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Chapter 6: A Moment of Great Upheaval

Captain Esteban had always thought that his personal dining room on Grissom was spacious by Starfleet standards. His dining room was easily half again as large as the captain’s dining room on the original Enterprise, which was saying something considering that Oberth class ships were significantly smaller than Constitution class ships. He didn’t mind the size disparity, despite the inevitable jokes made back at Starfleet Command about the implications of the overall size of a captain’s ship, because Grissom made up for it in other areas. Quality over quantity, Esteban felt.

But it seemed that his dining room could never be big enough for him to feel at ease sitting at the same table as a Klingon, especially when Gorkon’s presence had not been formally approved by Starfleet Command. Esteban was a by-the-book man; he preferred to follow regulations to the letter whenever possible. Having a Klingon on his ship without prior approval from Fleet Admiral Morrow was most decidedly against regulations, and was thus a source of much apprehension for Esteban.

He, Sarek, Amanda, and Gorkon were hardly bumping elbows as they took their seats, but the space felt unaccustomedly tight to Esteban this evening -- not so unlike the feeling that one might get after eating a feast that the waistband of one’s pants had shrunk a size or two during the course of the meal.

“So what do you think of my ship, Councilor?” Esteban asked, pride seeping into the tone of the question.

The gaze of Gorkon’s eyes passed over the range of well polished cutlery on either side of his plate. The wine in his glass was white, not red: an inauspicious drink for an inauspicious evening. The liquid was in fact so pale that at first Gorkon had believed it to be water. Biq ngaS HIvje’ (“the cup contains water”) was an old Klingon idiom which described a person or a situation that was totally off or wrong, and by extension inappropriate as well. White wine that resembled water at the table: it was an ill omen, indeed.

Everything at the table, be it the china plates with hand painted design work around the edges, the genuine silver silverware, the crystal wine goblets, the silk napkins elaborately folded into the shapes of swans, seemed obscenely fragile to him. He was afraid to touch anything for fear of breaking it unintentionally. One didn’t see such opulence on Klingon vessels: it was wasteful of precious resources and promoted softness -- two things that were absolutely ruinous for warriors.

Gorkon shifted his weight uncomfortably in his disconcertingly plush chair, for a split second feeling homesick for the much more practical surroundings of Klingon design and decor. “It is…luxurious,” he answered in a carefully diplomatic tone, trying his damnedest to make his response sound complimentary rather than disparaging. “More so than I anticipated.”

“How is that, Councilor?” Amanda asked politely, her head tilting slightly to one side indicating her curiosity.

Gorkon pushed the swan napkin around once in a circle on his plate with a single finger, both fascinated and repelled by it at the same time. “After his visit to the Enterprise, General Kang wrote an account of his experiences on the ship. The Dahar master’s reports failed to capture the lavishness of Starfleet vessels.”

Finally Gorkon lifted his eyes back towards Amanda, his gaze trickling down her form like water falling silently over marble in a decorative fountain, from the sheer cream colored silk veil she wore over her white hair down her long neck and along the line of her shoulders to where the soft lilac material of her dress began at the curve of shoulder and breast. “The design of this ship is most delicate, Lady Amanda.”

The intensity of Gorkon’s gaze caused Amanda to shudder slightly. After a lifetime living amongst Vulcans, she wasn’t accustomed to men looking at her with that kind of barely contained sensuality anymore. Even Sarek didn’t normally look at her that way, except of course when he felt the burning of his blood every seventh year. She glanced over at her husband while blushing, feeling suddenly ill at ease.

If Sarek was in any way aware of the muted desire that was currently passing from Gorkon to Amanda, his own remarks did not reveal that awareness. His voice was as calm and steady as ever. “As you yourself noted earlier today, Councilor, appearances can be deceiving.” Underneath the table, Sarek took one of his wife’s hands into his, intertwining his fingers with hers. “Some things which are delicate are also strong.”

A beguiling wisp of a smile appeared on Gorkon’s face, though it was impossible to tell whether that smile was meant for Amanda or for Sarek. “Well spoken, Ambassador. In any case, I am honored to visit Grissom under circumstances which are far more amicable than when Kang arrived on the Enterprise.”

