When we first meet K'Ehleyr in "The Emissary" it's clear that they know each other well and she tells Worf that there is unfinished business between them. For years I have wondered what their story was. This fanfic is my attempt to explain how they met, fell in love and why the parted all those years ago.
"As I see it, we have some unfinished business, you and I…"
K'Ehleyr was running across the campus of Starfleet Academy. She was silently chastising herself while trying to balance the bag slung over her shoulders and navigate the maze of pathways, buildings and greenspaces. It seemed that no matter how hard she tried, she was late to everything. Well, in reality, she hadn't tried very hard this time. She'd been up most of the night with a group of cadets at the local bar and was paying the price this morning.
Finally she'd found her class. It was already in session, of course, so she had to sneak in and try to find a seat. And, of course, the only one left was right at the front. She sat down as inconspicuously as she could, opened her bag and began rummaging through the mess of things inside it.
K'Ehleyr was so focused on her own tardiness that she didn't notice the student next to her. Unlike her, he had been there to get a seat in the front of the class before it even began. He had been intently focused on the lecture, until the late and unorganized woman slid into the seat next to him. His first instinct was to be annoyed, that is, until he looked at her. At first sight, K'Ehleyr took Worf's breath away. He did not want to stare, but couldn't take his eyes off her. He spent the rest of class stealing glances out of the corner of his eye. Who was she? What was she doing here? She was obviously Klingon, yet her features were more subtle than his. Worf could feel his heart pounding in his chest; he had never had such a visceral reaction to a woman before and it was both unsettling and exciting.
The lecture went by in a flash. Worf looked down at his padd and realized he'd not taken any notes since the woman sat down next to him. That was not like him at all, especially since he'd been looking forward to this one class in particular. It was a class on Klingon political history, and since it was not often that Starfleet Academy had classes on Klingon culture, Worf was eager to take it.
The students began to file out. Worf wanted to say something to her, but he had no idea what. Introduce himself? Ask her name? Ask her to marry him? Well, perhaps that would be a little too much. Indecision got the best of him and before he could put a sentence together, she was gone just as quickly as she'd appeared.
The next time class met Worf was ready. It was not every day that another Klingon student appeared on the campus of Starfleet Academy. Actually, it had never happened before to his knowledge. So Worf knew he had to learn more about the beautiful woman in his class. She didn't wear a cadet's uniform, which wasn't completely unheard of, but unusual still. He sat in the same spot in the front of the class, but to his dismay, the young woman was on time today and found a seat in the back.
Today's lecture was on the power struggles of the early dynasties. Worf decided to put the woman out of his mind and focus on the subject, for now.
"So, during the Mek'Lova dynasty, the main rivalry to his Imperial claim came from the House of Komah," the instructor said, "This blood feud lasted 3 generations and brought all legislative progress to a complete standstill"
"But isn't that the story of Klingon politics throughout their history?" came a voice from behind him. Worf turned around, it was her, "There is always some blood feud that keeps anyone from being able to do anything productive. It's a wonder they were ever even able to achieve spaceflight," her voice was sarcastic and almost contemptuous.
"Interesting observation," the professor said, "Anyone care to rebut?"
Worf had to speak up, he couldn't believe a fellow Klingon would say something so disloyal, "That's a common argument but it has very little basis in fact. Honor demands that a blood feud be met regardless of what else is going on. Even though the central government may have been at unrest, it does not mean that the rest of the society was incapable of functioning."
She rolled her eyes, "If the head of the government is willing to completely abandon its duties just because of a misunderstanding over the ownership of property, then what does the say about the priorities of the rest of the society?"
Worf responded, "The reasons for the blood feud have never been known for certain, you cannot reduce it to a mere squabble over –"
The instructor interjected, "It would appear that there are some of us with more in-depth knowledge of this period of Klingon history than most. And with all issues of politics, motives and are highly debatable. What we do know about Mek'Lova is…"
Worf's attention wandered again as the instructor continued. How could she, whoever she was, say those things? Klingons revered the Mek'Lova-Komah blood feud as the most important one in history, the one that set the precedent for every other quest for vengeance that came after it. At least, Worf had read that Klingons felt that way. Who was this woman to question that?
Meanwhile, in the back of the room K'Ehleyr shook her head. Whoever he was, he was just another Klingon blindly following honor and tradition without putting an ounce of common sense into anything. Typical.
"So you disagreed with her opinion, then?"
"Yes!" Worf said emphatically, "It goes against everything that we believe about that period of our history."
Erdok took a sip of her drink and responded to her lunch partner, "That does not mean her opinion is irrelevant. Her conclusions seem logical."
Worf shook his head, "This is something that goes beyond logic."
"Since knowing you," Erdok replied, "I have found that many things about Klingons go beyond logic."
"Is that an insult?"
