“Do we have all the Fourth Order's Guls on our side?” Daset asked.
“Yes,” Jotrel confirmed.
“We also have the First Order and the Third Order to support us,” Tarkan added, pointing to Gul Marret and Gul Relta.
“What if the Directorate decides to oppose?” Jarol asked.
“Hopefully they won't. Otherwise...” Daset didn't finish, but she knew. A civil war.
“Let's go through this again,” Daset said. “Jotrel?”
“First Battalion will secure all military outposts in the orbit and on the planet, including the Academy. The main goal is to separate command from troops until we can be sure of their loyalty. They either join us or are expelled from the Guard, effective immediately. No force is to be used, unless it's absolutely necessary.”
“Battalion Two Task Force One will secure the government building, relieving the Castellan and his people off duty. They are to be escorted back home to ensure their safety. Task Force Two will secure the capitol, the remaining Task Forces have been assigned a city and its Prefectures each. The civilians are to be escorted homes for their own safety in case the Directorate decides to use troops still loyal to them.”
“Battalion Three will secure the Directorate main building and home arrest all its members. They have to be separated and not in contact with anyone to limit the risk of issuing any orders to their troops.”
“The First Order will enforce Battalion four-two in securing the city. Everyone was instructed not to use force against civilians. Two Task Forces will stand by in orbit in case the Directorate decides to attack from space.”
“The Third Order is spread between most populated colonies. They will send several patrols to control the situation, but are mostly to observe and possibly defend the borders, if a word comes out and a foreign power tries to interfere.”
“Remember” Daset looked at all Guls' faces, lingering on each for a moment. “We do not fight against our denizens. The casualties must be kept to the minimum. I realise hoping for no casualties would be unrealistic, but warn your people that civilians will not understand what is happening and some of them could feel defence is necessary. Everyone must be escorted home. I want empty streets. If the Directorate answers with force, we will fight them. But only them.”
“What about other Orders?” Daset asked.
“The Second Order is stationed near the Breen border,” Tarkan answered. “The rest is in chaos. They are still being regrouped and Ghemor obviously doesn't think it's a priority to bring order to our military.”
“Of course he doesn't. The Federation doesn't want a strong Cardassian army,” Marret muttered.
“So they either would join us or wouldn't,” Daset didn't like this uncertainty.
“What do we do with those, who don't support us, but not fight us?” Jarol asked.
“Anyone, who is not on our side, is to be dismissed from the active service. They would be assigned different roles and their troops would be reassigned to the Restoration Program,” Tarkan explained.
Daset put his hands on his desk and leaned on them. He took a deep breath and then quietly said: “For Cardassia.”
Jarol returned to her warship. Brenok and Ma'Kan waited for her in the transporter room.
“Are our orders confirmed?” Brenok asked.
“They are. Are your teams ready?”
“Yes, sir,” the Glinn nodded. “Government officials' houses are secured and ready to accept their tenants. Transporter dampeners in place.”
Jarol looked at Ma'Kan.
“I have coordinated with other warships to simultaneously beam small troops to each floor of the main government building to minimise any resistance. The guards on duty will be disarmed and sent back home, even if they declare their loyalty to us. We cannot afford to trust anyone at this point.”
“Good thinking,” Jarol approved. “How much time?”
Brenok checked his chronometer.
“Fifteen minutes. The virus Jotrel and I had created should kick in in ten minutes and it should eat the defence systems of the government buildings within three minutes.”
“Should,” she repeated.
“There was no way to test the program, so we can't be one hundred percent certain.”
“What is going to happen if the virus doesn't work?”
“Our transporter patterns would be scattered around whole Lakat.”
What a wonderful vision
, she thought bitterly.
“Go to your posts and wait there.”
Brenok left the transporter room and Ma'Kan stood by the door. She waved to someone outside, and a group of militiamen jogged inside and went to the transporter pad. Jarol joined them and so did Ma'Kan.
The Gul was nervous. She had an impression everyone could hear her heart beating. She glanced at the faces of the men around her. They seemed calm like a rock. She wondered if they were realising what was ahead of them. She knew they understood their orders, but did they know how important it was? And what would failure mean? But they wouldn't fail her, would they?
Garesh Dalar, who commanded militia troops aboard the Roumar, nodded to her and somehow she felt reassured.
“It's time,” the transporter Garesh said crisply.
“Energize,” she ordered and the group disappeared in an orange light.
They materialised in front of the door to the Castellan's office. The guards there were so surprised by their unexpected appearance that before they had a chance to do anything, they were disarmed and beamed away.
Guards down the corridor however had enough time to react. A few shots went Jarol's team way, but all missed.
“Drop your weapons!” someone there shouted.
She pushed her way among her people, going forward to face the guards on duty. One of her men tried to shield her with his body, but she shook her head. He moved to a side, but still part of him was in front of her – he didn't intend to allow her to put herself in danger.