Esteban snorted silently to himself. It didn’t take much for circumstances to be more “amicable” than they had been during Kang’s visit, considering that Kang had invited himself on board the Federation’s former flagship at the point of a phaser that was aimed directly at Admiral Kirk’s head. “Yes, tonight certainly marks the passing of a new milestone in relations between our two governments.”

Gorkon gently lifted his wine glass into the air. “Hopefully the first of many to come,” he said quietly. The quietness of his voice did little to hide the underlying sadness he felt within him. There he was, making a toast with white wine -- how appropriate, to salute impending failure with such an inauspicious drink. Gorkon knew that the future he hoped for, and that he was supposedly building here tonight, was not going to begin that evening, or indeed any time soon.

What a terrible thing, to have possession of this still secret knowledge! To desire greater communication, to desire peace between two long warring parties on opposite sides of an argument…and not to have that desire fulfilled, thanks to things like ceremony and culture.

Holding his wine glass at the level of his eye, Gorkon peered through the crystal and across the table at Sarek. He turned the glass slowly in a clockwise direction, watching how the motions distorted the image of Sarek’s face through the crystal, while at the same time reflecting back the shape and form of his own visage to his observant obsidian eyes. “Strange that we should pass this particular milestone of cooperation today, of all days…”

Esteban had partially lifted his glass in the air to meet Gorkon’s toast, but he lowered it as Gorkon allowed his thought to go unfinished. “Strange in what way?”

Gorkon smiled somberly. “Today marks what would have been my twenty-fifth wedding anniversary, Captain. My wife was an exceptional woman, and she continues to give me strength, even in death. Raima believed vigorously in the right to self determination and independence. I wonder what she would do if she saw me here.” His mood suddenly turned to one of amusement and he released an easy laugh into the air. “Probably threaten to throw me out of her house while swinging a bat’leth at my head in an attempt to decapitate me.”

Amanda cleared her throat quietly, startled by the Klingon’s candor, and left wondering whether he was speaking literally or not. “It sounds like you two had an…interesting…relationship.”

Again Gorkon laughed. “Raima was a lightning storm born in the form of a woman. Wild. Untamable.” A soft growl emitted from his throat. The mere memory of her was enough to bring back the feelings of desire and pride that he had felt on the day he had finally managed to claim her as his mate. “And utterly impossible to live with for any length of time. I do not think there was a single topic in the universe that she could not find some point on which to disagree with my own opinions.”

Amanda glanced over at her husband, thinking about the heated arguments that she and Sarek frequently had with one another. Strange…Gorkon could just as easily be speaking of Sarek and myself. The names are different, but the story sounds much the same.

“Would you consider your relationship to be typical of Klingon marriages, Councilor?” Sarek asked, his own private thoughts apparently mirroring those of his wife.

“Are you making a study of me, Ambassador? Trying to analyze me with your logic again?” Gorkon responded lightly.

“You yourself called Klingons a people of passion. I merely seek understanding of that culture. I meant no offense by the question.”

“Then I shall take none,” Gorkon answered before taking a sip of wine. “There is a saying amongst my people: jop’ej way’. No good Klingon relationship, be it between two spouses or two friends, or even between parent and child, is without it. A direct translation of the saying would be “lunge and deflect.” The phrase comes from the offensive and defensive movements of two partners sparring with the bat’leth. Of course, not all battles are physical; some are verbal. First one partner attacks, while the other defends. Then the roles are reversed, with the first defending.”

Sarek nodded slightly. “So the concept of jop’ej way’ represents an argument.”

“Not just an argument,” Gorkon answered, “but also encompassing the importance of that sparring, the value that we place upon it, and how it contributes to our sense of self. The verbal duel allows us to continuously examine ourselves, our way of thinking.” Gorkon gave Sarek and Amanda a grin that had a decidedly mischievous bent to it. “There was much jop’ej way’ in my marriage to Raima. I made it a point to be away from her house and in the field performing my duties as often as it was possible.”

