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Old November 5 2010, 02:14 PM   #67
Gul Re'jal
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Location: Gul Re'jal is suspecting she's on the wrong space station
Re: ST: Shaping a Cardassian - The Shadow of the Order

Chapter 6


Cardassian Union Warship Damar
Argaya Sector near the Cardassian Union border
25th day of the month of Lukyut, 532, Cardassian Union Calendar




Gul Brenok and Glinn Zamarran stood in the Transporter Chamber One and observed four members of their crew preparing to board the mysterious vessel. Garesh Aladar, the most skilled transporter operator aboard, was at his post and waited for the signal to beam three Cardassians to the unknown environment. Brenok knew if anyone could bring them back in one piece in case of trouble—it was Garesh Aladar.

“Ya’val, your first task is to disarm booby traps,” Zamarran instructed the chief engineer. “That will allow Kapoor to join you.”

“Yes, sir,” Ya’val dutifully confirmed, although it wasn’t the first time he heard that particular order. Sometimes, if he felt it was extremely important, Zamarran had an irritating habit of repeating the same thing over and over again. Even Brenok was tired of constant reminders of things that had been said. For a Cardassian one time was enough. However Zamarran was only a Cardassian and he had the right to be nervous too—and those never-ending reminders where nothing else but his expression of tenseness.

All three Cardassians on the transporter platform turned on their headgear lights and personal transporter enhancers on their sleeves. The latter was to assure Aladar would be able to beam them back. Since the Damar was unable to scan the guts of the vessel there was a huge possibility that they wouldn’t be able to detect the officers’ patterns to beam them back. In case of the transporter enhancers failure Gil Sabal was ready in a shuttle to bring them back the old-fashioned way.

“Ready?” Brenok asked. All three of them nodded, sealed their headgears and straightened awaiting the transport.



Unknown Cardassian vessel
Argaya Sector near the Cardassian Union border
25th day of the month of Lukyut, 532, Cardassian Union Calendar




They materialised in a corridor. Ya’val looked left and right to check if both tacticians were with him. “Everyone in one piece?” he asked.

“Yes, sir,” they replied.

Ya’val retrieved his scanner but, as expected, it didn’t work. He put it back into his EVA suit pocket and stood for a moment, listening. The ship was supposed to be dead and should be quiet, but he had an impression it breathed. Not a scientific notion, but for him—an engineer—ships were alive. One could hear beating of their hearts and their breathing if one was attentive enough. And he was sure this vessel was far from dead. It was sleeping. It was in a coma. It was not dead.

He looked behind to study the corridor. Ma’Kan turned on the torch on her sleeve and set it to maximum. The wall panels were dark and lifeless, but in the light Ya’val could clearly see masses of dust whirling in the air. Did their appearance cause that?

He looked in the other direction. Everything seemed almost the same; only two things were different: no whirling dust and the corridor split to two opposite directions. The engineer hesitated. He knew they were supposed to be beamed facing the front of the ship as most likely there would be the bridge, but he had no assurance that this had been achieved.

He tapped his wristcomm. “Ya’val to the Damar.”
As he expected, there was no reply. He ignored surprise on Ma’Kan’s face, which was visible through the headgear plate, and moved forward to the junction. He knew the possibility of reaching the warship was close to none, but he had to try to make sure and remove ‘possibility’ factor replacing it with ‘checked’.

Both tacticians followed him; their riffles raised. Ya’val smiled to himself. Just as they suspected the communication with the warship was impossible, the same case applied to a possibility of any hostile persons being aboard the vessel—yet they were ready to shoot, just in case. And he had hailed the warship, just in case.

“What you’re smirking at?” He heard Ma’Kan’s voice inside his headgear. He only shook his head in reply.

They reached the junction and Ya’val stopped, considering his options, or rather lack thereof. He had absolutely no idea where each corridor would take them and if any of them led anywhere near the bridge at all. He decided to take the one turning right. He retrieved a reflective marking sticker from his rucksack and stuck it to the bulkhead. Then he moved on, entering the dark corridor.

