OK...going to give you guys this part a bit early!
(Just one note...I know Spirodopoulos is crossing himself "backwards." That's not a mistake; that's how some in the Eastern Churches do it.)
2375—The Dominion War—Two minutes to ground battle
Cardassian Rasgălor of Lessek
The foothills lay at his back now like spectral grey shadows of the Appalachians; below lay the shipyard, just out of sight, tucked into the depression like the town of Blacksburg in the Shenandoah Valley. They would follow the path of an old riverbed carved out millions if not billions of years ago between the hills—the river itself, however, had not flowed for thousands of years before the first Cardassian set foot on the planet.
The foothills here on the Cardassian outworld—rasgălor
, as they called it, felt to Spirodopoulos the way the Blue Ridge always did when he visited America. See, Mike
, his grandmother had explained to a boy accustomed to the great, jagged prominences of Thessaloniki, these mountains may not seem like much to look at, but the truth is they’re far more ancient and for that you have to respect them. Just like how a certain homely carpenter from a hole-in-the-wall is in fact the Ancient of Days—once you know how to look.
The Greek soldier slung his Cardassian rifle on his back and knelt.
He crossed himself as he always did before battle. Except this time, as his fingers moved from right shoulder to left, they brushed against the central rib of his cuirass. He’d almost begun to forget its alien strangeness, but now Ensign Folani, who had witnessed his ritual numerous times on AR-558, snorted.
Spirodopoulos couldn’t resist a tiny chortle at the image as he mentally stepped outside himself. I bet You’re getting a kick out of this
, he thought to the Almighty with a crooked smile that quickly evaporated. At least, I hope so, because I’d much prefer that to winding up in Hades for it
He drew in a breath and subdued his face and mind. Lord of the Powers be with us, for in times of distress we have no other help but You. Lord of the Powers, have mercy on us.
Guide my hand that even in the midst of war I may be temperate in my actions, that I may act only where I must act for the sake of friends and allies, new and old, that You might show me the way to bring others out from the yoke of oppression. Help my allies from another of Your myriad worlds to unite with their sundered brothers and find the way to peace. And for what I am about to do…forgive us all, that it has come to this.
Kyrie, eleison—Christe, eleison—Kyrie, eleison. Amen.
Then he looked up.
Spirodopoulos still hadn’t found the chronometer function on his wristcomm, but he acutely sensed the ticking of each second nonetheless. He checked the settings on the Cardassian disruptor rifle once more, flicked the safety off and back on.
Next he throttled the beam intensity settings back and forth. The rifle had only three settings: heavy stun, kill, and vaporize. Roast, rape, and raze
, Chief Librescu had called it in a bit of Federation-Cardassian War veterans’ slang Spirodopoulos had icily warned the noncom that he had better not ever
hear from any soldier of the Thirteenth Order, especially not where the Cardassians might hear. Still, Alexandru Librescu had added, this tried-and-true weapon had one of the sturdiest designs he had ever encountered—one he respected so greatly that he had kept one after the war and grumbled about his captain’s refusal to let him take it on away missions.
Spirodopoulos set the disruptor rifle back to stun. Despite the difficulties, he and the guls had agreed—Cardassian lives were to be spared if at all possible. Some would rebel when the Thirteenth Order stormed the base, and excessive bloodshed was not likely to encourage them. Those who continued to collude…though it didn’t sit well with Spirodopoulos, his understanding was that the Cardassians intended to take prisoners—and not as they had with the Starfleet contingent.
The Jem’Hadar and Vorta, of course, were a different matter. When it came to them, raze
sounded like a very good setting indeed.
He felt a pang of shame. He crossed himself again.
Forgive them, for they know not what they do. They
can’t; their bodies hold their souls in chains I can’t imagine.
Ultimately, it was their worldly creators who would pay for that
sin. And when it came to the damned Founders, Spirodopoulos had to concede his mortal nature: his forgiveness only went so far.
