- Text Size +

Chapter 5: Noble Harry of England

Gorkon sat perfectly motionless in the hard, stiff chair that sat opposite the utilitarian desk in Ambassador Talbot’s empty office. How long he had sat there, waiting for Talbot’s arrival, he wasn’t sure. At least twenty minutes, maybe more.

He knew that this was all an act, that Talbot was making him wait on purpose. Talbot’s purpose was all too clear: by making him wait, Talbot was signaling to him that he, Talbot, was in control of the situation…or at least he wanted to be. This entire meeting was about power, and how far that power extended, and over whom.

Gorkon had received a communiqué from the Federation diplomatic office on Nimbus III requesting his presence at 1800 hours prior to his evening engagement on the Grissom. Ostensibly the meeting was required as a diplomatic courtesy, to make sure that protocols were being satisfied. Of course he knew the true purpose for this meeting -- he had known from the instant Talbot’s attaché had stalled in rising from the chair behind his own desk, had seen the small scanning device that was quickly hidden in the palm of the attaché’s hand before the man had greeted him and led him into Talbot’s office. Talbot wanted to confirm that he was not trying to smuggle any secret devices onto the Grissom.

Gorkon’s fingers flexed and curled around the hand grip of his cane as he reminded himself to keep his temper in check. After all, how could Talbot possibly know the severity of the insult that this meeting represented to Gorkon’s honor? He was not boarding the Grissom in an attempt to steal Federation secrets, but to continue what would ultimately be unsuccessful diplomatic talks. His role this evening was not that of a spy, but that of a courier. Lesser men, even some of the warriors under his own command no doubt, would not hesitate to try and bring surveillance devices with them onto a Federation starship. But not Gorkon. He was a man of principle, and as such spying on the Federation tonight had not entered into his mind.

On the other hand…perhaps Talbot did understand the insult that his actions towards Gorkon implied. The oft-ignored dignitary spent more time in direct contact with Klingons than most other diplomats in the Federation Foreign Service, and thus was far more likely to comprehend what his implied distrust meant in the larger context of Klingon society.

If a Klingon had dared to challenge his honor in the way that Talbot dared to do now, Gorkon would not have tolerated the insult, or the fool who had made it. The belly of such a fool would have quickly become a new sheath for the tri-bladed d’k tahg warrior’s dagger that he carried at his side.

But Talbot was not a Klingon…he was of the Federation, that strange old foe with whom the Empire frequently had clashed against in the past. Talbot would be allowed to live, because Gorkon understood that the insult had originated not from Sarek or even Esteban, but from that small, unimportant man, that minor dignitary who wanted to feel more powerful than he was, if only for a short time.

Strange, that he should find himself in a situation that seemed nearly ripped from the pages of one of Shakespeare’s historical plays -- from his favorite play, as a matter of fact, wherein Talbot played the young Dauphin of France, presenting to a newly crowned Henry V a chest of tennis balls meant to signal that the Dauphin thought very little of the English king due to his past, his origins. And all around him were his advisers, encouraging him to answer the challenge, to rise to the occasion, to show that such insults would not be tolerated…urging the king to “play a set” against the old foe in the court of France, to turn the Dauphin’s mock into gun-stones, and to make the weeping people of France curse the foolish prince’s scorn.

Gorkon shook his head…no, this was not the time or the place to make an answer to Talbot’s insult. Even though he saw all around him signs of the gathering storm that Chancellor Lorak warned of, he was not yet ready to commit himself to the course of war that men like Lorak and Chang felt was inevitable. Like that noble English king, Gorkon first needed to be certain that the reasons to go to war were just if honor was to be served and his place in Sto’Vo’Kor assured. As of yet he remained unconvinced by the extremely limited evidence that was currently at hand…

…and so Gorkon gripped his cane ever tighter in his hand and sought to quiet the urgent beating of his Klingon heart; to fight against the instincts and traditions that dwelt within that heart; and to allow Talbot’s insult to go unchallenged. Now, above all previous moments in his life, was not a time to allow the pride that he took in his culture to turn into hubris…

He deliberately turned his mind back to the conversation he’d had with Sarek earlier that afternoon, to recall the lesson that Nimbus III sought to teach them all:

Perhaps it is not for us to change this place. Perhaps it is for this place to change us, however we may fight it. And fight it we do, with our weapons and our clothes and our ceremony! I tell thee, Sarek, I wonder if we have that capacity for change. I fear very much that we do not. Unless some great moment of upheaval strikes us all and forces us to change, I fear very much that we shall all tradition ourselves to death.