The ship moaned. A long, quiet but disturbing sound of screeching metal sent shivers down Ya’val’s spine. He knew the vessel was in pain. He stopped and put his hand to the bulkhead; he felt little through the thick glove, but found the physical contact with the ship reassuring nevertheless. He slowly moved forward, not taking his hand off the bulkhead and sliding it along, which caused appearance of more dusty clouds in the air. The vessel moaned again, no, it laughed this time. A bubbling sound somewhere behind them. Ma’Kan and Dole turned back, but Ya’val didn’t bother—he knew they would see nothing. The sounds came from inside the bulkheads.

No, this ship was not dead.

His hand slid to a control panel. Its general design was typical for Cardassian panels with monitors: square in shape, with limited controls on left and right and a view screen in the middle. However there was something different about this one. This one had access ports and they weren’t anything like Ya’val had ever seen. Thinner than a data rod and with a hook-like protrusion inside the tube. He studied it but didn’t dare to touch it. There were two such ports, one on each side of the screen on the level that would be very convenient for an average height Cardassian to put something inside. Something like the little finger. The engineer fought temptation to take off one glove and push his finger into the opening. He knew the protrusion would slice it along and—if not anything else—that was the best argument against following his impulse.

“There’s a door here.” Ya’val raised his head and looked around to find Ma’Kan as her voice inside his headgear gave no indication where she was standing when she spoke. She was a bit ahead, bathing a door in the light of her torch. Ya’val slowly motioned toward her with Dole just behind him. He studied the door and its surroundings. There was nothing special about it, but the wallcomm drew his attention. It looked just like any other wallcomm with one exception—there was an access port below the long, oval main button, exactly the same as on the wall panel. Even the protrusion seemed identical.

He pressed the button and looked at the door but it didn’t open. “Seems like we have to do it the hard way,” he muttered and put his rucksack on the floor. He knelt and took out several tools with the intention to forcefully open the door, when Dole patted his shoulder and pointed to something. He raised his head to look back at the wallcomm and saw that a small monitor just above it lit. There was one word flashing in red: ‘identification’.

“How come there’s any power?” Ma’Kan asked quietly.

Ya’val didn’t reply for he had no replies. He rose and closed his face to the panel to study it in detail and just then a scanning beam appeared and ran through his face before he had time to step back.

‘Identification failed’, flashed the monitor and after that it went dark.

“Must be something important behind that door,” Dole said. “Maybe the bridge?”

“Maybe,” Ma’Kan agreed.

Or an armoury, or a science lab, or a waste extraction chamber, thought Ya’val. There were many places on a Cardassian ship that had restricted access. Still he could not help but also hope that this was what they were looking for.

He handed one suck-handle to Dole, another one to Ma’Kan and he took a leverage himself. He pushed it into the slit between the door and the wall and tried to force the door to move. The ship resisted, the ship fought him, but he was stubborn and didn’t give up. Both tacticians were pulling too; Ma’Kan was sitting on the floor with her feet against the bulkhead and pushing away, Dole’s one leg also on the bulkhead just below where Ya’val put the leverage in.

“Open, you gapgar!” Ya’val barked angrily, struggling with the door. It was very rare for him to use vulgar language, especially that vulgar, but sometimes even he had to let the steam out. There was nothing worse than to call someone a gapgar—a coarse word for a ‘traitor’.

The ship was not impressed.

“Maybe we should try to burn through,” Ma’Kan suggested.

“We don’t know what is behind,” Ya’val replied. “I don’t want to damage anything.”

“I’ll be careful,” the woman promised.

He could trust the eye of a sniper, couldn’t he? “All right,” he nodded inside his headgear. “But be careful, there could be something inside the door too.”

He observed her retrieving her tools and then looked at Dole. “I’m going to check what’s in the other corridor,” he said. As he expected, the glen raised his riffle in response, ready to accompany him. “Ma’Kan, are you going to be all right?”

“Yes, go ahead.” She didn’t raise her head to look at him.

Ya’val gestured to Dole to follow him and went back. They passed by the junction and continued ahead. There was no door there but the corridor continued into darkness. How far would they go before deciding to return to Ma’Kan?

