For anyone who was not old enough to remember the Challenger
speech referenced in this passage, here's a link to video for anyone interested. Even if you do remember, I recommend listening--it'll really give you an idea of the feeling I was going for, for part of the speech.
For the rest...think, "Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!"
“First Makut’amak—exactly what
seems to be your problem?” Mindesa Rhos snapped from behind a Vorta visage. How
, she snidely chastised herself: if there was one thing Arawil had not
been prone to, it was losing her temper. If Makut’amak was indeed beginning to suspect his superior, that had been a wonderful way of adding fuel to the fire. Whether it was behavior on Makut’amak’s part that had truly provoked the outburst or the torment of enduring the contemptuous glares of her own crewmates for four days in a row, Rhos counted it unacceptable and recognized the loss of composure as a potentially fatal misstep.
Even before Makut’amak could provide a response, Rhos decided that the Jem’Hadar would have to die tonight, before full understanding of the situation overrode the gene-slaves’ inbred devotion to their Vorta masters. She met Makut’amak with a level gaze as he bluntly stated, “The esteemed Vorta is not well.”
“I regret that the heat on board this poorly-maintained Cardassian scow has put me in an ill temper,” she replied in a far more genteel tone than her previous remark. “And the darkness does little to aid my admittedly weak eyesight. One can only tolerate such indignities for so long before one begins to wish the Founders would permit me to order these…people…to be a bit more accommodating to their allied hosts and a bit less focused upon themselves
. Though of course the Founders must not be questioned,” Rhos amended. “I trust in their prescience; should I be correct in my assessment, I have no doubt they have already in their infinite wisdom conceived of the necessity and shall reveal it to me in their sacred time. If I should not…then I gladly await correction that I may be more fully moulded to their ways.”
And if I have to spout this genetically-scripted theocratic drivel for one more night, let alone continue to speak ill of the Cardassian Union
, Rhos mentally appended, I think might go crazy enough to terminate these Jem’Hadar the hard way. Or die trying
. Mindesa Rhos had never considered herself a violent person prior to this—certainly not a worthy candidate for the late Obsidian Order, according to both her own self-assessment and every placement exam she had ever taken—but the things this torturous assignment drew out in her were beginning to frighten her. Never had her devotion to the state been tested to such an extent, and the range of things she found herself able to contemplate doing to fulfill her duty was sobering, to say the least.
It occurred to her that at least as a Cardassian, she had the ability to turn her back on those duties if she wished, to turn traitor and spend a week hanging for it as she died…but it would have been a choice
, at least, and it would take the talents of an expert conservator to bring her around to concede the wisdom of the state, not a mere chromosomal alteration. What sort of servitude the thrice-burned goo-globs might see fit to engineer the Cardassian race into if this continued much longer was chilling to contemplate. Probably sentient waste-disposal robots, the way our standing in this alliance seems headed
, she grimly imagined. And just for
that, for our genetic and mental purity, my orders are worth following. Whatever it takes.
She took one last, blank look at Makut’amak. “I will retire to my quarters for the moment. When I return, I shall be well, and I shall expect your presence for the distribution of the white.”
“Obedience is victory,” the Jem’Hadar barked.
Indeed, it shall be. I look forward to seeing you writhe in agony on the deckplates when our venom enters your veins.
The voice of the Cardassian gul rang out over the ship’s loudspeakers with a sonorous oratory that reminded Spirodopoulos of Dukat. But for the fact that his time on the vessel had remained a dull, uneventful nothing
contrary to the veterans’ plethora of nightmare scenarios, he would have carried the parallel to its final conclusion a long time ago. “Attention,
” Macet boomed. “From this point forward, this ship will operate under conditions of complete communications silence except where directly authorized and monitored by me. There shall be no attempts to override lockouts any shipboard communication device, nor to activate any standalone device or improvise one. The success of our mission and the glory of Cardassia depend on your complete compliance; therefore any violations of my orders shall be dealt with to the fullest extent. Mission details shall be revealed on an as-needed basis; I do not even want to hear
speculation of where we are going or what we are doing before we actually undertake those duties. Again, our coming mission demands the utmost secrecy and I will tolerate no deviations from that order.
Typical Cardie bluster
, Spirodopoulos thought to himself with a warped smirk. Captain Yvaaz!ta would
never have had to threaten force to get its way. Do they train their guls so they don’t know any better, or do they just come this way automatically?
Macet lowered his voice, and Spirodopoulos could almost picture the gul leaning closer to the audio input. “On a more personal note, I recognize the sacrifice I am asking of you. You’re wondering how long you will remain out of contact with your friends and comrades-in-arms on other vessels. You’re wondering how long it will be until you next hear from your elders, parents, spouses, and children. I am wondering the same thing myself. There are many very dear to me whom I will be unable to contact for a period to be determined by the time it takes to know victory
.” The incongruous image of Ronald Reagan appeared in his mind. Every Starfleet Academy graduate was well familiar with the American president’s address following the loss of the space shuttle Challenger
and while the losses for this crew had yet to come, Spirodopoulos couldn’t shake the memory of that combination of grave solemnity and warmth.
shall know victory. I will not rest until I know in my heart and mind that Cardassia is truly strong, secure, and prosperous. I ask the same of you in these coming weeks and months. We must rely upon each other to help us maintain that resolve no matter what we may face together. And in the face of that, there is
no enemy, no matter how daunting, no matter how favorable their position and resources, that can hope to prevail against the cunning and zeal of
Trager of Cardassia!
When the gul closed the channel, Spirodopoulos admitted to himself that if he were Cardassian, he would have been tempted to let out a whoop of solidarity. As it was, by the end of the speech, he found himself beginning to…not regret
, exactly, but to supplement his initial judgment of Macet. The man spoke as one thoroughly inculcated in the ways of a totalitarian state—yet just as when Macet had dealt with him directly, there was clearly something else there. And part of him had to wonder how he or Yvaaz!ta might have fared under similar life circumstances, what they might have sounded like giving the same speech.
More pressing, however, was the implication of the gul’s announcement for his and Folani’s fate, and that of any other Starfleet officer sitting in silent captivity elsewhere in this Cardassian cargo bay. From the sound of it, Macet was about to go off the grid in a serious way—and the Federation soldier couldn’t help but notice that nowhere had Macet ever stated that he had received his orders from Central Command; nowhere had he given tribute to Damar or his Vorta puppetmasters. The question now was what this might mean for his survival and that of his comrades.