They continued their meal in silence, though it was more comfortable than awkward. Worf was a solitary man, and honestly he preferred it that way. He had just begun his 3rd year at Starfleet Academy, and outside his Parrises Square team, he did not have many companions. Erdok was an exception. She was a Vulcan female Worf had met during his first year astrophysics class. They'd developed an unusual friendship based on a combination of mutual respect and curiosity. Erdok found Worf fascinating; he was unlike anyone she'd ever known. A Klingon who'd spent nearly his whole life among Humans and who'd decided to spend his life in the Federation while still trying to uphold Klingon values and traditions. Conversely, Worf enjoyed the no-nonsense approach of the Vulcan woman. He did not have to worry about saying the wrong thing and offending her. She was straightforward with him and he was the same with her, though sometimes her bluntness left him dumbfounded.
"I am taking a course on interspecies sexuality, I think you would find it most intriguing."
Worf coughed. This was one of those times, "Me? Why is that?"
"As a Klingon living amongst aliens, the odds are that most of your sexual encounters will be with non-Klingon women. The course could be very informative."
There was that Vulcan straightforwardness, "So why are youtaking it?"
"I find the subject very interesting," she said, "I think I myself would like to experience interspecies mating someday."
"Well, I plan to marry a Klingon woman, so interspecies mating is of little interest to me."
"Is this woman in the class you spoke of a possibility?"
Worf shook his head, "I do not even know her name. Besides, I think our opinions on our culture are very different. I want a traditional Klingon wife."
"For a man who lives the way you do, your attachment to Klingon tradition seems misplaced."
"Another insult?" he asked.
"No, another observation."
Today was the fifth meeting of the Klingon political history class. And just like nearly every class before it, it included an argument between K'Ehleyr and the closed-minded Klingon in the front row. This time the instructor asked the two of them to remain after everyone had left. K'Ehleyr was not in the mood for a lecture from a teacher, she silently told herself she'd keep her mouth shut from now on and just let him spout off unopposed.
The instructor of the class, Dr. Fordham, was a human male who'd spent many years amongst Klingons living and working on Khitomer. He'd left the colony only days before the Romulan massacre that killed all the inhabitants save for Worf. After the massacre he returned to help the colony rebuild and now taught at the Academy. He'd asked Worf and K'Ehleyr to speak with him for a moment to get a better idea what was driving these two.
The two stood before him, neither one looking at the other, "I'm going to get right to it," Dr. Fordham began, "Tomorrow I am introducing an assignment, member of the class will pair up and write the history of their partner's life using the style of Klingon poem or song."
"So why are you telling us this now?" K'Ehleyr asked.
"I am making you two partners."
"Sir, I must ask why. Is it simply because we are both Klingon?" Worf asked.
"I am only halfKlingon," K'Ehleyr said defiantly.
"Not entirely," Fordham began, "It's been interesting watching you two argue about virtually every topic I bring up in class. I took the liberty of reading your biological profiles, and for two people who seem to be unable to agree on anything, you have very similar backgrounds. You, Worf, are quick to defend anything Klingon, good or bad. Whereas you, K'Ehleyr, are ready to contradict it all with the same voracity. I'm willing to bet that your zealousness both for and against the Empire comes from the same place. And I'm assigning you two to learn everything about one other to discover why."
"So you're using your class on politics and history to perform a social experience on us?" K'Ehleyr folding her arms across her chest to show her clear annoyance at this.
"Yes," Dr. Fordham said definitively.
"Fine. Is that all?" she asked.
"Yes." Fordham replied again.
K'Ehleyr slung her pack over her shoulder, rolled her eyes at Worf, and left.
"Nothing to say, Cadet?" Fordham asked Worf.
"She is going to make this very difficult."
"Oh, who knows? You might find you actually like her."
Worf was uneasy by the message he'd gotten from K'Ehleyr. She wanted to meet at the sparring range to begin working on their assignment. Reluctantly he agreed, but this was certainly not the way he'd completed any other work in his classes at Starfleet. He hoped they could be done with this quickly so he could move on.
The Academy Sparring Range was a series of mini- holosuites designed to allow cadets to practice hand to hand combat in a variety of settings. Worf had been there many times before on him own to practice his own skills. When he arrived the cadet working at the front desk told him that K'Ehleyr had reserved suite #14 and was already there.
The doors slid open and there she was. The setting was fairly simple, it looked like a replica of a communal square that could be found just about anywhere in the Klingon Empire. K'Ehleyr was doing something he was not familiar with. He watched her for a moment, her eyes were closed and her body moved rhythmically, arms, legs, hands, all in very deliberate yet graceful motions.
Worf finally spoke, "What are you doing?"
K'Ehleyr stopped and turned toward him, "Surely Mr. Klingon has heard of mok'bara?" she answered with a mocking tone.
