|Hunters of D'Ghor|
Prior to the 23rd century
The Hunters of D'Ghor are members of the fallen House of D'Ghor, now turned brutal renegades and pirates. Enemies of almost everyone, including the Federation and the Klingon Empire, they maraud the coreward border ostensibly championing the old ways of their people. In practice they seek resources to support their ailing fleet, and satisfying battle; between this and their fearlessness in the face of death, there is almost no enemy or challenge they will not test themselves against.
D'Ghor, the leader of the House of D'Ghor was a prominent member of the Klingon High Council, claiming an unbroken line of ancestors since the re-forging of the Klingon Empire by Chancellor L'Rell, the "Mother of the Klingon Empire." The House is ancient, one of the longest-running in the Klingon Empire. There was a D'Ghor who allied with Kahless the Unforgettable.
The House That Was
The D'Ghor were warriors first and hunters second- politicians would be a distant third. They were always been among the most vehemently aggressive and warlike of the Houses, known for their brutality and cunning in warfare. Some accused the D'Ghor of choosing victory over honor, but as the D'Ghor had an impressive military and skilled duelists with the bat'leth, challenging them openly was an invitation to enter Sto'vo-kor.
They were always followers of the Old Ways: conquerors. Peace did not sit well with them in the wake of the Khitomer Accords. Unable to turn on the Federation, the D'Ghor tended to skirmish with the Romulans or other Klingon Houses. Gowron, because of the Civil War and, later, Emperor Kahless's influence, made warfare between Klingon Houses difficult. But the D'Ghor had a generational blood feud with the House of Kozak.
Well before the Federation-Klingon war of 2257-58, the Kozak and the D'Ghor were engaged in combat with one another over territory. With the empire in tatters, the two had free reign to do so, though little came of it. A stalemate had existed for decades by the time of the 24th century, with occasional raids and flare-ups. It became clear to D'Ghor that the only way to destroy the Kozak was to undermine them.
At the death of D'Ghor's father, D'Ghor set his plans in motion, exploiting Kozak's weaknesses for gambling, overspending, and drinking. He systematically devalued the properties of the Kozak on Qo'noS and impeded shipping to Kozak's throneworld holding. But the death of Kozak was a happy accident, done not in honorable combat but because he was drunk and restless. Kozak died by falling on his own dk'tahg while menacing a Ferengi bartender.
When Kozak's widow, Grilka, claimed her husband's "killer" as her new husband, D'Ghor pivoted and revealed that Kozak had not died honorably (and thus there could be no claim by the widow) which led to a showdown in the High Council. The Ferengi uncovered that D'Ghor had been devaluing Kozak's holdings for years, a slur on D'Ghor's honor.
D'Ghor challenged the Ferengi to personal combat. But in so doing, the D'Ghor "ruthless pragmatism" of victory over honor was on full display before the High Council. D'Ghor had been willing to murder an unarmed Ferengi to attain what he wanted. Horrified by the stunning lack of ethics, Gowron was forced to see the claims made by Grilka and the Ferengi were true. D'Ghor was ejected from the High Council and suffered dis-commendation.
Fall and Fallout
Over the months that followed, the House of D'Ghor was formally stripped of their titles and ousted by force from their throneworld of D'Ghor located near the D'Ghor Nebula. The House was decreed dishonored for the next five generations and is theoretically not allowed to operate within Klingon space. Some of the D'Ghor's Banner Houses switched allegiances to other houses such as Nogral (who claimed the D'Ghor throneworld) and the Mo'Kai but most fled Klingon space with their lieges. The D'Ghor have always played a long game.
The Klingon raids in the Archanis Sector and the Dominion War were distractions for the Empire that the D'Ghor used to their advantage. They located a pair of habitable moons outside of Klingon space and set up operations. From there they re-infiltrated the nebula with their namesake and situated themselves on some old bases deep inside where the D'Ghor had always cached emergency supplies and decommissioned vessels. By the time the Empire returned from the Dominion War, they were in little position to oust the D'Ghor. No one (except the Mo'Kai) knew the nebula better.
