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Old July 20 2010, 04:06 AM   #556
Nerys Ghemor
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Location: Cardăsa Terăm--Nerys Ghemor
Re: Star Trek: Sigils and Unions--The Thirteenth Order

All's the next section! I hope you guys enjoy this!

BTW, I am not going to provide a grammatical breakdown of the Cardassian-language section. I found that apparently some of the vocabulary is getting around the Internet, and while I don't mind THAT, I am debating whether or not I actually want to release a full grammar as I had originally intended.

The Mendral shown here is the Sigils-universe version of the same character seen in the SigCat stories as a Starfleet officer.

The armor and pike of the Honor Vigil may be seen here.


Eleven hours after the Battle of Lessek
Kounamab/McAllister Nebula
The Lessek Gălor

When the groaning of the cargo bay doors opening echoed off of the cavernous walls of the cargo bay aboard the new Gălor, the low murmurs of those who gathered there came to a stop. Even the guls who were in attendance grew silent—for Daro came here not just on his own behalf, but that of Gul Macet as well. And though Speros might be the senior gul by age and tenure, it was Macet and Berat who were the heart of the rebellion. And now Spirodopoulos, Daro reminded himself. For the terhăn-çăs, for the Starhvliyt-çăs—he means even more than Macet or any of the other guls means to us.

Macet remained aboard the Trager, for if Dominion forces or the Cardassians who still served them should find them—never mind that the new ship was the strongest in their fleet and the Trager and Sherouk’s enhanced sensors showed nothing approaching the nebula as of yet. They could not forget the risk of a strike that destroyed the command staff while it was all gathered in one place. So for now, in this place it was Daro who would lead the memorial ceremony on his commander’s behalf.

There were no stasis caskets in this cargo bay as there ordinarily would have been; to many Cardassians, their number led by Gul Speros, it was the ultimate dishonor for the bodies of their people to be viewed by aliens. Daro understood the protective instinct as well as anyone—the primitive drive to guard the bodies of the dead and see them to an undisturbed resting place where no carrion eaters could desecrate the bodies and no predators could catch the scent of weakness and threaten the rest of the tribe. But that’s just an excuse…these are sentient beings who are here to honor our dead, as well as theirs. It was a shame Speros and his ilk couldn’t be convinced to relent…so the viewings would have to wait.

Daro, though, had offered a suggestion to at least symbolically express the presence of the dead, one that had been accepted: designate two additional officers to wear the armor and mail and bear the pike of the Honor Vigil, and have them attend the memorial service as the ‘representatives’ of the dead. It was the solemn duty of those appointed to this ceremonial guard to stand watch for a shift over the bodies of the fallen, who would never be abandoned by their brothers or sisters while they yet remained unburied.

They entered the cargo hold just behind Daro, assuming their positions at his sides. The cuirass strongly resembled the one worn by the modern military—indeed, this was where the tri-ribbed motif had first originated, nearly two thousand years ago. However, these were made of actual steel, airbrushed to the same dark charcoal-grey as the much lighter modern version. Unlike the modern version, matching plating continued in an overlapping, scale-like pattern under the arms and around the sides, down to the leaved tassets that guarded the hips and pelvic area.

But it was what flowed out from under the cuirass and tassets that was the most striking to the modern eye: it was quite literally a robe of chain mail, flowing from shoulder to the top of the hand, and from beneath the tassets all the way to the ankle; beneath, the steel-tipped boots were visible. The lower portion of the robe parted in the middle, though it overlapped to minimize the exposure of the soldier’s legs even at a run. As it was, every step they took was accompanied by a telltale metallic swish.

In the ancient days of Hebitia, charioteers and infantrymen of Rivçal’s nations had once fought clad in this manner: the chain mail robe served to protect their legs from being cut out from under them, either by the swords of their opponents, or the long, bladed pikes like the ones the Honor Vigil carried now, the height of a man and half again. Such outfits had become obsolete even in the days of Hebitia, long before the spacefaring era, not in the least because—as he well knew from experience—they were incredibly heavy. Standing watch in the traditional manner for an entire shift, with no break for food, drink, or even to relieve oneself was a grueling endeavor.

But there were few honors greater than what Riyăk Mendral and Ragoç Nedav had volunteered to do, to see that those who gave their lives for the sake of the Cardassian Union were never without the dignity and protection they deserved as they journeyed to their final resting place.

Now, Daro ascended the platform that had been shuttled over from the Trager for this occasion. The Honor Vigil stood in mirrored formation at the platform’s sides, their pikes canted at opposite angles away from each other. There was no podium, for as a product of the Cardassian Union’s educational system, he needed no place for notes. And aside from the platform that befitted his standing, he wanted no other separation between him and the others who gathered to honor the dead.