No, he would not allow that. Could not allow that. Somehow he would find that capacity for change, learn to embrace the uncertainty that the future brought.

Gorkon heard a soft swooshing sound as the door to Talbot’s office opened and shut. He glanced over his shoulder, looking back at the dumpy looking Federation ambassador to Nimbus III as he entered the room. Gorkon noted that the reek of cigarettes and alcohol did not hang in the air around the human, for a change.

“Councilor Gorkon -- good of you to come.” Talbot spoke in a voice that was as oily as his unwashed hair. “My apologies for keeping you waiting. I was engaged in affairs of state…couldn’t get away. You know how it is.” Talbot gave him the smile of a used-car salesman.

“Of course,” Gorkon answered, his eyes narrowed. He was trying to mask in his voice the contempt that he held for this man, but it wasn’t easy. His vocal inflection had lost some of the studied projection of calm that he tried to use when he was dealing with alien dignitaries.

“A few days ago I saw firsthand how…consuming…General Korrd’s responsibilities were on his time. I can only imagine how busy you must be kept by your own extensive duties here on Nimbus III.”

Some of the muscles around Talbot’s face twitched. Good, Gorkon thought to himself -- now Talbot was aware of the fact that he had not been fooled by Talbot’s little charade.

And it seemed that Talbot saw no further point in continuing the pleasant façade of civility. The in-genuine smile that had been on Talbot’s face faded. “Tell me, Councilor…what do you think of Ambassador Sarek’s proposal?”

Gorkon quietly regarded the hard line of Talbot’s jaw, the sudden air of practicality and cold-hard realism, tinged heavily with sarcasm, which now hung about Talbot’s person. “I believe the idea has merit.”

“Do you really, Councilor? I must say, this strikes me as a change in the Klingon tune that I’ve gotten accustomed to hearing around here since my posting.” Talbot folded his arms across his chest. “How soon do you think your government can start fulfilling its contractual obligations in installing the technology?”

“It would be…premature…to commit to a fixed timeline at this point, Mr. Talbot. There are many details that Ambassador Sarek and I must discuss. And of course both our governments must also secure approval from the Star Empire before we can begin the shipment of Klingon resources to the planet. We cannot act without the cooperation of the Romulans, which is required by the terms of the Treaty of Organia.”

Talbot leaned back into his desk, rolling his eyes. “Can we please dispense with the bull, Gorkon? You may have fooled Sarek into believing that you are interested in this project, but I know you Klingons better than that. I’ve gotten quite an education from Korrd when it comes to Klingon opinions of this planet.”

Gorkon gave Talbot a cold smile, a dangerous flash of his teeth. “Well, it’s nice to see that Korrd is capable of doing something besides dipping his flagons in his tankards of bloodwine. Just what is it that you think you have learned from our esteemed General?”

“That the idea of cooperation between our two worlds is a laughable idea. Oh, we can try to be friends…but in the end our differing worldviews will get the better of us. The gods of our two worlds have seen to that.”

Gorkon pressed his weight into his cane, struggling against the weak muscles of his bad leg to stand in a single fluidic motion. “I do not think that you have spent enough time around General Korrd, Mr. Talbot.” He grunted quietly as he finally managed to get to his feet. “Otherwise you would know that the Klingons killed their gods eons ago.”

Talbot pushed away from his desk, circling quickly around in front of Gorkon to block the Klingon’s path out of the office. “Why are you here, Councilor? Why do you insist upon bull shitting us like a Romulan?”

For a moment, Gorkon’s body tensed. It was taking every fiber of his inner discipline not to knock Talbot on his ass at this exact instant. “I am here on account of the future, and because of the past. I am here for my daughter Azetbur…”

Gorkon stepped around Talbot, limping noticeably as he went. “…and for my sons. For reasons I do not think you will ever be capable of comprehending,” he answered with uncharacteristic quietness. “You will forgive me for leaving without your permission…I have an appointment to keep with Ambassador Sarek, and I will not show him the same sort of disrespect that you have shown to me by being late.”


You must login (register) to review.