The D'Ghor have uniquely embraced a sense of fatalism. As dishonored Klingons, they believe their fate is to go to Gre'thor where they can, at best, challenge Fek'lhr to hand to hand combat for a chance to enter Sto'vo-kor. Their path is a bleak one, and some D'Ghor modify their thinking to, "It is better to stand proud in Gre'thor than stoop in Sto'vo-kor." Others strive for the ambiguity of Ko'th, the Klingon version of Limbo. At least there they have a chance of being accepted into Sto'vo-kor later.
The D'Ghor do not shrink from death, injury, or combat any more than any other Klingon. Many, however, are angry and vengeful for their loss of status and their two favorite targets are those that they feel brought them low- the Federation and fellow Klingons. "Send them to Gre'thor," is a common practice, trying to beat an enemy into a situation where their deaths will be as dishonorable as the D'Ghor's is expected to be.
The D'Ghor are losing numbers and the Empire is perfectly willing to let them go extinct. If the D'Ghor are recruiting, their numbers are not enough to sustain them. The fact that they have no (known) bases of operation that can engage in large scale repairs or construction also assures that eventually, their fleet is going to fall apart, or become obsolete. It is unlikely the D'Ghor have enough engineers and scientists to build such a base and sustain it outside of known territory, but their ruthlessness has been underestimated before.
Trophies as Prestige
The D'Ghor have a tradition of hunting both for food and for trophies. The conquest of powerful beasts and cagey intelligent enemies sets the D'Ghor apart from the rest of the Klingon Empire. The D'Ghor, even before their exile, were suspected of going to unaligned worlds and engaging in hunting expeditions of the native wildlife (or native inhabitants).
Before the founding of the Federation, the D'Ghor Hunters were wide-ranging and may have hunted for their prey as far afield as Farius Prime. Their hunting habits were severely curtailed when the Empire was re-forged under L'Rell. Now that they have suffered dis-commendation, they see no reason to not return to their old ways. The D'Ghor view prized prey taken and displayed as a mark of prowess and intelligence. They don't take just any skull, but those that were memorable, rare or difficult.
There are none who would overtly support the D’Ghor. They once shared an ideology and affinity for the Old Ways with the Sovereignty of Kahless, who were born out of the D’Ghor’s old banner house of Ma’rek. Some of their captains joined the Sovereignty’s efforts and many of those ships were lost, but on the whole the D’Ghor were too shrewd to place their hopes in such a minor rebellion.
More cooperation can be found between the D’Ghor and the House of Mo'Kai. But the Mo’Kai view the D’Ghor as useful brutes, while the D’Ghor simply do not trust the Mo’Kai, noting they skulk in the shadows and plot more than actively fight.
Now, the two share a desire to return the Empire to the Old Ways. The Mo'Kai know that to win, they cannot openly challenge the Chancellor. So yet again, the Mo'Kai see the D'Ghor as a blunt instrument when what they want now is a scalpel. The Mo'Kai make frequent overtures in secret to the D'Ghor that should a civil war erupt after the death of Martok, D'Ghor aid will buy them a seat on the new High Council. After all, their vision is a shared one: an Empire returned to the Old Ways.
Until that time, they are keeping the D'Ghor at arm’s length. The Mo'Kai don't do anything to actually rein in the raiding and instability the D'Ghor cause along the border. They use it as evidence in their propaganda, demonstrating the old men on the High Council do not have control of their own Empire.
The D'Ghor do not truly "control" any region of space- they lack the resources (and interest) to impose themselves on large swathes of space. However, they have what they deem, "Hunting Grounds." These areas are more likely to see D'Ghor vessels within them. Both the Federation and the Klingon Empire issue alerts to remain vigilant when operating in these areas. Starfleet recommends any starship or freighter that must traverse these areas remain at Yellow Alert. The D'Ghor are seen in greatest concentrations on the spinward side of the Klingon Empire within and spinward of the D'Ghor Nebula.
