she could Lurlenn joined the influx of doctors and aid workers to Vashti, the “relocation hub” for Romulan refugees. Using more advanced versions of her reverse-engineered Federation medical tools – still crude by Federation standards – she treated a number of patients suffering from physical trauma, radiation poisoning, exhaustion, and a few pathogens that mercifully did not develop into epidemics. She also met Vethun i-Mandukam t’Derrok11, a Romulan schoolteacher she drafted as a nurse’s aid because she spoke enough Klingon to understand directions.
Patients and fellow doctors alike initially looked down (metaphorically) on the towering Klingon doctor with her homemade medical tools, but a few Federation doctors and engineers examined her schematics and asked if they could use the designs to develop a “portable medical bay”. She agreed on the condition that they help her defect to the Federation. She was tired of fighting Klingon ignorance and stubborn pride, she said. (She was also tired of repairing bodies that, more often than not, would heal themselves given time. She believed that non-Klingons, being more fragile, would finally challenge her.)
By the next year she had defected. After starting as a 48-year-old “intern” at a Federation hospital Lurlenn quickly proved herself a brilliant doctor … who wasn’t fully acquainted with all a Federation hospital’s tools. In 2393 she applied to join Starfleet, and after reviewing her records, including a letter from former Chancellor Martok, Starfleet Academy fast-tracked her for the Medical division, with a rank of Commander.
In 2396 she joined the crew of the USS Vienna, on a long mission to war-torn Solum …
Kids These Days
Chehk’s other children and grandchildren have caused their own scandals.
As the Qegh’s head of Logistics and Transportation, Yalekh serves as “admiral” of the Combine’s ever-growing transport fleet. He spends only about half his time at the fleet’s headquarters in the Qu’Vat colony; the other half he spends touring other transport hubs or, in 2385 through 2388, aiding Romulan refugees before and after the Romulan sun went nova.
In 2374 Yahlekh married one of his pilots, Opar, who bore him Sokohla. Opar died in 2384 in a collision between her freighter and a shuttle piloted (irresponsibly and fatally) by a young Klingon warrior. The Qegh family demanded and won a hefty blood price from the warrior’s family, but some thought Yahlekh would never really recover … until 2387, when Lurlenn introduced him to Romulan refugee Vethun. The two seemed instantly drawn to each other, and held a quick Romulan-style wedding on Vashti in 2388, when Vethun was visibly pregnant. Their daughter Uthenn was born later that year. She developed heath problems at the age of 3, which her aunt Lurlenn apparently solved using Federation technology.
Grandmother Yolgotha refused to acknowledge Uthenn’s, Vethun’s, or even Yahlekh’s existence from that point until her death in 2399 at age 106. Kratak and Ukraw initially refused to accept the marriage, while the teenage Sokohla had nothing but abuse for her stepmother and half-sister. (Years later, as a result of her studies abroad, Sokhola would ask their forgiveness.) Korrd, Chehk, and Aturgh stayed publicly neutral, but privately worried about potential boycotts of the family business. In contrast, Wenneg was unfailingly supportive, Lurlenn and L’thar welcomed the news, and Usek and Tsiv seemed not to care.
The marriage split not only the Qegh family but public opinion. Ugly comments on the dark comm-net and even in official news programs prompted Federation Ambassador Worf to reveal that an unnamed aide had Romulan ancestry and implored the entire Empire to “separate the lives of the Romulan people from the atrocities of their defunct Empire.”
Despite this furore Yahlekh, Vethun, and Uthenn would continue to live in the Empire, albeit mostly on one of the Qegh family compounds or on Qegh Three.
L’thar, the youngest of Chehk’s children, manages the family’s agricultural resources and production chain, mostly from the main family plantation and processing facilities on H’atoria. He also oversees the workforce of mostly Klingons and indentured or free Atapi; the colonial governor admits that L’thar is the second most important man on the colony, while other residents think he’s off by one.
