- Text Size +

Chapter 2: The Fool of Quin’lat

Lt. Marcelino was waiting in the transporter room aboard the Grissom upon Sarek’s return from his mostly unproductive meeting with Talbot. “Welcome back, Ambassador. What’d you think of your first trip to the groundbreaking “Planet of Galactic Peace”?”

As he stepped down from the transporter, Sarek dusted off the grime and sand that had collected on the normally pristine jewels that hung around his neck on a heavy gold band. “It was as I expected to find it, although I believe that the Federation files on the planet are in need of some revision.”

A grin cracked on Marcelino’s face. He’d read the files on Nimbus III that were contained in the computer’s data banks. “I’ll bet. Starfleet files describe the planet as “dry, hot, and inhospitable” -- but I’d be willing to wager a month’s pay that that’s just Starfleet’s euphemistic way of saying that the planet’s about as delightful as Hephaestus’s ass-crack.”

Sarek gave Marcelino a sharp look of disapproval. “I am not at all interested in your opinions concerning either Nimbus III or ancient Earth mythology, Lieutenant. I suggest you keep such poetic notions to yourself in the future.”

Marcelino balked, the grin disappearing from his face. It only took Marcelino about half a second after Sarek had rebuked him for him to remember that the Roman equivalent to the disfigured Greek god of the forge and fire, Hephaestus, was the god Vulcan. In essence, he’d not only belittled Nimbus III and Sarek’s mission there, but he’d also unintentionally made an extremely asinine comparison to Sarek’s home planet that made him sound like a bigoted hillbilly. He swallowed nervously. “Yes sir.”

Sarek folded his hands together at the level of his chest. “Now, if you will excuse me, I wish to retire for the time being. My trip today has been most tiring.” He swooped out of the transporter room, his heavy robes billowing behind him.


Sarek sat down in one of the two chairs located in Esteban’s study. He allowed his elbows to rest on the plush armrests as he held his hands, pressed together with both index fingers pointing upwards, to his lips. His eyes closed as he sought out the peace provided by Vulcan meditation.

“Sarek?” Amanda crossed into the study from the living section of their quarters. She carried a data PADD and a stylus in her right hand. “I thought I heard you return.”

Sarek opened his eyes, exhaling quietly. “Yes, just now.”

“I wanted to know if you wished to include anything in my letter to Spock.” Amanda tapped the stylus against the surface of the PADD. “He’s always…grateful…for your correspondence.”

“No, my wife,” Sarek said shortly, unable to completely mask the current impatience that he was feeling towards her. “As I explained last night, I have nothing to say to him that you cannot say with greater ability. He has no cause to misinterpret your words.”

His eyes closed again as he fought against feelings of dissatisfaction that had long dwelt within him: he was an Ambassador, one of the most skilled that the Federation had ever seen; he could speak at great length and with unparalleled eloquence to the leaders of Federation and non-aligned worlds, yet after all this time, he was still not able to communicate with his own son.

“Sarek, what’s wrong?” Amanda set down the PADD and walked over to her husband’s chair. Normally Sarek projected himself as the ideal Vulcan, a man of stone. Yet now she could hear frustration in his voice, however subtle. She knelt down in front of him, placing one hand lightly on his knee. “Was it really so bad as all that on the planet?”

“I have met an individual such as I never expected to encounter in the diplomatic corp. St. John Talbot is entirely uncouth, with personal grooming habits as foul and unbecoming as his ideas for appropriate manners and methods of discourse between civilized individuals. He lacks both clarity of thought and vision, which prevents him from upholding the true duties of his office. With his appointment as the Federation’s representative on this planet, I believe that the public trust which has been placed upon him by virtue of his position has been sorely betrayed.”

Amanda nibbled softly on her lower lip upon hearing Sarek’s words. Vulcan culture was based on the ideals of steadfast service to the people. There was no greater condemnation within Vulcan culture than to say that an individual had betrayed the virtues and trust of public society. “What do you intend to do?”

One of Sarek’s hands dropped from his mouth, coming to rest on top of Amanda’s on his knee. “I will carry on with my duties, as I must. There is no logical alternative. I have been given a public charge, and I will dispatch that charge to the best of my abilities.”

“Of course you will.” With a small smile for her husband, Amanda cupped a soft hand against Sarek’s jaw, her thumb tracing lightly across his cheek. “I’ll leave you to your meditations.” She stood up, moving so as to leave him alone in the privacy of the study.