Ivy Wilkes made a quick dash-and-retreat, darting across the sensor perimeter and back like she would in a football speed drill. Please let that be enough to bring down the shield!
she thought in as much time as it took her to make it there and back.
The diminutive Rebek stared stonily into the distance as Wilkes mentally ticked off the seconds. Iymender had said it could take a full thirty seconds for his first set of viruses to override the required systems, but that made the delay no more tolerable.
Finally, the Cardassian woman beheld something through that ungainly device encircling her head. “It’s starting…the shield generators are starting to shut down. Just a second more…”
This time Wilkes saw it too: with a subtle fizz
, the forcefield sputtered out of existence.
Rebek snatched up a rock and rounded up with a form that would have made the baseball players of old jealous. She unleashed a blistering fastball that shot down into the valley—
—beyond the dome where the shield should have been, unobstructed.
Gul Rebek tapped her wristcomm thrice.
Wilkes gulped. Here we go…
Lieutenant Commander Spirodopoulos shot to his feet at those three tiny clicks from his wristcomm: Rebek confirmed shield failure.
They had only minutes to reach the foot of the hill before the shields snapped back online. “Get up!” Spirodopoulos shouted to the armored Starfleet soldiers, unstrapping his rifle. “Thirteenth Order—on your feet! Vacation’s officially over, people! Let’s show the Dominion we’ve still got it!”
A few meters away, Gul Speros stood as well, his body rigid, black eyes burning with singular determination. “Mriytic Cardăsa!
” he cried, lifting his rifle above his head. Cardassia will rise!
The Cardassians were outnumbered approximately two-to-one by the Starfleet group, even after a new infusion of men from the Ghiletz
, but they more than made up with it with the intensity of their battle cry.
Then one voice rose above them all: Gul Akellen Macet—his voice ablaze with a righteous fury Spirodopoulos fancied would have put even the man’s deranged cousin on the run.
Cardassian Guard and Federation Starfleet charged headlong with the wind at their backs and gravity on their side—one force fixed upon a united goal.2375—The Dominion War—The Battle for the Shipyard
Cardassian Rasgălor of Lessek
Lessek Planetside Base
Shipyard surveillance monitor Sorabec was in a foul mood she dared not let on.
awfully quiet today,” Gruner remarked in a cheery conversational tone that Sorabec knew was anything but. Why today, of all days, does
Ragoç Gruner have to be early for his shift?
“Give me a smile, Remegh…don’t be shy.”
Her supervisor was one of those who seemed to think women in the military outside the sciences were only there to fulfill some secret dream of bedding their male superiors—and certainly not in the context of wedlock
where a proper Cardassian kept the sexual act. No, Gruner was one of those too blasted many who thought that because he could legally bear arms, his personal
weapon was free to roam wherever it wanted. In his world, the rules didn’t apply to him. And the sad part was that under many guls—who had their own dalliances to hide, they didn’t. To make matters even worse, Gruner was distantly related to someone on the Detapa Council…that is, one of the members the Dominion had actually kept.
It was enough to make Sorabec envious of her cousin Vatriy, who had died a few months ago on the Aldara
. Gul Danar may have been an irascible ghentregămst
, but at least he didn’t put up with that
kind of garbage on his ship…rumor had it that the first sorry skrăgh
to try it with one of his female officers had ended up rather permanently ‘disarmed.’
And being dead, Vatriy certainly wasn’t enduring this now. Gruner had been trying to jump in her armor since day one on this rock and had done everything short of actually grabbing her posterior to let her know it. The way he stroked his neck ridges every time he caught her eye bordered on the pornographic. To add insult to Gruner’s desired injury, he had a massive double chin that practically swallowed his jaw ridges whole; the twin chin ridges might as well not be there. Worse, he had a kănar
-gut that bounced low enough to peek out from under his cuirass every time he took a step. The thought of looking up at Gruner from that
position was enough to make Sorabec want to vomit.
, Sorabec sarcastically thought for not the first time as Gruner loomed over her chair, sucking up to the Vorta doesn’t get the blood racing anymore?