Starfleet Intelligence has begun to note D'Ghor vessels operating in the Triangle as little as three months ago. This seems to be an extension of their territory and remains extremely tenuous. Though exact numbers are impossible, it is possible that their interest is transient. There may be as few as five D'Ghor vessels in the Triangle. They seem to be using Nimbus III as a resupply depot, and they may be hunting Acamarian Gatherers. They may also have some interest in raiding the surplus depots near the area.
The presence of the Hunters of D'Ghor near Romulan Republic space doesn't seem to come with any bases of depots of any kind. Rather, they stage in the area to raid Romulan shipping and harass any Starfleet presence that may exist near the Reliquary. Of all the locations of the D'Ghor, it is likely this is the one with the most potential for regional instability: the Romulans may have been weakened, but they intend to keep their space sovereign. And harassing the Federation near Lamda Eridon makes the Empire look weak.
If the D'Ghor have a central operating base, it is almost certainly within the D'Ghor Nebula. Early in the Empire's history, the D'Ghor were the first to explore and conquer the nebula's sectors. They have used the nebula to great effect during the various civil wars and conflicts that have marked a bloody history. When they were thrown off their throneworld, the D'Ghor eyed the nebula and some of its secret caches as immediate priorities for survival.
The location of Pah'duy IIIc is not known by Starfleet Intelligence or the Klingon Empire. It is located away from the heart of the D'Ghor Nebula near the edge of Klingon space. A Class P moon around a large gas giant, it is habitable but very cold. The D'Ghor's leadership has used it as a hunting ground for generations. It is now the central camp for the D'Ghor Hunters. It contains weapons and larders of food and in orbit are a number of decommissioned Klingon vessels from the 23d century. They are in the process of upgrading these vessels to be functional in the modern era, an ambitious plan that may or may not come to fruition.
The D'Ghor operate in a roughly cyndrical extension of unclaimed space beyond the D'Ghor Nebula. Currently, their "territory" is bisected by the route the Federation is escorted to the Reliquary, which is presenting a headache. It forces the Empire to provide at least some form of escort for Federation ships but the Empire is less than transparent about why. Klingon vessels will move Federation ships through the gap to Lamda Eridon and simply state that the escort is there to provide, "continued security."
Approximately fourteen light-years from Lamda Eridon in a generally Spinward-Rimward direction is the Kau'fek system. Uncharted by Klingon or Federation cartographers, Kau'fek is a geologically dead world with a desert climate. The planet's many mountain valleys and high plains were conducive to life to evolve and create a sentient species. Ten years ago, the D'Ghor conquered planet Kau'fek II whose people were little more sophisticated than Neolithic farmers. The D'Ghor have set themselves up as "Demons from the Sky" and "Gods of Hunting." The Kau'feki live in fear of these beings who can create energy from tools in their hands and who descend in great birds made of the earth. The D'Ghor have done nothing to dissuade the Kau'feki from forming a cult and religion of fear and respect around them. And it provides the D'Ghor both with safety- albeit quite rustic in setting- and another world on which to hunt and range. The Kau'feki consign their criminals to be hunted by their D'Ghor "gods."
The D'Ghor are not currently involved in any known large-scale conflicts, save that they have a toe-in with the Mo'Kai insurgency.
2397 Raid on Ghurqu'je
The most brazen aggressive action to date done by the D'Ghor against their own Empire happened around the "watcher world" of Tam at Bej Ghurqu'je (Hurq's Fall Outpost). Seven D'Ghor ships attacked the outpost and did heavy damage to it before the outpost got its shields up and counterstruck. The action turned out to be a personal rather than political cause- a Captain in the D'Ghor learned that his son had been killed by the outpost's commander.
Harrying the Coreward Frontier
The D'Ghor are aware of the Federation-Klingon cooperation around the coreward-spinward frontier outside of Klingon control. The D'Ghor have little interest themselves, though the Mo'Kai have paid D'Ghor ships to conduct raids on Federation ships and intercept Federation subspace communication so they can learn more about why the Humans are there. The D'Ghor have a tenuous presence in an area of space that the Federation cross to get to Outpost Eridon located in the Lambda Eridon system. It's seldom an easy raid, as the Klingons send seasoned and loyal commanders to escort the Federation starships.