“This is not to say that I did not love her, Lady Amanda,” Gorkon continued upon seeing the look of palpable surprise that was written on the face of Sarek’s wife. “Klingons treasure their mates, almost to a fault. They help us to become better warriors. Not to mention they inspire us to improve our reflexes in the face of flying objects.” He rubbed at a nearly invisible scar that graced his left cheekbone.

The obvious sentimentality contained in Gorkon’s words caused Amanda to smile. “You must miss her very much.”

Gorkon nodded once. “I am incomplete without her.”

A steward came into the dining room with the first course of the meal. Seeing the others removing their napkins and placing them in their laps, Gorkon sought to emulate them. Amazing how those swan shapes disappeared at the slightest tug…and completely impractical, like many of the things on Starfleet ships. Gorkon turned his eyes towards Esteban, captain of this wonderland vessel that he now found himself in. “What about you, Captain? Are you married?”

“I can’t say that I’ve ever had the pleasure, no,” Esteban answered as the steward began serving their meal. “Service in Starfleet isn’t exactly conducive to married life. Living space on starships is at a premium; even senior officers’ living quarters would be cramped for two people living together on a permanent basis.”

Gorkon waved a dismissive hand in the air. “Comfort is a matter of degree, Captain. If that is the only matter which stops you…”

“It’s one of the reasons, yes, but not the only one in my case. There aren’t many civilians who find the idea of marrying a member of Starfleet appealing -- the service can be dangerous, and can entail many sacrifices that civilians aren’t accustomed to making. So we find ourselves looking within the ranks for a spouse, but that too provides its own unique challenges, because there is also the matter of the chain of command. Starfleet tries not to make policy concerning private relationships, but it does have to draw the line in certain circumstances.”

“Such as?”

“Well, there are strict regulations on the books regarding who one is allowed to be in a relationship with. No one individual may be involved in a personal relationship with a person in their direct chain of command, either above them or below them. So, for example, the ship’s head science officer can be in a relationship with the ship’s head communications officer, because the two positions are in different chains of command. Neither reports directly to the other. But the same science officer cannot be involved with the ship’s captain, because the captain is the science officer’s direct superior in the chain of command.”

“Why should rank or the chain of command matter?” Gorkon asked Esteban, probing for answers that weren’t immediately apparent to him.

“I believe that the policy exists to avoid a conflict of interest,” Sarek answered, before Esteban had the chance to respond.

“Conflict of interest?” Gorkon now asked Sarek, a blank expression on his face.

“Allow me to use an example to clarify: suppose that two officers, one the direct superior of the other, are in battle together. As you yourself must be aware, there is often a moment that comes where the battle may be won or lost based upon a single decision. What if victory depended upon the superior officer ordering his subordinate lover to take an action that would result in the death of that individual? Would the officer in question be able to give that command, or would the officer hesitate, and in doing so condemn all the other individuals under his or her command to death, either through intent or by accident, solely to save the life of the beloved individual?”

Amanda silently bit down on her lower lip, listening to her husband. She could hear in Sarek’s voice something that neither Esteban nor Gorkon was able to hear: disapproval, even a touch of anger.

“Starfleet is wise to have such a regulation,” Sarek continued. “It eliminates an unstable element from the field of command.”

“An unstable element?” Gorkon frowned slightly. “You mean emotions, correct?”

“Precisely. There is not room in the chain of command for both logic and emotion. Emotion needs to give way to that reality, for the good of all individuals in Starfleet service. The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few or the one. Every Starfleet officer swears to live by certain rules; it is part of being a member of Starfleet. Those who cannot abide by such a reasonable regulation should leave the service rather than risk others with their selfish behavior.”

Gorkon shook his head slowly once from side to side, a thoughtful expression set upon his face. “I am sure there is some wisdom to be found in this policy, Ambassador, or it would not be…but I do not see it for myself. I think, in this respect, our ways are too different from yours.”

Amanda sat forwards in her chair, leaning her elbows into the table as she supported her chin on folded hands. “What is the Klingon policy in such matters, if I might ask?” She asked the question carefully, knowing that for Sarek this conversation had taken a sudden and uncomfortably personal turn: one that was loaded with meanings hidden from Esteban and Gorkon.