In the front row stood the commanding officers—Gul Rebek of the Romac, Gul Speros and Glinn Hatel of the Ghiletz at each flank. In the center was the Starfleet commander, the human whose tan skin allowed the faint pinkish hue of blood to show as even Daro’s own Hăzăkda sandstone-beige microscales would not. Gul Berat had taken up a position next to the human. And even with his never-truly-still hands tucked behind his back, there was something about the way his star-blue eyes blazed…not the barely-leashed fury of Speros, but an expression that almost seemed to will strength and encouragement to those who stood in his bioelectric aura—which included Spirodopoulos. On the human’s other side was the tall Bajoran ensign, Folani, still in her Starfleet combat fatigues and looking for all of Cardassia like the lieutenant commander’s bodyguard.

After a moment for the last few voices among the gathered to fall silent, Daro spoke. He felt the twinges of nervousness deep in his stomach—for the words he would speak were bold: not only to honor the dead, but to crystallize the revolution they now undertook. These were words that would have brought death mere weeks ago. For so many generations Cardassia had lived under such strictures that even to listen to such words carried the penalty of death…either quickly by execution, or slowly by forced labor. Now, he had to speak. And they had to get used to listening. Not all would, of course—and there would be those among the crews of the Thirteenth Order who would have to be watched…and carefully.

Perhaps it would be easier for some to hear this from him, because like Gul Berat after Volan III, he had already once defied. Unusual words, bold words…these were expected from him, or at least, not entirely unaccustomed. He hoped so, anyway—for these words were sorely needed.

“We come to honor those who have sacrificed to the fullest for the sake of all Cardassia,” he began, his quiet, solemn voice amplified by the computer for all to hear. “For those of us who have fought aboard these vessels since the beginning of the war, we have spoken these words many times now—but never voiced our doubts. And for many of us, there was good reason…it would’ve been sedition. But this is what we all knew to be true: it was our highest leaders who committed the ultimate act of sedition against the Cardassian people, by throwing our strength and our very lives into the jaws of the Dominion.

“Today, though…there is no more doubt. We know why it is we have fought, and why these honored fallen have given their lives. And every other sacrifice among our crews since the inception of this war has led to this moment.

“For many of us gathered here…the answer is simple. We do this because we have not forgotten what it means to be Cardassian—because we believe that still means something, no matter what the Dominion puppetmasters have tried to tell us. And no matter what it is we have done to ourselves. This is also because we believe that there is a future in which what makes us great can be expressed more fully than it has been in a long time. That is what gives their sacrifice meaning. What these men and women have done, they have done not for the sake of what Cardassia has become, but what Cardassia ought to be.

“But there are others,” Daro continued, meeting eyes with Lieutenant Commander Spirodopoulos, “who are not obligated by birth as we are. They have been brought to us under difficult circumstances where they surely felt they had little reason to trust us or to care about our fate—and yet they have made the choice that with the rest of their people taken out of the action by the Breen, that they would carry the fight to the very heart of the enemy—for their fight and ours are one. Such an alliance comes with trials; there is no other way. But we have seen what they can do, what they are willing to do.

“Never again must we as Cardassians look at those who do not share our blood as though they have no minds, no virtues like our own…for the blood they have spilled upon a soil foreign to them, not just for the sake of their own, but also for the sake of our freedom, cries out against that notion far more powerfully than you or I ever can. If you still harbor doubts as to their worthiness to stand among us—then I advise you to listen carefully to the reading of the names, or to visit our ships’ sickbays, where people of our world and theirs lay side by side, recovering from their wounds. That is what you have shared. That is what unites us now, and what always will.

“We must give their sacrifice meaning, in the battle ahead, and the rebuilding that will follow. What the mingled blood of the battlefield has united, let no man or woman, no distance or decree, ever drive apart. Let us now hear the names of the fallen and remember our gratitude for the lives of all who have given to the utmost…for Cardassia.”

Daro extended a hand towards Spirodopoulos. The terhăn stepped forward towards the command platform, clutching a padd in his hand. He understood that, with very few exceptions, terhăn-çăs and many other Federation species lacked the eidetic memories that Cardassians were trained for from their earliest childhood. I just hope the naysayers don’t take that as a demerit against him, Daro thought. He gestured for Spirodopoulos to join him on the platform.

Together, they spoke the names of the dead: Daro would recite a few names, then Spirodopoulos would add one of his people of similar rank. Onward they continued until Daro had named the fifty-nine Cardassian rebels and Spirodopoulos the twenty-three Starfleet soldiers who had perished in the attack on Lessek.

They reflected in silence for several moments. Then, with a nod from Daro, Spirodopoulos returned to his place in the front row. Riyăk Mendral stepped forward, the chain mail of his ceremonial armor making just about the only sound in the room. Ragoç Nedav followed suit, the silver in his hair glinting much like the mail, ridges deep, forehead wrinkled, and back straight: the very image of strong, dignified seniority.

