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The Naked Stars
Qaw'Hoch sutai-Let
The First Keeper of the Warrior Flame

On the Origins of the Klingon Tre-foil
Part 4

Although the actual origin of the Klingon Tre-foil- -the symbol of the Klingon Empire--is lost in the shadowy mists of time, there are many legends concerning when, where and why this universally recognizable symbol was born.

Following a lengthy excavation of a here-to-fore unworked site of an ancient fortified village along the coast of the Northern Islands, the renowned Klingon scientist Aminn vesti-Kabdulh, coupled with legends collected from the area which date to Klingon pre-history, has come up with a new theory of the origin of th Tre-foil, presented to you here for the first time.

In the days when Klingon warriors boarded their mighty ships and set sail upon the inhospitable seas of the Homeworld to battle their enemies, visual recognition from a distance was of vital importance to captains of the ships who followed a clan chieftain during raids or in battle. Flying clan flags or pennants from the single masthead of their ships was not always sufficient, especially during fog, storms, or rough seas. One Northern Island chieftain, K'ammat, decided that his ships should have a symbol that would be visable for many leagues across the vast seas; a sign that would strike terror into the hearts of his enemies and be instantly recognizable by his clan members and his allies.

Since the largest visable object on a Klingon warship was a huge, triangular sail that captured the fierce ocean wind, it was decided tat a suitable symbol be painted onto the sails of his fleet. Legend has it that it was the warrior wife of K'ammat who came up with the idea of a three-pronged tre-foil, the pointed prongs fitting neatly into the three corners of the ship's sail. Originally, all three prongs were straight, the longist pointing toward the sky, from where the mighty wind came, while the other two, shorter prongs pointed to the sea, from whence came life. The three prongs were painted bright red, to represent the blood if their enemies and the center circle was deep black, to represent the Black Fleet, where K'ammat would send his enemies when their ships were sent to the bottom of the sea.

K'ammat immediately has this symbol embalzoned on the sails of nearly one hundred war ships, which ranged not only up and down the coasts of the entire Northern Island chain, bu eventually toward the shore of the Great Island itself. The sight of several score of these ships with the huge black and red tre-foils bearing down in them sent many of their enemies in panic-stricken retreat.

Sea battles at this stage of developing warfare were typically messy affairs, with frequently a great loss of life and limb on both sides of the battle, as well as (and sometimes more importanly) a great loss of ships. Initially, during any given sea battle, there was an exchange of spear and javalin, as well as a flurry of arrows into the enemy ship, with occasionally captapulted rocks and flaming ordinance thrown in for good measure. These latter weapons would tend to severely damage and frequently sink the opponents ship, which would mean fewer trophies for the victorious captain and his crew to bring home. Eventually, warring ships would grapple onto each other, resulting in furious hand-to-hand combat, a form of battle the Klingon warriors favored then, as well as now.

K'ammat was constantly seeking battle advantages that would protect his own warriors and still maintain the ememy ships for trophies. He noted that when the sails if his ships bellied with wind, the lower prongs of the painted tre-foil appeared to curve back, which gave him an idea for a new, formidable weapon. The result was a smaller version of the tre-foil (about the size of a standard battle shield), made of metal and mounted on a stout, eight-foot long staff. The shorter, lower prongs were now curved, one toward the staff and the other away from it and all three blades were razor sharp. This simple new weapon proved immediately successful and was found to be quite devastating in battle.

Following the advent of this new weapon, when K'ammat's ships came up close to an enemy ship, his warriors could, from behind a barrier of raised sheilds, reach across the intervening water and with the curved blades of the extended tre-foil catch and pull away enemy shields and even snag an unwary enemy and pull him over the side of the ship. The curved blades could also cut through a sails rigging, or the sail itself, eventually leaving the vessel unmanageable and thereby virtually helpless. If need be, the curved bladed could also be used as a grapple, to snare the other ship for boarding and of course the longer, straight blade was ideal for stabbing the enemy across the narrow gulf which separated the two ships.

In a very short time, K'ammat became the war lord of the entire Northern Island chain and his reputation for victory meant that the mere sight of the black and red tre-foil cresting the distant horizon frequently caused his enemies to seek retreat or surrender, rather than battle.

When the tide of battle turned from the sea to land, the tre-foil weapon also made the transition, becoming somewhat smaller and attached to a shorter staff, which could be carried easily by foot soldiers. A line of warriors armed with this weapon could even withstand a mounted charge, by kneeling down and bracing the butt end of the staff against the ground. The advancing mounts would be impaled on the long blade of the tre-foil and the line of warriors behind the kneeling group would reach through the ranks of those in front of them and pull the helpless riders from their wounded mounts with the curved blades of the weapon. The riders would then either be trampled to death beneath the hooves of their own beasts, or die by the blade as the victorious army marched ever forward.

Fallen enemy warriors would frequently be dispatched by having the tre-foil thrust into their chest and the weapon would be left there impaling the body to the ground. One story tells that after one long and bloody battle, K'ammats's victorious forces left the plain littered with thousands of bodies, each of them impaled with an inverted tre-foil.

Somewhere around the time that K'ammat and his mighty army were busy trying to conquer the Great Island, one of his sons became disenchanted with his father's goals and with a number of followers left to form his own clan. Apparently this rebel remembered the sight of that battlefield with the thousands of inverted tre-foils and he took this form of the now well known tre-foil as his clan symbol. He felt it was only fitting, as the inverted tre-foil was the last thing his enemies would see as the weapon drank of their life blood. This son, Torak, became a fierce and powerful rival of K'ammat's clan for many years both the original and the invted tre-foil were symbols of power on the Homworld. Eventually, of course, the tre-foil symbol designed by the wife of K'ammat became the universally known symbol of the Klingon Empire.

Since the time of K'ammat and Torak, the inverted tre-foil has always been associated with rebels and with those who disagreeed with the policies of the Empire. A more recent advocate of the inverted tre-foil was none other than the great warrior leader, Kahless, who used it as his own symbol, as can be seen in the ST/TNG episode, "Rightful Heir". In this episode, as the awakened Kahless sits upon hs ancient throne, it can be noted that on each arm of the throne, the tre-foil symbol is inverted.

Following the death of Kahless and the end of his family line, the inverted tre-foil was rarely seen, except when used by a rebel clan or followers of the teachings of Kahless. It can still be seen in a few places today, used as a symbol by rebel groups and those who feel the Empire should return to the warrior ways of old.


The Naked Stars

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