“Our policy is a simple one, Lady. There is no rule that governs the heart, nor should we try to do so. Our mythology teaches us that two Klingon hearts beating together are stronger than anything else in the universe. Thus was Kortar, the first Klingon, able to slay the gods who had created him because his wife stood beside him in battle at the gates of Qui’Tu. A man will fight harder and longer on the field of battle for the sake of the lover that fights beside him than he will for any of his other brothers-in-arms, and he will be a greater warrior on account of that love.”

A sad expression came momentarily to Amanda’s face, as she thought about Spock and Jim. How different the lives of her son and his own secret spouse and bondmate could have been, if only they had been born Klingons! They would not have to hide their relationship from others…they could have lived openly together as a couple while still serving together, and lived in a culture where such a relationship was seen as normal and acceptable within that culture’s mores…

Gorkon paused, his head tilting to one side as he considered the best way to explain the matter. “One might even say that such relationships are encouraged, with the approval of the respective familial houses, of course.”

Yes, Amanda thought to herself, how different their lives could have been!

A strange feeling of…unease…began to slowly spread through Sarek’s body. It was a sort of tingling sensation, which was, for the moment, contained to his fingers and hands. Sarek pushed his plate away, his appetite lost. “Councilor, what would happen if two individuals began a relationship that did not meet with the approval of the familial houses?”

Gorkon set down his fork, looking Sarek right in the eye. “It would depend upon how far the relationship had progressed. In the most extreme case the heads of each house would be required to kill the family members for defying the wishes of the house and bringing dishonor to their family names.”

Amanda bit down hard on her lower lip to contain a quiet gasp of horror.

“An unforgiving system,” Sarek stated quietly.

Gorkon held a finger in the air, as if to make a cautious point. “But one which has been well established by tradition. The strictures of Klingon society exist for good reason.”

“I believe I comprehend you perfectly, Councilor.” Sarek gave an understanding nod before he resumed eating, despite the strange tingling sensations that had now spread past his hands into his forearms, and which had begun in his lower limbs as well.

Esteban was the one shaking his head now. “In any case, it is hard to imagine how such an arrangement would work in a command structure.”

“Not so hard as one might think, Captain,” Gorkon said with a somewhat ironic smile. “Your own Admiral Kirk found Kang and the Lady Mara, who was both his wife and his first officer, a formidable set of opponents when they came to the Enterprise.”

Amanda glanced over at Esteban. “It really isn’t a foreign idea to human cultures either, Captain, when you get right down to it. With your interest in classical civilizations, you ought to remember that the ancient Spartans operated by a very similar code of values when it came to love between soldiers in the ranks.”

Esteban gave the ambassador’s wife a polite smile of acknowledgement. “I’d read in your file that you were once a school teacher, Lady Amanda. I hereby consider myself duly taught and reminded by your lesson.”

A look of disbelief came to Gorkon’s face upon learning Amanda’s former occupation. “A school teacher…and now wife to a Federation ambassador. Astounding.”

“Why do you say that?” Amanda asked.

“Such…mobility of position…does not exist within the Empire,” Gorkon explained, his voice taking on, what sounded like to Amanda, an edge of somewhat insincere neutrality. “One’s occupation and career advancement is determined by one’s class.”

Amanda barely managed to contain a grin, wondering what Gorkon would say if he knew that Sarek had been an astrophysicist at the Vulcan Science Academy before embarking on his career in the Federation Foreign Service. “I see.”

“What did you teach, Lady Amanda? I am decidedly curious.”

“Earth History and Literature, primarily.”

Sarek took a sip from his glass, clearing the food from his mouth so he could speak. He was drinking water, not the wine of Esteban’s table: Vulcans did not usually imbibe alcoholic beverages. “You and the Councilor would have much to discuss, my wife, given the opportunity. He is something of an aficionado on Shakespeare.”

“Really?” said Amanda, sounding delighted. “Begging your pardon, Councilor, but I am surprised to learn that Klingons would have heard of, much less read, the works of Shakespeare.”