L’thar never married, but his male “life companion” co-manages the processing facilities and maintains good relations with the locals. Korrd and Chehk have no problem with his “choices”, although they wish he’d married a woman anyway so that the family had more heirs. Others in H’atoria and especially on the comm-net have far more extreme opinions, on both sides, and in recent years L’thar and Kratak and Chehk and Wenneg have had to increase security on Qegh property.
Sokohla didn’t react well to her mother Opar’s death, and years later reacted less well to her father’s remarriage to Vethun and the birth of Uthenn. Whether Vethun being Romulan and her new sister half-Romulan upset her or simply provided another set of insults to hurl isn’t known.
Like her aunt, Sokohla left the family and the business behind in 2393 and went to Bajor to study abroad. What she’s studying is anyone’s guess. While living on Bajor she had a change of heart12 and tenatively began reconnecting to her family, first Lurlenn, then Yahlehk. Relations with Vethun are still … strained.
Reportedly Kratak wants her to return home. Her father, on the other hand, thinks time away from the Empire has been good for her. Klingon traditionalists mock Sokohla’s “studies” as more unruly behavior from the Qegh family … despite even warriors undertaking similar studies abroad.
The Qegh Fleet
Typical commercial ships fill one of the following roles:
- Couriers to carry small packages, sensitive information, or V.I.P.s.
- Escorts or gunships to guard other ships.
- Freighters to ship large quantities of bulk goods.
- Transports to carry more varied cargo or people.
Most of the Qegh family’s private fleet consists of standard, aging transports and refitted gunships from past conflicts. With access to the Tong shipyards, the Qegh have begun experimenting with entirely new designs.
Qegh 1 was Korrd’s personal transport, later inherited by Chehk.
Korrd acquired a vintage DaSpu’13 from a Great House looking to sell its old warships. He extensively refitted the ship with an eye toward creating more space and upgrading obsolete weapons and engines to the best commercially available.
The Qegh 1 has a surprising amount of interior room14, enough for a large hall to entertain guests, small but comfortable cabins to accomodate all the current Qegh family members15 and a few guests, a cabin for the captain, bunks for other crew and servants, and even some cargo space. Thanks to the Federation’s ban on artificial life and some panic selling, he acquired a ship’s A.I. that can fly the ship all by itself, although Chehk prefers to keep a crew of five: a captain and four lieutenants.
The weapons, shields, and warp engines on the Qegh 1 compare favorably to those on the newest escorts in the fleet.
Toron Kivra class from Star Trek Online ® & © 2021 by CBS Studios Inc.
Model by Kenneth Lui.)
Qegh 2 is Kratak’s personal transport.
It was meant as a prototype for a fast, light courier and personal transport, similar to the Federation’s Danube class Runabout. What Kratak got looked a little too aggressive for a businessman selling medical and recreational drugs.
On the plus side, the advanced engines propel the ship at a maximum speed of Warp 8. Weapons are two disruptor cannons. Shields are comparable to a Runabouts'.
Despite its aesthetics, the Qegh 2 internal layout mostly resembles a Runabout. In the cockpit, two forward stations accommodate a pilot and a second crewman; a central station immediately behind offers a tactical display for a captain and/or tactical officer, plus auxiliary stations port and starboard for engineering, sensors, communications, navigation, or information retrieval. A central passageway provides acces to a transporter alcove, ship stores, and a door that opens onto a spacious aft compartment that converts into a cargo hold, meeting space, or with a few modifications living quarters.
In the early 25th century the Klingon military used the ship plans to develop their Kivra class runabout, adding a torpedo launcher.
(Image from ex-astris-scientia.org.16)
Qegh 3 serves as Yahlehk’s personal transport and his, Vethun’s, and Uthenn’s home away from home.
Yahlekh and his designers meant the Qegh 3 as a prototype for a well-armored and well-armed freighter with no need for separate escort gunships. Cost overruns made the ship impractical to manufacture and deploy across the fleet, but Yahlekh’s habit of flying alone into frontier space makes the Qegh 3 an ideal ship for him.
