There’s something odd going on in the Klingon Empire. Now, though I love the Federation/Klingon alliance, I don’t mind the war going on in the game. While I intensely hope that by the (preferably far distant) end of this game, the alliance will be fully restored, Klingon culture is organized around conflict between Great Houses due to perceived slights. When the Federation appears to slight the Empire, conflict is believable. But in the meantime, this war seems to be doing strange things to the Klingon Empire. Before STO (in the series & movies), the only non-Klingon we ever saw serve on a Klingon ship was Wil Riker. Through TOS, the Klingons were regularly shown trying to take over the planets of other species. And since Kirk couldn’t be everywhere, we have to assume they succeeded sometimes. One of the big missed opportunities, I think, of TNG was not having any episodes in which the Federation had to deal with peoples conquered by their Klingon allies. Imagine something like “The Higher Ground,” in which the rebel force wasn’t fighting against a planet of the week but the ally of the series. The closest we ever got were the Cardassians in DS9 for a while, but the Klingons weren’t allies then, and that went sideways into other interesting territory.
And yet thought the late 24th century, this conquering Empire had a military filled, as far as we know, only with Klingons. Even on the streets of the First City, the only people who weren’t Klingons were regular cast members. Rome allowed barbarians to earn citizenship through it legions. Britain incorporated descendants of conquered people like Scottish highlanders, Indians (ie the people, of India), and President Obama’s own Luo grandfather in their armies.
Not so, as far as we’ve seen up to Nemesis, with the Klingons. But suddenly, now at this moment when they’re fighting an enemy who can mimic any appearance better than a Changeling can, they have an integrated First City and integrated KDF. Sure, one can imagine that all this diversity existed before, just off-screen.
But imagine a changing Klingon Empire that is becoming more open to other species. Why? Does it have to do with the size or sophistication of these species? Are Gorn just more worthy warriors than the Kirosians (http://en.memory-alpha.org/wiki/Kriosian)? But considering that one can create one’s own alien species and make them a KDF captain, that doesn’t seen that the Klingons are only letting in just a few species. With the Orions, there’s a strong suggestion in the Path to 2409 that they’re using Matron pheromones to infiltrate the Empire. But for others, it appears Klingon culture is changing.
Perhaps under the leadership of Martok and Kahless II, a new less ethno-centric view of honor began emerging. Anyone can be honorable. Anyone has the right to try. Perhaps the alliance with the Federation, though broken for the moment, has affected Klingon culture, teaching them a version of the IDIC. And if so, how popular would that be? Would that be something J’mpoc supports or opposes but is not powerful enough to eliminate? Is the danger of the Undine so great that they Klingons feel they must allow other species into the KDF? If so, are they resentful of having to do so? Are there major group of Klingons that find this inclusion, whatever the cause, to be an affront? And what about the other species? Capt.PFDennis, in several of his missions, has created a Gorn separatist group. Yet we’ve also seen an Empire-loyal Gorn Captain behaving and speaking just like a traditional Klingon sent to DS9 during “The 2800.” What is happening to these cultures that are being incorporated into the Empire? Are they all divided into those who support the Empire and those who hate it? Is there a generational divide between those who were repressed by the Klingons and those who are welcomed into the Empire’s ranks? Are some species welcomed while others are still shunned? What criteria is being used? And how much agreement is there as to what the criteria should be? Also, in this new multi-cultural Empire, are species that are less adverse to, say, finance as Klingons are (see DS9’s “The House of Quark”) or other less supposedly honorable professions, working in those fields now, bringing more order and professionalism to the Empire? Are species that had been limited to those professions in the past now seeking to spread to the KDF or other ways of life limited it Klingons in the past?
Whatever the cause, whatever all his means, the Empire appears to be in a time of change during a time of war. In a culture based on conflict between houses, there is plenty of room for conflict here — both between houses and within them. There is also opportunity for covert Starfleet missions to seek to undermine the Empire. This could be a major change in the Klingons, one that could bring them closer to the philosophy of the Federation even as the two societies are fighting against each other, potentially even leading to the Klingons joining the Federation, if the cards are played right. (Not in the game, I mean, just in the world. Maybe in the next Prime Universe series, which I refuse to say can’t happen.) And both Cryptic and we Foundry authors have many opportunities for such stories to be told.
Of course, some Klingons already have joined the Federation on their own. And that holds its own story potential.