What she really
said was, “Kiba’avzayn, Ragoç
Said good tidings, though, certainly weren’t for Gruner. They really belonged to Riyăk
Iymender, wherever he was. According to the chronometer, he and that unprecedented hybrid force were supposed to come crashing down from the foothills in less than a minute to liberate Lessek from its Dominion overlords—and from there, the entire Cardassian Union.
She had to give it to the lanky programmer…he sure had a lot of nerve for a code-cruncher. Not that anybody would’ve guessed it to look at him: until the new Dominion-approved glinn—the same one who had seen fit to gift the base with Gruner’s presence—put a stop to it, Iymender had the tendency to sit down cross-legged wherever the inspiration might strike…often without warning and almost always somewhere guaranteed to snarl up foot traffic…and chew on the end of his stylus until he collected his thoughts sufficiently to actually scribble something on his padd. What a recruitment poster
, some of her friends had quipped at the sight. And Glinn Thivok had only tolerated it because Iymender delivered such results.
But then the riyăk
had approached Sorabec with the nearly unthinkable: rebellion. And the more she got to know Iymender, the more endearing his oddities became…and she had started to see there was more to him than that, a young man with a great deal of potential who just needed a little work on his social skills. In spite of herself, he’d started to grow on her.
Quite unlike the man who now sought to attach himself to her like a giant, parasitic, spaceborne amoeba. Sorabec kept her eyes glued to the feed, barely even acknowledging Gruner’s presence as he hovered irritatingly over her shoulders like a Klingon glob-fly. She hoped the man ran afoul of a Starfleet disruptor blast.
No, she decided as she leaned back in her chair trying to feign relaxation, it didn’t bother her at all to contemplate Gruner’s innards plastered all over the wall like an insect too sluggish to dodge a swatter. That was what a traitor to the Cardassian Union deserved, after all—and that’s what all Dominion collaborators were. And especially
a vile creature like Gruner who actually thought Gul Dukat’s come-hither swagger and wandering eyes were worthy of emulation, as if it made him more of a man
Then the security feed flashed.
‘Flashed’ was far too overblown a word for it—all it had really been was a subtle increase in the color saturation, almost too faint for the eye to see, a hint that died away almost immediately to be replaced by the same tedious sort of feed that rolled across her screen every hour of every other day.
Maybe if he dismissed her soon enough, the blame for the ensuing mess might fall on him. Maybe the Vorta he so enjoyed kissing up to would be the one to kill him before the Star’hvliyt-çăs
got to him—that
would be justice indeed. The crimes are treason and flagrant repulsiveness
, she thought. The sentence is death: let the trial begin.
Sorabec said nothing, hoping that subtle flicker had evaded the rotund ragoç
. That was her first mistake.
,” Gruner declared in a singsong mockery of amazement. “I do believe a gor
is supposed to inform her superior of any signs of equipment malfunction. Now, why would a good little Cardassian fail to do that?”
Sorabec froze. It would even have been better to say the first words that occurred to her—because you’re standing there and saw it too, you idiot
—than it was to hold her tongue. That was her second mistake: the fatal one.
“Maybe the good little Cardassian isn’t
a good little Cardassian after all.”
Even as she absorbed the knowledge that she was about to die, Sorabec still couldn’t help but be struck by how utterly insipid his ‘rhetoric’ was. Was it possible he thought that pathetic provocation was actually going to arouse
her in her last moments? Even a first-day archon-student could write a more creative courtroom condemnation than that. He never had been one for subtlety. Of course, some small part of her rejoiced that the blubberhead was too stupid to think about interrogating her to find out exactly what the threat was.
Gruner raised his disruptor pistol. Sorabec could have sworn that wasn’t the only thing he raised. “What a shame…I had such
dreams for you.”
The first casualty of the Lessek uprising died mouthing a curse at her weak-minded, lecherous supervisor and hoping against all hope that stupid as he was, there’d be at least a little time before he managed to involve someone who really could
raise chaos against Iymender and the rebels.