“Garesh, we are not your enemies,” she shouted toward the other guards. “Please let us disarm you and you will be sent home.”
They uncertainly looked at each other, wondering what the others would decide to do. They hesitated and she took at as a good sign.
“We appreciate your conduct and following your orders, however we have our orders,” she continued. “If you disarm yourselves now, nothing will happen to you and, hopefully, you would be able to return to duty soon. Decide now.”
One of guards put his weapon on the floor and went toward them. The Garesh, who protected Jarol, tensed, but once he realised there was no trick on the other man's part, he relaxed. Others hesitated. Precious seconds were passing and Jarol feared guards inside the Castellan's office would soon realise something was happening behind the door.
“We give up,” the Garesh, who spoke earlier, said, putting his weapon away.
“No! Traitor!” another pointed his weapon at the guard as shot him in the back.
“Noooo!” Jarol started toward the fallen man, her guard following her closely and shooting the attacker.
She crouched by the shot man, but he was dead. She felt sorry and disappointed. It's not how she wanted this to happen.
She shook her bleakness away and rose. She had no time to mourn now.
“Take care of his body,” she told her guard and looked at the rest. “Go, go, go!” she ordered energetically, waving toward the office door.
In the meantime either someone notified the guards in the Castellan's office that something was happening outside, or they heard the noises, as the door opened and two men ran outside, phasers in their hands. However they weren't prepared to what they would encounter and they were quickly disarmed in result. Six more of Jarol's team took care of the guards inside. One was fighting them unrelentingly, but was overwhelmed, two offered only weak resistance and the last one gave up immediately. Another group ran inside to secure the area and make sure there were no more guards hiding in adjacent rooms. Finally Jarol herself entered the office with the remainder of her small army. Her men took positions, securing the whole room.
There were two men inside: Alon Ghemor and one more Cardassian, whom she didn't know. Two militiamen went directly to Ghemor's desk and pointed their riffles at his head. Two more did the same in regard of the other man. Ghemor was standing when she entered, but he slowly sat, while she approached him. The other man didn't move, but he attentively observed the situation. Jarol stood between her soldiers and admired the Castellan's calm demeanour.
“Am I going to be executed?” he asked.
“No,” she shook her head. “You have two options. One: you continue your service as the Castellan, but you take orders from us. Shouldn't make much difference to you after all. Orders from us, or orders from the Federation, you're still the same puppet.”
“And option two?”
“You resign your position and you can go home?”
“Just like that?”
“Just like that. We're in no business to kill our own. Enough Cardassians have died in recent years. Which option do you choose?”
“Can I have your word that nothing will happen to my family?”
“You have my word,” she said without hesitation. “I can provide you with an escort, it could include even your own people, if it would make you feel more secure.”
He shook his head. She couldn't help but admire the dignity he accepted all this with.
“What will you do with the Directorate?” he asked.
“Don't worry about them. They are being taken care of too.”
Daset had decided to send Tarkan to deal with old, stubborn pigheads. Jarol supported that idea – Tarkan himself was very close to an old, stubborn pighead, so he would know how to deal with them. She fully trusted he would not switch sides for he was not a stupid
“Forgive me saying this,” said the other Cardassian, “but it doesn't seem to me like you know what you are actually doing.”
“I didn't ask you for your opinion,” she barked.
“No, you did not,” he smiled widely. “But can I ask you one question?”
“Didn't last few years teach you a lesson?”
“Of course they did. They taught me that it's much better to be occupying force than under occupation.”
His smile became wider and... more slimy. Who was that man?
“Take them away,” she ordered and both men were taken outside.
After securing the Castellan's office and sending him home she informed Daset of the situation. He acknowledged receiving her report, but didn't share any information regarding the progress of the other groups. She had to wait and waiting was something she despised.
She went to the window and looked out. She could see an empty park there and one patrol. She went to a window in the other end of the room, which looked out to a street. There were armoured men there, two or three patrols, but none of them kept their weapons in their hands. They just gestured a lot, probably arguing with civilians they were talking to. She hoped it would work, she hoped no one would be hurt this night and tomorrow would mark a start of new age for Cardassia. They just needed to send people home for their own safety.
Ma'Kan entered the room and went to Jarol.
“The government buildings are secured,” she reported. “We had some problems with a few officials, but they were pacified and sent back home.”
“Unharmed, I trust.”
Ma'Kan pulled her face. “Well, some guards offered resistance. As per orders, we targeted their legs, so no fatal casualties on their side. As for us... fourteen dead, seventeen wounded, five of them seriously.
“Did you take care of the wounded?” Jarol sighed.
“Affirmative. I have notified medics of the situation and they are going to provide professional help.”
Jarol nodded. “Good job.”
“Now we wait.”