“My wife…” Sarek folded his hands once more into the meditative form. “Please inform our son that I hope for his continued good health; that I am grateful that he performs his duties so effectively; and that I expect him to continue doing so, no matter the personal circumstances that may arise between himself and his sa-telsu.”

Looking back over her shoulder, Amanda nodded, understanding the sentiment of the message which Sarek wished to convey. The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, or the one: it was a basic tenet of Vulcan society. “Certainly, my love.”


Up on the bridge, Esteban’s legs and feet stuck out from underneath the science station console. Esteban had always been a science nerd to the extreme: he enjoyed recalibrating his ship’s state-of-the-art sensor array in his free time, and with Grissom doing little else but circling in orbit during Sarek’s diplomatic talks, he had the time today to indulge himself.

A proximity alarm went off at the helm. The ship’s experienced helmswoman, Lt. Jeanne Mori, heard from behind her the loud clatter of a metal spanner hitting the deck plating, followed by Esteban swearing softly.

Sucking on a finger that he had just burned on some unsecured optic fiber cables, Esteban scooted himself out from under the computer console as Mori silenced the alarm. “Status, helm?”

“Captain, sensors have just picked up a Klingon vessel entering our sector,” Mori reported with a tense edge in her voice.

Esteban moved down to the helm, calling up the tactical display on the main view screen. “Marcelino, we get anything from Starfleet about Klingons entering the Neutral Zone today?”

Marcelino swirled around in his chair at the communications station, pulling his earpiece from his left ear canal. “No sir.”

“Put the ship on red alert,” Esteban ordered tersely. “And get Ambassador Sarek up here. I have a feeling that he’s going to want to see this.” Esteban regretted that that Sarek’s talks were going to be ended before they even got started. He wasn’t one to cut and run while on a mission, but he also wasn’t dumb enough to stick around when he knew he was outgunned.

“Sir…” Mori glanced nervously up at Esteban, who was watching with grave and silent reverence the formidable vessel closing in on their position, “…that’s a K’t’inga class battle cruiser out there.”

“I’m well aware of that, Lieutenant.” Esteban straightened himself up. Though he made no outward physical motion, mentally he was crossing himself as he stared at the battle cruiser.

The three political rivals all had an agreement under the Organian Treaty: that none would enter the Neutral Zone without first informing the other two as to the exact nature of the visit and logging a detailed flight plan. The Klingons had blatantly ignored that agreement in this case, which in Esteban’s mind could only mean that their intent was hostile. There was no way that an Oberth class science vessel like Grissom could stand toe to toe in a fight with a B’rel class Bird-of-Prey, much less a K’t’inga class warship.

Esteban had never even seen a K’t’inga warship in real life before today, although he had seen just about all of the record tapes that Starfleet had on the design. In virtually every single encounter that had ever occurred between Starfleet vessels and K’t’inga warships, the Klingons had mopped the floor with the blood of Starfleet’s finest. The closest thing that Starfleet had to a victory against those ships had been a stalemate in 2267 between then-Captain Kirk and then-Commander Koloth. The only time Starfleet Intelligence had seen K’t’inga warships defeated in battle was back in 2272, when the V’ger probe had destroyed three of them in the space of a few minutes.

The aft turbo lift doors opened and closed with a soft “scheewoop” as Sarek stepped onto the bridge. “What is our situation, Capt. Esteban?”

Esteban gestured towards the view screen. “See for yourself.”

Sarek took in the image of the warship, which would shortly be entering weapons’ range. He then turned his gaze back to Esteban, his facial expression a perfect picture of tranquility. “Why is Grissom on alert status?”

“Ambassador,” replied Esteban with a fair amount of disbelief at Sarek’s calm, “it seems that the Federation’s brought a knife to a gunfight, if you catch my drift.” He pointed towards the sight of the bulbous black nose of the behemoth, which Esteban was certain was about to turn red as the Klingons activated her torpedo systems. “That ship that you see out there…that’s the top Klingon model,” he explained hurriedly. “We use K’t’inga class ships in the Kobayashi Maru simulation at the Academy for a reason. Those things are designed to take out Constitution class ships like the Enterprise. She could eat Grissom for breakfast, and not even realize that she did so.”

Sarek strolled across the bridge to look at the tactical systems display. “She has not armed her weapon systems. How have you determined her belligerency?”

“By simple virtue of her being here unannounced, Ambassador.”

