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In the middle of the final episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation, we learn that

in the future, the Klingons have defeated the Romulans, they're no longer at peace with Federation and they're only allowing medical ships to pass through the sector previously known as Neutral Zone.

If that's so, then why did they attack a medical ship? A ship that has no firepower to match any of the attackers and that was declaring a pure medical mission? Why didn't they respond to any hails or even the declaration of surrender?

What is the reason the Klingons destroyed a medical, defenceless, surrendering ship? Is this honorable at all?

It is clearly said, previously in this episode, that the situation between Klingon and the Federation is delicate. It is far from a state of war, and even during war you usually don't destroy a medical ship that declares surrender and is no threat at all for you.

Am I missing something?

  • Klingons are never far from war declaration. – Paul D. Waite May 20 '15 at 12:03
  • No, they are not. But, in the same time, they value honor as something the most important in their lives. And -- I must repeat myself -- even the most stupid Klingon should not find anything famous or honorable in destroying defenseless, surrounding medical ship. Who could glory the coward's destroyer? – trejder May 21 '15 at 8:50
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It was a medical ship, but it wasn’t actually on a medical mission. It was entering the former Romulan-Federation neutral zone, without the apparently-necessary permission of the Klingon Empire. That’s at least suspicious behaviour on the part of the Federation.

Quite frankly, they didn’t have a leg to stand on.

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    And even it being unarmed and non-military, it's so only in appearance, as far as Klingons are concerned. Also, victory is a victory when in the service of the Empire. – AcePL May 20 '15 at 8:55
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    @AcePL: tonight we will bathe in the blood of paediatricians! – Paul D. Waite May 20 '15 at 9:46
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    @PaulD.Waite: Exactly. And this is commonly known as duty. – AcePL May 21 '15 at 15:00
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    @trejer: bits of both. “It’s a Federation ship, and it’s in the wrong part of space” — that’s just the future timeline. “I don’t think Klingons in general in TNG require substantial evidence of hostile intent or notable strength before attacking an enemy” — the entire series. – Paul D. Waite May 21 '15 at 20:15
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    @trejder: like if a ship looks like an enemy ship on the face of it, I don’t think a Klingon would say “Wait though, let’s do a bit more research so that we’re sure this is an enemy.” They’d unsheathe the Bat’leth (metaphorically speaking) and have at it. – Paul D. Waite May 21 '15 at 20:19

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