They walked, listening to the ship's moans and groans. Ya’val noticed that Dole was very nervous; the young man jumped each time the ship 'spoke'. The engineer knew the tacticians were there to provide security against booby traps, but they both behaved as they expected to meet a living adversary.

They arrived to another door. This one—just as the other one—was locked. There was another wallcomm next to it; Ya’val pressed the main button and moved away not to be scanned by the beam. However this time there was no request for identification and no beam. Still, the door remained closed. Ya’val growled; his frustration level was raising.

“This place is strange,” Dole muttered. “Spooky,” he added.

“You're afraid of ships?” Ya’val asked, smiling slightly.

“Of course not!” The glen sounded defensive. Ya’val’s grin widened.

The glinn considered his options: should he try to open this door or would it be better to concentrate on the first one only?

“Let's go back,” he decided.

Dole nodded and headed back; Ya’val had a strong impression that Dole walked faster than necessary.

Ma’Kan was half way through the door when they arrived. She was cutting out a rectangular shape, big enough for them to go through it even in their EVA suits.

“We’ll have to wait for a moment before entering,” Ma’Kan said when she noticed they’ve returned. “The edges must cool down first.”

“Noted.” Ya’val nodded his acknowledgement. “ls there any way we could help?”

“No.”

The engineer sat on the deck and patiently waited, observing anxious Dole. The young tactician kept looking around as if he expected someone to come.

Ya’val’s eyes laid on the control panel by the door. He wished his scanner worked; he could try to learn something about that device. He rose and approached the panel. He thought for a while, then took another tool, a dux sub-spanner, and tried to take off the cover of the device. To his surprise it was easier than expected, unfortunately he achieved nothing as under the cover there was a double ostrix matrix, which was a standard issue for security systems and there was little to none chance he could disarm it. Not before Ma’Kan would cut through the door anyway. He looked back to check her progress and had to admit that, in spite of moving with great care, the cut was getting longer faster than he had thought it would.

“Done,” Ma’Kan said some time later.

“Move away,” Ya’val ordered, standing close to the door and then kicking the rectangular shape with his heel. At first it seemed like there was no effect, but a moment later the metal screeched and the cut out shape fell into the room behind the door. Ya’val, remembering what Ma’Kan had said, moved closer to the opening, but didn’t enter the room; he stuck his head inside, making sure his headgear didn’t touch the hot and jagged edges.



USS Karamazov
Argaya Sector near the Cardassian Union border
Stardate: 73687.8
9th of September, 2396, Old Earth Calendar




Captain th’Arshar was nervous. He waited for the connection as he knew he had to talk to Gul Brenok about their work, but he was unsure how the Cardassian would react to his proposition. He believed his arguments were not without merit, however it was hard to tell if Brenok would share that opinion.

Glinn Karama informed th’Arshar that the captain would be patched through in a second and indeed a moment later the Andorian was looking at the gul’s face.

What can I do for you, Captain?” the Cardassian asked politely.

“Gul Brenok, I wanted to offer my laboratory for the main scope of our work.” He started the speech he had prepared and memorised. “I understand we deal with Cardassian technology, but we have experience with modifying Cardassian and Federation technologies for compatibility. My chief science officer had studied Chief Miles O’Brien’s reports and she familiarised herself with the subject of adapting Cardassian technology to work with Federation technology.” Th’Arshar had a distinct feeling he was babbling. Why was this Cardassian making him so nervous? “O’Brien had to work and adapt Cardassian technology after we took Deep Space Nine, so he is a kind of expert in this matter.” The captain observed the Cardassian’s face. He wasn’t sure what was Brenok’s opinion of the Cardassian withdrawal from Bajor and he didn’t want to annoy the gul. “You might wonder why bother; after all you have your own labs. With all due respect, I believe our labs are more advanced. You are a warship, so limited scientific background is understandable. We are a science ship and we have lots of resources. Therefore we’d like to invite your officers to join the scientific investigation aboard our ship.”

Brenok, at first, didn’t say anything. He only stared at th’Arshar. After a long moment, during which th’Arshar tried to read the Cardassian’s face and failed, the gul said: “What do you have in your science lab that we don’t?”

