In 2291, Torlek was first officer of the K't'inga class battlecruiser IKS Qu'ov when it was ambushed by the Romulans, its captain incapacitated. After assuming command and acquitting himself well in battle against them and the Gorn, the captain recommended Torlek to General Chang's Elite Command Academy, and he was accepted. (TOS video game: Klingon Academy demo)
Torlek eventually became Chang's star pupil at the Academy, proving his tactical skill in the simulated campaign against the United Federation of Planets - so much so that he was able to defeat simulations of legendary Starfleet captains Hikaru Sulu and James T. Kirk in the course of the campaign. In the midst of his Academy studies, Chang also called upon Torlek to conduct real-life intelligence gathering missions on the House of G'Iogh, a powerful Great House that had attempted to take control of the Empire earlier that year. He succeeded in the final campaign and graduated with top honors, earning himself a captaincy in the Klingon fleet. But while the others received their commands immediately after graduation, Torlek's was withheld, until he was called to meet with the General and Gorkon, son of Toq, in the graduation hall of the Academy. Chancellor Lorak had died, and Melkor, the head of the House of G'Iogh, had declared himself Emperor of the Klingon Empire.
As the Klingon fleet split between Melkor, Gorkon and Chang, Torlek became one of Chang's senior captains, leading convoy defense missions. He was forced to fight and kill his best friend, Captain Jaghjech, when he swore allegiance to Melkor. Torlek was also instrumental in the capture of a Melkor-controlled starbase, the evacuation of that starbase after it was sabotaged, and the acquisition of a mobile supply base from Gorkon, who delivered it as a goodwill gesture, and a reminder to Chang that they shared a common enemy. After the war turned against Melkor with the destruction of the Tal'Ihnor Gates, Torlek was forced to turn to Gorkon for support when Chang was ambushed by Melkor and his newly-declared Romulan allies. Despite Torlek's effort to save his mentor and end the war, Melkor escaped, and Chang was now forced to swear allegiance to Gorkon. As punishment for this transgression, Chang assigned Torlek to border patrol.
While there, Torlek investigated a distress signal sent from a Klingon outpost along the Federation Neutral Zone. It turned out that the signal was a ruse by Melkor's loyalists to lure Chang - a vocal proponent for war with the Federation - from Qo'noS to the Federation border in the belief that the Federation was preparing an invasion, leaving the Homeworld open to Melkor's long-awaited attack. On Gorkon's order, Torlek tracked down Chang's flagship and, appealing to the General's code of honor - a code that he had taught to Torlek himself - convinced him to return to Qo'noS. In the vanguard of Chang's returning fleet, Torlek confronted Melkor in ship-to-ship combat and emerged victorious; the Usurper was dead, and with him his plans to rule the Empire.
After the war ended, Torlek was rumored to be in the running as the new Military Adviser to Chancellor Gorkon, which did not go through. Instead, Torlek was assigned to command a deep-space expedition to locate new sources of energy for the Empire, as the destruction of the Tal'Ihnor system had forced the overmining of Praxis, which would lead to eventual disaster. Before departing, Chang - now Gorkon's Chief of Staff - met with his pupil one last time, hinting at the events to come, and admitted that Torlek had been the finest student he had ever taught. That was the last time Torlek ever saw General Chang. Even after Chang's role in Gorkon's murder and the attempted de-railing of the Khitomer Accords came to light, Torlek proudly remembered the General. When asked about his mentor he would "gladly sit upon the ground and tell sad tales of the death of kings". (TOS video game: Klingon Academy)