Despite looking exaxtly like an archaic freighter, Qegh 3 packs some serious cutting-edge defensive and offensive power. The forward hull contains the main bridge, a cabin suite for Yahlekh, Vethun, and Uthenn, thirty crew bunks, and a roomy common area that can double as a cargo hold or with some quick modifications additional passenger seating. It’s equipped with two retracting medium disruptor turrets, one on either side of the forward hull, with a full 270° field of fire, and a main deflector dish. This hull can detach from the rear hull and fly with auxiliary impulse engines. It has independent life support and enough emergency power to get from one end of most solar systems to another. While originally intended as an escape vehicle, Yahlekh regularly uses it as a short-range runabout, cargo tug, and even as a lander after some last-minute modifications.
The rear hull contains the main impulse and warp engines, the main reactor, deflector shield emitters, a pop-up point-defense disruptor system17, eight additional pop-up auto-targeting medium disruptor turrets18 with overlapping fields of fire, two one-man utility shuttles attached to the exterior hull, enough escape pods for the whole crew and then some, an engineering deck that doubles as an auxiliary bridge, ship stores, and a machine shop not quite as good as a replicator. A system of cramped corridors and tubes provide access to the engines, reactor, and other systems inside and outside the hull. Most of the rear hull, however, is a huge hollow space to accomodate standard shipping cylinders. Rather than attach them to the outside like many freighters, the Qegh 3 uses cargo doors to hold them inside the armored hull.
Space is a little cramped, especially in the engine access tubes, but Yahlek’s crew have been with him for years and get along well. Vethun initially caused a stir, especially in that robe, but after a few years she won them over, and she and Lieutenant Kaskeyr Vurn have become close friends.
Qegh 4 was supposed to be Lurlenn’s transport. L’thar sometimes uses it, but mostly it gathers dust.
Kratak bought a decommissioned Batlh and Yahlekh gutted the interior. He replaced the old disruptor turrets with salvaged 23rd century Federation phaser banks that could emit a stun beam. (He knew Lurlenn well.) He also augmented the weapons with a point-defense disruptor system17 and installed modern shield emitters, impulse engines, and warp engines. The warp core delivers far more power than those systems need, to anticipate whatever devices Lurlenn might add.
Yahlekh had planned to outfit the interior with an oversized medical bay in addition to a cargo hold and cabins, but after Lurlenn’s defection to the Federation he left those decks empty. (Chehk and Kratak both vetoed his idea to give it to her anyway.)
As it stands it’s ill-suited for cargo due to its few narrow airlocks. L’thar used it once to repatriate some Atapi to their original home planet and once to transfer workers to a new farm after he automated a Zilm’kach orchard. The seats and other amenities he installed remain, so it may evolve into a sort of space bus.19
This … ship belongs to no one.
Korrd picked up this ship in the same lot as the DaSpu’. Unlike Qegh 2 this warp-capable craft has only a cramped two-seater cockpit and a small area to sleep and eat. Originally larger ships carried these into battle so that warriors could gain their own glory strafing the main target’s fleeing crew … or make a hasty retreat if the battle turned against them.20 Like other gothic monstrosities of the early 23rd century this style of “raider” favored form over function and style over substance. The wings serve no purpose but to make the ship look bigger; even in the upper atmosphere of a planet they would fall off or burn away. Similar ships made after the First Federation War would forego the insect-like details for a more streamlined and functional teardrop shape … or a more brutal mass-produced “flying brick” look.
After restoring it to its former glory and retrofitting it with the best technology a sensible amount of money could buy, Korrd offered it to Chekh, who declined. When Kratak wanted a Runabout, Korrd offered him this, and Kratak laughed all the way to the Tong shipyards. Kratak’s wife and children refused more diplomatically but just as firmly. Lurlenn refused in no uncertain terms. Yahlekh accepted it to humor the old man, only to return it after his wife’s death because the idiot who killed her piloted a ship much like this one. Sokohla flew into a rage when Korrd offered her the ship, for the same reasons as her father. L’thar smiled and asked what does a farmer want with a starship. This left Vethun and Uthenn, whose existence Korrd’s wife still would not acknowledge.