“Did she enter the system while cloaked?”

“No. But then again, she probably didn’t feel the need to, seeing as how she outclasses us ten ways to Sunday.”

One of Sarek’s eyebrows shot up, wondering at current Starfleet tactical training. Clearly Esteban had forgotten one of the most basic tenets of Klingon battle strategy. “Captain, Klingon commanders begin their attack runs with their cloaking devices engaged as a matter of course, without regards to whatever favorable circumstances that might exist. If she had intended to strike, she would not have entered the system in full view of our sensors. I suggest you hail her and discover her true intentions before you accidentally provoke her into taking a more aggressive stance.”

Esteban stared into Sarek’s deep coffee-colored eyes for a few seconds, weighing the wisdom of the Vulcan’s words carefully in his mind. At last he looked over at the communications station and Marcelino. “Alright, try to get her on the horn.”

Esteban moved back down the bridge towards the helm. He stopped by Mori. “But if you see her weapons systems so much as twitch, I want a course plotted to get us the hell out of here at maximum warp. Our shields are no match for those disrupters.”

As the seconds ticked by, Esteban watched an apparently “superhuman” Sarek trying to stare down the belly of the beast. The Ambassador didn’t seem the least bit concerned about their current predicament. Nobody could be that relaxed in a crisis…

Suddenly the view screen blipped as the display switched from its tactical mode to the communication channel. A Klingon with somewhat squashed looking facial ridges and a beard that was just starting to go gray in places appeared on the screen. “This is the Imperial Klingon Ship Kronos One.” The voice was deep, the words slow and clearly chosen with careful deliberation.

Esteban blinked in obvious surprise. The Klingons had sent their bloody flagship out to meet them! Talk about your overkill.

“I am Councilor Gorkon, of the Klingon High Council. With whom do I have the pleasure of speaking?”

Esteban stepped up towards his command chair, so that he could face the view screen front and center. “Captain J.T. Esteban of the USS Grissom.”

Gorkon inclined his head at the introduction. “How may we be of service to our Federation neighbors today?”

“I’d appreciate an explanation, Councilor.” Esteban crossed his arms firmly over his chest, putting on a show of confidence that he certainly did not feel. “You failed to give my government proper notification of your presence in the Neutral Zone. Your actions could be interpreted as an act of war.”

“My apologies, Capt. Esteban. We did not have the opportunity to contact your Federation leaders,” Gorkon responded. The Councilor was putting on a good show for them, in Esteban’s opinion: he actually managed to sound like he was genuinely sorry for his actions. “Kronos One has been peaceably touring parts of the Empire for the past month. We recently departed Nimbus III, but at the behest of General Korrd we returned to engage in negotiations with your Ambassador Sarek of Vulcan, despite the interruption to our tight schedule.”

Sarek stepped down to the main level of the bridge, coming to stand by Esteban. “For the which, you have my gratitude, Councilor, and that of President Roth. I look to our meeting with anticipation, and I hope that it will have a successful outcome for the future.”

Gorkon nodded his head, an action which Sarek took note of. Here was a man who clearly understood the subtle art of diplomacy. “As do I, Ambassador. Until tomorrow.”

The view screen went blank.

Esteban drew himself up close to Sarek. “Ambassador,” he whispered confidentially, “you can’t be serious about meeting with him. This inspection tour that Gorkon says he’s on -- it’s obviously no more than a farce, a chance to beat the war drums.”

Sarek’s straight, upright stance made Esteban recall an image he had once seen of Marcus Junius Brutus, the very pinnacle of ancient Roman stoicism. “As I reminded you the other evening, Captain, the Federation and the Klingon Empire are engaged in treaty negotiations. Until we see clear and intentionally deliberate acts of hostility, we must operate under the premise that Councilor Gorkon came in good faith.” Sarek placed special emphasis on Gorkon’s title, which Esteban had clearly neglected to use on purpose.

“They may have come to talk,” Esteban replied coolly, “but be aware that you’re opening the door for them, Ambassador. I’ve never known the Klingons to miss an opportunity to establish a beach head, and this time they’ve brought an awfully big flag with them.”


The next morning Amanda helped Sarek dress into his full ambassadorial regalia. The robes of black and russet were so cumbersome that they required two sets of hands to properly secure them. “You are sure you want to wear these? The planet’s surface temperature is hot, even for you.”