“What is to wonder at, Lady Amanda? His plays are largely stories of family, love, duty, and honor -- themes which my people never tire of discussing.” A playful expression crossed Gorkon’s face. “Shakespeare himself predicted, in his own way, that his works belonged not just to the confines of his small corner of the world, but far beyond those boundaries. How many ages hence shall this our lofty scene be acted over, in states unborn and accents yet unknown!

Julius Caesar, Act III, scene i,” Amanda instantly responded. She clapped her hands slightly, unable to completely contain her excitement. “Bravo.”

“Of course,” Gorkon said with an amused chuckle, “the Klingon versions of Shakespeare’s works tend to be rather different from the originals. I have read both versions of the complete works, simply for the sake of comparing those variations.”

“Could you give us an example?” Esteban asked rather stiffly, feeling vaguely offended by the idea of a bunch of Klingons altering some of Earth’s finest literature.

“An example…” Gorkon tugged thoughtfully on his chin beard. “Take Romeo and Juliet. In the Klingon version, Juliet is forced to kill Romeo to satisfy family honor after he killed her cousin Tybalt. Of course, after killing her Par’Mach’kai, the only way for Juliet to retain personal honor is to kill herself with the selfsame dagger that she used to kill Romeo.”

“I see,” Esteban replied with narrowed eyes. “Are all of the Klingon versions so replete with…cultural changes?” He had wanted to say “cultural contamination,” but in the interest of diplomacy he was making an effort to not come across as completely insulting.

“To one degree or another; it depends greatly upon the play in question. In the Klingon Julius Caesar, Caesar is not surprised when Brutus stabs him, for Klingons can see in the eyes of their enemies that the intent to kill is there. Frankly, the fact that Caesar did not know in the original that Brutus would betray him is somewhat implausible for most Klingon audiences.”

“I’m curious, Councilor,” Amanda said, sounding far less affronted than Esteban did. Fascinated was a better word to describe her current mood; Gorkon was providing an invaluable peek into the worlds of exosociology and exoanthropology -- two things that were utterly irresistible to the school teacher in her. “Have any of Shakespeare’s plays survived largely intact on your world?”

Again Gorkon tugged thoughtfully on the short gray hairs of his beard. “Henry V has very few changes from the original. I don’t think that there have ever been any ‘altered productions,’ as you might call them, performed on the stage.”

At this point Esteban could hardly contain a scoff of disbelief. “Is that so?”

Gorkon nodded in the direction of Esteban. “The character of Henry V is actually highly regarded on Qo’noS. He is a great leader of conscience who leads his troops to glorious and honorable victory over a pompous and better equipped enemy of superior numbers on the field of battle. Along every step of his journey Henry acts with dignity and nobility.”

Amanda smiled at Gorkon, trying with her actions and words to diffuse some of the tension that had become suddenly present in the room. “It’s easy to see why your people would admire him, Councilor.”

Gorkon tipped his head deferentially to Amanda, appreciating in that moment her graciousness of spirit. “To be plainly honest with you, Lady, the scene wherein Henry seeks to woo Princess Katherine as he is, a simple soldier, is widely felt by my people to be one of the most romantic pieces of poetry in the history of the written word. I am not ashamed to say that I recited some of that scene while trying to persuade Raima to marry me.”

The gaze of Gorkon’s eyes shifted away from Amanda, up towards some corner of the dining room as he imagined Raima standing once more before him, hurling household objects at him as he recited his love poetry. "A good heart, Kate, is the sun and the moon; or, rather, the sun, and not the moon; for it shines bright and never changes, but keeps his course truly. If thou would have such a one, take me; and take me, take a soldier; take a soldier, take a king. And what sayest thou then to my love? Speak, my fair, and fairly, I pray thee..."

It was only the shifting of Gorkon’s eyes away from her that told Amanda that Gorkon was not reciting those words to her. There was an intense sensuality contained in Gorkon’s baritone voice as he spoke Henry’s lines. The tone echoed the one that she heard in her mind’s eye when Sarek spoke to her telepathically. It made a shiver run corkscrew like through her middle.

Gorkon’s eyes closed, temporarily lost to his surroundings as the memories of those greener days came back to him.