Worf hadn't heard of it, but didn't want her to know that, "So what is it you plan to have us do here?"
"My father used to say that you can learn everything you need to know about a man when you're engaged in combat with him," there was a pair of bat'leths nearby. K'Ehleyr picked them up and handed one to Worf.
"I do not think it would be a fair match."
She laughed, "I'll go easy on you."
K'Ehleyr wasn't as tall as Worf, but she was close. He initially thought his size and strength would have her beaten in minutes, but she proved him wrong quickly. She parried every blow with ease and moved as if she knew exactly what he was going to do before he did it. Worf found himself on the defensive before finally stumbling to the ground confused and embarrassed.
K'Ehleyr stood over Worf, the tip of her blunted bat'leth centimeters from his nose, "Where did you learn how to fight?"
"You've beaten me so what does it matter?"
K'Ehleyr stepped back and let him up, "We're supposed to be learning about one another. So, you knock me down and you get to ask a question. I knock you down and I get to ask one."
Worf signed. She was not going to make this simple, "In places like this, mostly."
"Yes," he admitted.
"I can tell. Your form is perfect, technically speaking. But there is no feeling, no instinct. It makes you very predictable. I could have had you down in half the moves."
Worf narrowed his eyes, "And what makes you such an expert?"
K'Ehleyr smirked and raised her weapon, "You haven't earned a question yet."
They volleyed again, this time Worf tried to not be so "technical" as she put it. It backfired, and this time she did indeed have him down in half the moves, "Okay, next question. How is it that someone who knows the history of the Klingon Empire backwards and forwards has such a poor handle on the bat'leth?"
"I am just out of practice," he said, rubbing his arm. That was a lie, he was last here just a few days ago, "I have an excellent handle on the bat'leth. I successfully completed both Rites of Ascension by the time I was 15."
There was that mocking laugh of hers again, "I was done by 12. And completing the Rites does not make one a good warrior, anyone can complete them. So why were you fighting computers instead of other Klingons your age?"
"I was raised by Humans, first on the small colony of Gault and then here on Earth. My parents died on Khitomer when I was 6 years old. I was adopted by the Starfleet officer who found me. My Human parents have always supported and encouraged the exploration of my Klingon heritage."
"Now we're getting somewhere."
"Since I do not seem capable of besting you, will you grant me a question anyway?"
"Sure, why not."
"How did you get so good?" Worf asked, now rubbing his shoulder.
"My father's Klingon and my mother's Human. He was always so worried that being part Human would be a disadvantage for my brother and I, so he made us train incessantly. Against each other, against him, against anyone he could find. But never against a computer. Klingons fight with their hearts, not their heads. You must be able to feel your enemy and get inside of their heart to defeat him. You can learn technique from a computer, but not the heart."
"Did you grow up on the Homeworld?"
"No, though I have been there before. We lived on a small colony elsewhere in the Empire. We were nobodies but my father acted like were descendants of Kahless himself. He had too much pride for his own good and put too much faith in his people and their ways."
Then K'Ehleyr he remembered from class was coming out, "A faith you do not share," Worf commented.
"You see the Empire from the outside and have a romanticized view of it all. I've seen it from the dregs of a poor off world colony. Believe me; it loses a lot of its shine from that angle."
Now it was making sense, "I think this is why Dr. Fordham wanted us to work together."
"Well, if he thinks you're going to convince me to worship the Empire the way you do then he's mistaken," K stood and picked up her weapon again, "I'm giving you too much easy information. You've got to fight if you want more."
Several weeks went by and Worf and K'Ehleyr fell into a routine of arguing in class and fighting it out at the sparring range. Worf had been very skeptical of her method of getting to know one another, but it had worked surprisingly well. And to his benefit, he was improving his combat skills as well. Between blows they'd learned a lot about each other. There were the basics; K'Ehleyr was taking courses as part of the training program for the Federation Diplomatic Corps and Worf was on the officer track at Starfleet Academy.
More than that, though, Worf now knew how hard it had been for her growing up half-human in the Klingon Empire and K'Ehleyr knew how hard it had been for him growing up Klingon amongst Humans. Dr. Fordham had been right; their opposing views on Klingon culture came from the same place. They were both outsiders, but where Worf longed to be a part of it, K'Ehleyr had no desire to be.
Out of their contentious beginnings, a mutual respect began to develop. They both looked forward to their meetings now, which surprised K'Ehleyr most of all. She had grown tired of the same old "Honor this, honor that" rhetoric that Klingon men loved to tout and usually stayed away from them. But there was something about this one that was… different.
Worf got there before K'Ehleyr this time and decided to try a little mok'bara to warm up while he waited. A few minutes later, she came in with an excited look on her face, "Don't fuss at me for being late, I've got a surprise for you."