Sarek buttoned the last of the tiny fastenings on the stiff, inky collar. “I am certain. As established by my people without exception, these are the appropriate garments for diplomatic functions. Councilor Gorkon is an important figure within the Empire, and I will not allow planetary conditions to dictate my mode of attire.”

Amanda clasped the golden necklace with its polished gems around her husband’s neck. She fixed her eyes firmly upon those stones, unable to meet Sarek’s gaze. “Please take care, dear. I don’t want anything to happen to you.”

Sarek slid a golden ring with a large square cut ruby onto the middle finger of his right hand. “Your fear is not logical, my wife.”

Amanda pulled Sarek’s right hand to her mouth. She kissed the knuckles of his fingers. “Maybe not, but sometimes it’s hard for us mere mortals not to worry about the fates and fortunes of the gods.”


Before he entered the main reception hall in the Klingon diplomatic office of Paradise City, Sarek took a few precious moments to dust off the jewels of his necklace until they glistened with their usual luster. It seemed that it only took a handful of minutes outside for the pervasive sands of Nimbus III to tarnish the highly polished surfaces of those stones.

Sarek secured the heavily wrought door of metal behind him. It was considerably quieter inside the hall than it was without, but even stolid Klingon architecture could not entirely block out the howling of the eternal winds that plagued the planet.

There was nobody waiting in the hall to greet him. As his eyes slowly adapted to the gloom, Sarek was able to see the glint of metal on the walls. Though such objects were banned on the “Planet of Galactic Peace,” here yet was displayed a varied collection of weaponry: mighty bat’leth battle swords, kut’luch and qhonDoq assassin knives, d’k tahg warrior daggers, gin’tak spears, mek’leth sword blades, mevak ceremonial knives, tajtiq long knives, yan sparring swords, Klingon and Romulan hand disrupters, and more than a few Starfleet type-I and -II phasers.

A loud rumbling belch announced for Sarek the entrance of the Klingon representative to Nimbus III into the hall. Sarek turned his attention away from the walls, peering into the murkiness at General Korrd.

Wearing a traditional warrior’s uniform, Korrd walked slowly towards Sarek, but his movement had nothing of pride to it. Korrd cut an imposing figure upon his solid, tree-trunk like legs, yet with his large paunch he had the clear appearance of a man who had let himself go to seed many years ago.

Korrd carried two metal cups in one hand and a curiously spiraled bottle in the other. He shoved one of the cups into Sarek’s hands before pulling out the cork of the bottle with his teeth. He spat the cork off to one side of the hall, not caring a wink about littering the premises. “A novelty for you from beyond your Federation borders -- I believe the trader I bought it from called it kanar.”

Sarek watched with narrowed eyes as Korrd tipped the spiral bottle over the drinking flagon he had been given. The thick black liquid, which possessed an almost sickly sweet odor, literally oozed out of the bottle and plopped into the base of Sarek’s cup. After filling his own flagon, Korrd hit the two cups together before drinking deeply of the kanar. Sarek lifted his glass to his lips, but he was barely able to swallow the tiny sip which he took. Despite its saccharine scent, the kanar was bitter tasting: a strange mixture of burned coffee grounds and molasses upon his tongue.

Korrd waited until Sarek had lowered his glass to begin speaking in his harsh, guttural voice. Flecks of kanar from Korrd’s mouth flew through the air and landed on the stones of Sarek’s necklace. “So…the famous Sarek of Vulcan has come to shout into the winds.”

Korrd turned his back on Sarek, and Sarek took the opportunity to quickly wipe his necklace clean yet again.

Korrd whipped around on his heels, training the daggers of his eyes back upon Sarek. “You waste your time here. The Empire will not hear your words.” He let out a callous laugh. “But shout if it pleases you to do so, for today the fool of Quin’lat is listening.”

The dull thump of bone against the cold stone floor broke through the stagnant air like a sounding trumpet. “Tammohlu’ huxKuv ha’dibah!”

Councilor Gorkon had entered the hall.


Chapter End Notes: A/N1: I did not translate the Klingonese in the chapter text because Sarek does not speak the language. In subsequent chapters, I will translate the language in text for the benefit of readers, so fear not.

A/N2: For the record, Gorkon's words to Korrd were "Be silent, honorless dog!"

A/N3: As when I use the Vulcan language in my stories, any mistakes that are made with Klingonese grammar and punctuation are entirely my own. My Klingon skills, such as they are, come complements of the Klingon Language Dictionary, tlhIngan Qummem

You must login (register) to review.