If Gorkon was lost from the moment, Sarek was equally so, but for different reasons. In addition to the tingling sensation that remained in his limbs, he was now finding it difficult to focus on the conversation going on around him. It was extremely disconcerting to him; it was unusual for a Vulcan’s mind to wander in the fashion that his was at this exact moment.

“Is that how you see yourself, Councilor? As a modern day Henry V, filled with purity of intention and nobility in your actions?” Esteban asked, quiet sarcasm encroaching into his diplomatic tone.

A few seconds of silence befell the air in the private dining room. Gorkon opened his eyes, silently regarding Esteban. To Amanda the seconds felt much more like minutes than the two or three heartbeats that it actually was.

Gorkon’s response seemed touched deeply by sudden gravity, a sigh escaping from his lips. Esteban’s words served for him as a powerful reminder that they had spent far too long in idle conversation at this dinner. It was time to take their conversation to the heart of why Gorkon was here tonight: to deliver the sentiment of Chancellor Lorak’s position to the current enemies of the Klingon Empire. “I would answer plainly…but I think that you would not like what I have to say.”

Esteban passed a hand through the air, gesturing towards Sarek. “Earlier today the Ambassador wisely remarked that it could not hurt for us to hear you speak your mind. I welcome your answer, however candid it may prove to be.”

“As you wish.” Gorkon leaned back in his chair, folding his arms over his chest. “From where I sit, it does not seem to matter how I think of myself. In our little story, as told from my perspective, I can look in a mirror, filled with satisfaction at my reflection, taking pride in actions which I believe have been and continue to be honorable. But that does not matter here, now, in this moment. You see, no matter how much I may admire or think of myself as a figure like Henry V, when you look at me…when members of your Federation look at my people…you do not see Henry V standing before you.”

The gaze of Gorkon’s eyes flitted quickly over towards Sarek before being directed back at Esteban. “The ways of my people are often at odds with the values of your own society, and so, in less time than it takes to draw a breath, I have gone from protagonist to antagonist in the switch from my viewpoint to yours.”

“I see,” Esteban responded brusquely. “Who then do I and the rest of the Federation perceive you to be, in your estimation?”

A sad kind of expression came to Gorkon’s face. “I believe that it is Richard III that you see sitting at your table tonight. Still a king, yes, but one who is of a completely different character than the noble Hal.”

“If the Federation sees Klingons in that way, there is a reason for it,” Esteban retorted, his mind wandering back to the previous day's attacks in the Mutara sector. “Like Richard III, your people seem to understand the art of deception.”

A sharp glint appeared in Gorkon’s obsidian eyes; at that instant he knew exactly what Esteban was thinking about. Like any trained Klingon warrior, he could see those thoughts in the eyes of his enemy. “You do not trust us…as we do not trust you.” A moment of silence passed as Gorkon sought to remain in better control of his own sense of outrage than Esteban was. “Trust must be earned, Captain, through honorable actions. How can the Klingon Empire and the Federation negotiate a peace when the Federation continues to act dishonorably?”

“The Federation?” Esteban was livid, his face turning a deep shade of red.

“Yes, the Federation. Do you think that Chancellor Lorak and the rest of the High Council can ignore what appear to be war exercises between two Starfleet vessels in a region of space that lays so close to our borders? Only a fool looks over the fence and chooses to do nothing about what he has seen one way or the other.”

“Then you acknowledge that you have been spying on us?”

“We are all spies here, Captain. You spy on Klingon borders with your listening posts and your border patrols and your sensor nets, just as we spy on Federation borders with our listening posts and our border patrols and our sensor nets.” Gorkon set his napkin calmly on the table, smoothing out the wrinkles in the silk material. “And since we are both well aware of these facts, can we not then acknowledge that we do these things when we happen to share company with one another? Must we at this table consign ourselves to play at false dice and act with the cunning of Romulans?”

“I see. So not only do you see us as dishonorable, but you see us as deceptive too?”