Qegh 5 still sits in the hangar. Like the elderly warrior who once flew it, it’s ready to fight off pirates (and then tactically withdraw), but has no master to serve and no battles to win.
We believe our informant said “She’s a [CENSORED] Romulan!” ↩︎
A non-Klingon critic once described the taste as “half the turpentine, and only the slightest hint of vermin.” ↩︎
Chehk is 5’ 11’’/ 180cm; Korrd is 5’ 9’’/ 175cm and shrinking. ↩︎
Elsewhere in the Empire, Martok’s order had the same effect as freeing slaves after the First American Civil War and freeing Russian serfs in 1861: the “freed” people owned nothing and had nowhere to go but back to their former owners who paid them as little as they could. ↩︎
Based on an idle musing from Lurlenn who wished her homemade medical tools were lighter but no less durable. ↩︎
Aturgh used to manage Logistics and Transportation before Yahlekh took over; his long hours managing schedules and mechanical problems contributed to the failure of three marriages and estrangement from his son. (Some say Yolgotha’s incessant criticism of his wives didn’t help.) Aturgh and Chehk’s younger sister K’okotha left home at 18, and only contacts the family when her latest marriage or get rich quick scheme fails. ↩︎
Which means Verthun “the Vigilant” of “house” Derrok. (I’m leaning on “beta canon” for these naming conventions.) Her family were working class, but her father Derrok rose to centurion and thus became the founder of a new, albeit small, petty noble house. ↩︎
Something about Bajor encourages changes of heart, catharses, life-altering revelations, and religious experiences, even among those who don’t ascribe to the Bajoran religion or any religion. ↩︎
Author’s note: I wrote this before I found out that a Da’Spu is canonically 500m long. I’ll simply retcon the statement: the Da’Spu used to consist of the baroque opera house bridge common in that era and lower decks of narrow corridors and cramped nooks, owing to its unusual shape, the central disruptor column, and its 200 year old machinery. Korrd redressed the imbalance: a bridge just as big as it needed to be, more recreational space, fewer and smaller auxiliary weapons, and more modern and compact machinery. It’s still stupidly huge, making one wonder how Korrd got the thing, but beneath the gothic outer hull lies a functioning cargo and luxury ship. ↩︎
Yolgotha ordered Yahlekh’s cabin relabeled “Guest”, and no one has dared change it. Yahlekh has his own ship, so it’s never been an issue. ↩︎
Strategically placed limited range disruptor turrets that can detonate torpedoes at a safe distance and damage shuttles, fighters, boarding pods, and other small craft. A gunner can direct turrets to concentrate fire on a specific target or “whitelist” friendly targets from default auto-targeting. While superfluous on warships and larger vessels, freighters and transports needed them against pirates. ↩︎ ↩︎
Some observers, including Chehk and Kratak, wondered why Qegh 3’s many, many guns remain concealed. Wouldn’t visible turrets prove a better deterrent? Perhaps, but Yahlekh also has to consider pulling into a Federation, Klingon, or independent port bristling with guns. In some cases it pays not to advertise. ↩︎
Author’s note: as with Qegh 1 I didn’t realize a Batlh is canonically 400m long. At that size it’s closer to a colony ship than a “bus”, especially as the Klingon Support Fleet stripped out the main weapons before selling it and Yahlekh gutted the rest of the ship. It was a 23rd century warship, though, so it stands to reason it would lack any airlock bigger than a shuttle bay, which means getting cargo into and out of all that space takes a great deal of time and effort. (Here I assume cutting into the hull has some structural integrity implications, else why use these old hulks at all.) ↩︎
The merchant who sold Korrd this ship claimed it was the same one future Chancellor L’Rell stole to rescue Voq from the stricken USS Shenzou. Korrd produced a provenance tracing its registry back to an elderly warrior who mostly used it to scare and annoy his neighbors. The merchant revised his price sharply downward. ↩︎