Mendral, for his part, also bore the ancient armor well—for almost every time there had been a death aboard the Trager since his posting, he had served a shift with the Honor Vigil the day of the memorial. He had a truly beautiful singing voice…the only reason he had not been granted a musical performance license by the Cultural Ministry, maybe even the more prestigious composition license, was that his military aptitude tests had come up far too high and Central Command had claimed precedence. But the first time he was appointed to the Honor Vigil, Gul Macet sat up and took notice: this would be the one venue in which he could express his gift, for the Cultural Ministry dared not interfere with Guard ceremonies.

Riyăk Mendral began to sing—a haunting chant for the dead that dated back to the earliest days of the Cardassian Union.

Kătăr Cardăsa-ra malin-pret ho’olav-pret nou.
Bayçanatiy ghe’epzayn de’ek.
May we remember…may we give thanks…
For these lives to Cardassia in service given.
May we remember the honored dead.
Sevokmoliyse, ta’aboun rou’oukou
Me outikuvtum, vu’urhtoul rou’oukou:
Bozd’oç çe’enit-cor edikouv-cor metun edek!”
Give thanks, their friends
And tremble, their enemies:
I take strength from my memories!
“Çonotiy malin-lit de’ekou-lit de’ek
Vokmoliy malin-lit de’ekou-lit de’ek
Ves’dolokiy malin-lit de’ekou-lit mivrăk de’ek.
By our service we remember
By our service we give thanks
By our service we set the order aright.
Tho sezont’oçiyse iscnotos ghep ça’adal tho nou,
Tho sezont’oçiyse isthotop rhiylac ça’adal tho nou,
Tho sezont’oçiyse ishosok metun ça’adal-thu hăcet’picatul tho nou.
Let not death divide us
Let not sorrow dismay us
Let not terror drive from us our might.
Kătăr Cardăsa-ra malin-pret ho’olav-pret nou.
Bayçanatiy ghe’epzayn de’ek.

Riyăk Mendral gave no bow as he concluded—this was not the time to seek the accolades of an audience. Even in the days of the Union, it was still acknowledged that the songs for the dead belonged to their own category and obeyed their own rules: what purpose it served was hard to say these days. Perhaps it was for the living. Perhaps not. It was said there were those who still acknowledged something beyond the visible life—they lived in hiding, but Daro felt rather sure they were not completely extinguished. Perhaps this was the last mark they had left upon the hearts of Cardassians, this remembrance of the departed. And if they were ever to make their return, Daro supposed, this was the time and the place where they would gain their foothold.

Indeed…there were those among the Federation-born soldiers who had bowed their heads in a gesture of reverence that no Cardassian dared show or give official leave for, even at a time like this lest the Obsidian Order and its successor take it as a sign of…heresy against the State, Daro thought. Strange to use a term like that to describe it—but it fits. It was no surprise that Folani and Webene had closed their eyes; such was expected of Bajorans, by and large. But so too did Spirodopoulos. This was a surprise to Daro; as far as he’d known, terhăn-çăs, like Vulcans, Romulans, and arguably the Klingons, held no beliefs. Vulcans had their mysticism, such as it was, and Klingons their oft-cited, seldom-obeyed ‘honor’ code, but neither gave reverence to anything outside themselves in the sense that the old Oralians had.

And the interesting thing, Daro thought to himself, though he still feared that to say it would be to push those around him beyond the degree of heterodoxy that they could take, is that contrary to what our instructors and inquisitors would have us believe, their indulgence in ritual seems not to have compromised their decision-making processes in the slightest. And for an infantryman like Daro, there was no greater trust than the idea that you could count on the man or woman holding their rifle next to you.

And to Glinn Daro’s mind…Spirodopoulos and his people had earned trust. He could not say that yet—he could not officially acknowledge their actions, but to turn a blind eye, at least, was a start. But he had wanted to honor the aliens’ sacrifices in some fashion, even though Speros refused to budge in so many other ways. And that was why he had lobbied so hard for what he was about to do, now that the memorial proper was finished. “Gul Speros, Glinn Hatel,” Daro quietly called, “it is time for the presentation of the ship’s sigil.”

The Ghiletz’ second-in-command, Glinn Hatel, stepped forward in parallel with Gul Speros, who held a steel medallion on a wide-linked chain made wide enough to sit upon the shoulders just beyond the end of the neck ridges. This was the ship sigil, the tangible symbol of command. Since there was no previous commander to pass this ship’s sigil to his successor, the honor belonged to Speros.

But before Speros could make the presentation, there was one more detail that had to be attended to. This ship needed a name. “Commander Spirodopoulos,” Daro announced, “please rejoin me.”
Are you a Cardassian fan, citizen? Prove your loyalty--check out my fanfic universe, Star Trek: Sigils and Unions. Or keep the faith on my AU Cardassia, Sigils and Unions: Catacombs of Oralius!
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