“One must never be too quick to judge character. I have yet to form my opinions of the occupants of this table. We are as yet strangers.” Gorkon inclined his head towards Sarek and Amanda before looking back at Esteban. “But I can tell you that many of your leaders are regarded with suspicion on account of past decisions. For example, it is hard to believe the words of the Commander-in-Chief of your Starfleet, Fleet Admiral Harold Morrow. On the one hand he talks peace with our ambassador, while on the other hand he orchestrates the design and production of a new class of warship -- one that is supposed to have transwarp drive and weapons systems more powerful than any ever before equipped on a Starfleet vessel. I even hear rumors that in some circles this Excelsior that has been built is called “the K’t’inga Killer.””

Esteban cleared his throat, partially to cover his dumbfounded amazement at the depth of detail that a man like Gorkon possessed about the Excelsior project. “Rest assured, Councilor, the Federation does not mean to threaten its neighbors. The Excelsior is merely following the natural course of development for improvements to Starfleet vessels.”

Gorkon regarded Esteban for a moment in silence before he made his reply. “When you bait a bear in the ring, Captain, is it not natural to expect that the bear will bite back to defend itself? There is a saying on Qo’noS: Hoch nuH qel -- ‘Consider every weapon.’ It means that, before one takes action, one should consider all of the possibilities…all of the consequences that might result from that action. I can tell you that there are many on the High Council who do not believe that Admiral Morrow considers every weapon. The development of your so-called K’t’inga Killer is proof enough of that.” Gorkon cut a hand angrily through the air, the leather of his gloves crunching softly as he made a fist with his fingers. “How does he think my people will respond? I will tell you: someone, somewhere, who does not have the same patience for the Federation’s lack of foresight in this manner that I have, will respond by researching in secret…to develop a deadlier ship to match the Excelsior. And so the arms race that we find ourselves trapped in will only continue to escalate, and all because men like Morrow do not possess the wisdom necessary for Hoch nuH qel.”

Esteban threw his napkin angrily on the table, the veins in his neck throbbing visibly. “The ancient Romans had a saying too, Councilor Gorkon: Igitur qui desiderat pacem, praeparet bellum. ‘Therefore whoever desires peace, let him prepare for war.’ Two thousand years ago, Publius Flavius Vegetius Renatus unwittingly had the Klingons pegged perfectly.”

Amanda glanced over at her husband. She couldn’t believe that Sarek was just sitting there, allowing the discussion between Esteban and Gorkon to become more and more heated. It was extremely out of character for him: Sarek had always been the one that everyone counted upon to diffuse tense situations in the past. That blasted Vulcan logic of his, while never very endearing, always did cut to the heart of the matter in most diplomatic situations. That logic was much of the reason for why Sarek was one of the finest ambassadors in the Federation.

// Sarek, do something already -- before they think to use their knives for something other than eating! //

Sarek let out a short breath of air, sounding pained. His left hand passed across his chest and drifted down to rest in the lower right region of his ribcage, where the Vulcan heart was located.

“Sarek, what’s wrong?” Amanda darted out of her chair. She had seen Sarek seem to collapse in on himself like this only once before -- on the Enterprise during the Babel Conference, when he was having the fourth in a series of heart attacks that he had experienced at the time.

Suddenly distracted from their argument by the concern and fear contained in Amanda’s question, Esteban and Gorkon also rose from their chairs to look at the ambassador and his wife.

From Sarek’s side, Amanda looked swiftly over at Esteban. “Summon your doctor quickly, Captain. My husband has a past history of heart attacks. I think he may be having one now.”

Esteban strode over to the communication panel in the wall. “Dr. Puri, medical emergency in the captain’s mess.”

Gorkon moved around the table. Despite the difficulty in doing so with his lame leg, Gorkon crouched down on Sarek’s other side. He held a steadying hand on Sarek’s shoulder, keeping the Vulcan safely upright in his chair.

All of the color had drained from Sarek’s face in a matter of seconds. His jaw dropped open and his coffee colored eyes went wide, almost to the point of bulging out of his eye sockets.

“Spock…” he uttered feebly, just as he collapsed into Gorkon’s arms.

Chapter End Notes:

A/N1: I owe a debt of gratitude to Marc Okrand (father of the Klingon language) in this chapter; my knowledge of Klingon idioms stems entirely from his remarkably detailed book "Klingon for the Galactic Traveler."

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