"I have grown accustomed to you being late," he replied.
"Take this," she reached out and handed him a bat'leth. Worf went to grab it but was shocked at the weight of it. He ran his fingers along the blade.
"This is real," Worf said.
"Cadets are not supposed to spar with deadly weapons unless supervised. Where did you get this?"
K'Ehleyr smirked mischeviously, "I'm not a cadet. And the less you know about where I got it the better, seeing that you are one. I think you're ready for your next lesson. A warrior cannot truly train for battle unless there is real risk and real bloodshed."
"I cannot injur you, K'Ehleyr," Worf said cautiously.
"Aw, are you worried about me?" she teased.
"I am worried that I will get in trouble."
"Well, I promise to be a big girl if you somehow manage to hurt me and not run and tell anyone."
Worf had no idea why but K'Ehleyr was right. Maybe it was the weight of the real sword in his hands as opposed to the blunted ones. Maybe it was the way the metal gleamed or the fact that every time he swiped close to her he knew he had the potential to kill her. His heart was racing faster and he could feel his blood pumping in his veins. In one move, K'Ehleyr's blade got close enough to slice through the arm of his uniform and drew blood from his flesh. That sent Worf reeling. He felt alive, powerful and uninhibited. Suddenly, his nose was filled with a scent he'd never smelled before. It was intensely intoxicating. Moments later, for the first time, Worf had K'Ehleyr on the ground. He stood over her, panting breathlessly as his body came down from the high it had just experienced.
Worf collapsed to his knees next to K'Ehleyr. She winced as she sat up, the fall had been hard and her ribs were sore, "Well, you did it. How did that feel?"
"I felt…" Worf struggled to find the words, "Like I was outside of myself. And then there was this sensation that came over me. It was like nothing I've experienced before. It was amazing."
"You've been practicing for years but you've never experienced real battle and the feeling it gives us. It's like a drug that we crave when we haven't had it. We become like wild animals working on instinct instead of intellect. The emotional release, the euphoria… now you see why fighting and sex can be one and the same for Klingons."
"Yes, yes I do," Worf thought about the scent and suddenly knew what it was. Klingons had evolved with a very strong olfactory sense, and still used it in combat, hunting and mating. So was the scent from the heat of combat or because he was attracted to K'Ehleyr? Looking at her now, even with her hair disheveled and sweat on her brow he thought she was more beautiful than he'd ever seen her before. Perhaps it was the latter.
"Worf," K'Ehleyr began in a serious tone, "Why did you join Starfleet?"
Her question took him out of his introspective moment and brought him back to reality. Worf sighed and thought before answering, "There are several reasons. It is… complicated."
"You know I can't let you off that easily."
"By your rules I am the one who has earned a question, not you."
"Alright, she conceded, "Ask away."
"Why would someone with so little regard for the Klingon Empire want to be a diplomatic representative of it?"
"It's complicated," K'Ehleyr said, once again teasing him.
"Okay, okay," she shifted her body to get more comfortable, "Serving the Empire would make my father happy. This role feels like the best way for me to bridge my mother's culture with my his. Maybe doing this work will help settle the constant inner turmoil that I feel. When I am with Klingons I am too Human. And when I'm with Humans I'm too Klingon. Maybe this will make it okay for me to be both."
"What does your father say about it?"
"My father is dead. But he was honorable until the end, you would have loved him."
"You are mocking him," Worf said, commenting on the change in her tone of voice, "You mock and make jokes to cover up your real emotions."
"Well if anyone is qualified to speak on covering up emotions, it's you. I think all that time you spend with your Vulcan friend has rubbed off on you. You hide just as much as I do."
"You want to know why I joined Starfleet? The real reason?"
"Because I knew that this place would accept me. My parents always encouraged me to pursue my Klingon heritage and when I was 15 they arranged for me to go back to Qo'noS to complete the Rites of Ascension. I stayed with some distant relatives they'd located and it was… horrible. My ways were too Human and I did not fit in. Even when I completed the Rites they still did not think I was worthy. So I ran away to the hills where I stayed for three days without any food. I do not know if it was real or just the delirium of starvation, but I had a dream that Kahless told me I'd do something no other Klingon had done before. My human brother had just been kicked out of Starfleet Academy and that upset my father very much. So I decided that I could make him proud by joining and becoming the first Klingon ever to do so."
They sat in silence for a moment. K'Ehleyr looked at Worf and saw someone different. He wasn't Mr., Klingon right now he was just… Worf. A young man just as conflicted and vulnerable as she was for essentially all the same reasons. K'Ehleyr had always told herself that a Klingon man would never be any good for her, but she had never met a Klingon man like this one.
Finally she spoke, "You and I really are a mess, aren't we?"
Worf smiled, "I suppose we are."