Harrying the Romulan Republic
The D'Ghor have been known to attack small Republic convoys, primarily targeting civilian escorts and then terrifying the refugees aboard before they leave them usually disabled but alive. Intelligence believes once within the last six months, the D'Ghor attacked a Romulan Warlord seeking new territory outside of the Republic's direct control.
The House of D'Ghor was a major supplier of troops and vessels before their ouster. D'Ghor lost some but not all of their Banner Houses in the dis-commendation and eventual removal from their holdings. The military might of the D'Ghor is still significant, but not an insurmountable challenge to the Federation or the Klingon Empire.
The D'Ghor are scattered across several zones of space, most of it tenuously claimed or not at all. They are also highly mobile, though Starfleet Intelligence suspects they have at least one base in the D'Ghor Nebula, and probably a few out in unclaimed space on the Klingon's Coreward frontier. There is scant intelligence but if the D'Ghor are following old practices, they have likely seized a world or two for slave labor to replenish their supplies. Such worlds would have been low-tech and unable to resist their comparatively small numbers.
The D'Ghor make use of B'rel and K'Vort-class Birds of Prey, though intelligence in the Raeyan Triangle and from the Reliquary suggest they have adapted Nausicaan and even Romulan systems for use aboard their vessels. It is possible they are operating with pirated Breen technology as well. Old-style Klingon cruisers- some over one hundred and forty years old- have been spotted in unclaimed space. If they have any Vor'cha-class, they have not been seen. Starfleet is sure they have at least some K'Tinga-class, as outmoded as they are. The result is a force of unknown size and unusual composition. Starfleet Intelligence is certain that D'Ghor engineers continue to refine their own versions of cloaking technology which remains primarily based on known Klingon systems. Thus far there are no known examples of homegrown D'Ghor ships and such is unlikely in the future.
The Hunters of D'Ghor move in singles, doubles and trios of ships meaning that they are no match for a large convoy of ships. However, they are a danger to single ships, even single Federation ships. They have been seen to be willing to fire on Klingon vessels as well. The most dangerous aspect of the D'Ghor is their willingness to use ambush tactics and strategy bordering on terrorism. They have been known (in the past) to capture small enemy vessels, load them with explosives and ram them into large installations. Thus far Starfleet has seen no return to those tactics.
- The D'Ghor are as likely to be led by a woman, as a man. Though D'Ghor leads what remains of his House, in practice his ship captains can be male or female, and his heir apparent is D'Ghenas, his middle daughter. She is already the major push within the nebula to consolidate and build on what the D'Ghor have left.
- Draw upon the TMP-era and Reboot Trek images of independent raiders wanting to test their mettle against worthy foes. Kruge or Klaa could have easily stood in as Hunters of D'Ghor.
- Infuse them with wily intelligence, venal treachery, and ruthless pragmatism. These are not the "honorable Klingons," you are told about in story- these are pirates and street fighters. They enjoy ambushes and avoiding attacking ships in open space where an open firefight is a disadvantage. They are quick to use the natural terrain of a system or stellar phenomena to their advantage. Fighting ship to ship is fine but what they truly long for is a boarding action where blood is drawn by blade.
- Similar to Hirogen, the D'Ghor are "trophy takers"- the most common trophy they take is the skull. The D'Ghor understand the value of intimidation and terror, will decorate their ships and shuttles with the strung-up corpses of foes, and paint their hulls with smears of blood.
- The quarters or homes of individual D'Ghor can be grisly indeed- tanned skins of conquered foes, grotesque fetishes worn made of preserved body parts, heads mounted on a wall. Starfleet is concerned that the rumors of cannibalism among the D'Ghor may be true, though whether it is ritual or practical is unknown. In the lean times when a ship is starving, yes, the D'Ghor will capture and devour both sentient and non-sentient hunted prey.
- The D'Ghor have returned to a pre-Empire practice of wearing obscuring helmets and armor in battle. They no longer wear the uniform of a Klingon House. It is noted they are wearing furs and skins from unidentified animals. It appears these creatures have been taken and fashioned in this way from a planet with a cold climate. It may indicate a D'Ghor base somewhere on a Class P world or moon.