The Andorian cleared his throat. “As I understand, there is no science department aboard a Cardassian warship.” Brenok confirmed by nodding. “Our starship’s mission is science; we are more prepared for instances like this one than any other Sabre class vessel.” Th’Arshar knew he had to convince Brenok that the Cardassians needed him and his crew or they could pack their bags, so to speak, and leave.

All right, Captain,” the gul said finally. “We will work aboard your starship, however you have no power over my team’s personnel choice. Whomever I decide to include in the team and whoever boards your ship, your people will have to work with them.

“Of course.” Th’Arshar nodded eagerly.

For your information: my team is aboard the vessel as we speak. They are attempting to disarm any traps and automatic security protocols.

“How are they doing?”

We don’t know, we have no contact. We wait for their signal.

How weird, th’Arshar thought. They had sent their people, they have no idea how the away team is doing and if they aren’t already dead. Do these people treat everyone as expendable? Don’t they care even about their own comrades?

“What kind of signal?” he asked.

Since all communication is jammed and we have limited scanning abilities we had to find another way to communicate. The boarding party is equipped with a special beacon, which can send strong pulses. Those pulses are strong enough to go through the interference of the ship. One pulse means ‘beam us back’.
“I see. Makes sense,” th’Arshar admitted, wondering how many signals the Cardassians established. Brenok did specify that one indicated the request for a beam out. What did two signals, three signals and more signals mean?

Peaceful co-operation or not, there still was more things they didn’t share than they did.

“Gul Brenok, l would appreciate if you’d inform me of the progress of your away team. We are ready to offer any assistance you may need.”

Brenok smiled. “I’ll let you know as soon as l know anything myself. Anything else?

“No, that would be all. Thank you.” Th’Arshar signed off and just then, after Brenok’s face disappeared from the screen, he let himself release the air out of his lungs.

He was no diplomat, he was a scientist. He knew the difference between copper voltameter and copper electrodes, but he didn’t know how to talk to a Cardassian without starting an interstellar conflict. And Gul Brenok was not just another ordinary Cardassian—this man had whole Cardassian military under his command and if he wanted to attack the Federation it would take only one word to do just that. So far Brenok seemed reasonable, but he had not appeared on the dinner and th’Arshar even for a second didn't buy Zamarran’s story about being busy. There was a real reason why Brenok hadn't come and th’Arshar found it both infuriating and worrying that he didn’t know what it was.


Cardassian Union Warship Damar
Argaya Sector near the Cardassian Union border
25th day of the month of Lukyut, 532, Cardassian Union Calendar



Glinn Karama was busy analysing chaotic signals which the Damar was receiving from the mysterious ship. He was frustrated because he could not make any sense of them. While working, he kept glancing at the main viewscreen in front of him on which he could see the vessel. He also could not forget the strange script on its hull.

He was reading data on his console’s monitor when he heard someone emitting a loud gasp. He looked up at the view screen and his eyes opened wide in fear and worry. His first thought was: did Amrita beam aboard yet? He resisted the urge to call the transporter room to ask if his wife was still aboard the Damar. Instead, he pressed the comm and said: “Gul Brenok, please report to the bridge.”

The door to Brenok’s office opened and the gul stepped onto the bridge. “Report,” he barked. Then his eyes went to the main screen and he asked with incredulity, “Where is the ship?”

Engineering to the bridge.” Zamarran's voice sounded through the comm. “We have lost the scanning lock on the vessel.
“I would imagine,” Brenok replied. “The ship is not there.”

What?” The way Zamarran asked his question told Karama everything about gul’s aide’s state of mind. Glinn Zamarran would never snap like this—certainly not as a reaction to his commander's words—on duty. This was too...colloquial for him. And too rude.

“lt has vanished,” Karama explained, looking at dispersing black cloud, which had surrounded the vessel and now was ‘empty’. “It was there and then it just dissolved in space.” The glinn looked at his console and noticed a hail from the Karamazov. “Captain th’Arshar wants to speak with you, Gul.”

“I reckon he would,” Brenok replied. “Put him through.”


tbc
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