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Old November 8 2010, 05:00 AM   #71
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 7


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



Gil Sabal sat in one of the Damar’s shuttles and waited. He sincerely hoped his services wouldn’t be required this time.

And he was thinking.

He looked at the mysterious vessel on the small shuttle screen and was desperately trying to make a decision. He has been serving in the Guard for almost fifteen years now and he has given the military nothing less than his best. He never had to choose...until now. Sabal considered himself a man of honour; someone who didn’t break once given word and now he was facing a choice between the word given twenty five years ago and another one given fifteen years ago.

For him this vessel wasn’t as mysterious as for everyone else. He didn’t know that particular configuration but he knew smaller ones of similar type. He had been a test pilot for them. Nothing he knew was critical, but it would shed some light on their current problem, it would answer a few questions, for example: what was the origin of this ship? Sabal was torn between loyalty to the organisation that existed no more and his current gul and crew.

Gul Brenok knew, of course, of Sabal’s past—the gil wasn’t that stupid not to inform his commander of that—but he left it to Brenok’s discretion if to inform the rest of the crew or not. He suspected the gul chose to tell Glinn Zamarran too, but no one else seemed to know. Maybe it was for the best; one never knew how ordinary Cardassians would react to such a revelation and Sabal didn’t want to alienate anyone because of misunderstanding of his role in that particular Cardassian organisation.

He observed the not-so-mysterious-for-him vessel dissolve. “I really hoped it wouldn’t be the case,” he muttered to himself.



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




“No, no, no...” Panic flooded Aladar’s heart. His fingers moved over the panel faster than light but he knew it was hopeless; the transporter lock was lost and he could not find the target again. It was simply gone. He vaguely realised that Kapoor approached him and asked questions but he ignored her, because answering her would mean losing his concentration and the away team’s lives depended on how he would proceed now.

He absent-mindedly pressed the comm button and said, “Transporter Chamber One to the bridge. I have lost the lock on the away team.”

We know, Transporter Chamber One.” Aladar did not expect to hear Karama’s voice. Where were Brenok or Zamarran? “The ship has vanished.”

Aladar looked at Kapoor whose face became pale.

“Do you know what has happened?” she asked.

Negative.” Aladar could swear some tension disappeared from Karama’s voice. It was not hard to guess that the communication officer was relieved to hear his wife’s voice as it meant she was not aboard the now gone vessel.

The garesh kept punching the buttons, attempting to retrieve as much information as he could. “Sir,” he said, “I think I have seen something like this before.”

What do you mean?” came Brenok’s voice.

“During the war.”

Kopoor gave Aladar an astonished look.

Elaborate,” Aladar felt panic grasping his throat—the gul sounded irritated and the garesh didn’t enjoy the thought of talking to angry Brenok.

“Gul, it looked awfully like a Romulan ship cloaking.”

The silence on the bridge told him that the senior officers were as shocked as he was. Kapoor stared at him with her mouth wide open.



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



“What did you do?!” Ma’Kan yelled at Ya’val, not really caring that he outranked her.

“I guess this was not a security protocols disable button,” he smiled sheepishly.

“What was it then?” her tone a little more respectful now.

“According to this,” he said, pointing to one of readings, “a cloaking device has been activated.”

“A what?”

“Don’t look at me!” Ya’val raised his hands in a defensive gesture. “I did disable security protocols, but for some reason the cloak was activated too. As I see it: they are both regulated by the same button and command or something else triggered the cloak. There is a separate sub-console for the cloak though.”

“Turn it off. We need to hail the Damar. Can we do it?”

“That’s the problem, I can’t turn it off,” Ya’val frowned over the tactical console. “Here are the controls for the cloak, but they don’t respond.”

Ma’Kan went to him and looked at the console. The engineer moved away to let her have a better access if she decided to try some tactician’s tricks, but she only stared at the shiny surface. “This configuration is heavily modified,” she judged.

“No kidding,” Ya’val rolled his eyes. She eyed him irritated. She could never understand how come they could be friends off duty and have such a terrible relation on duty?

She liked Ya’val. She thought he was incredibly attractive and amazingly smart; but somehow on duty his handsome face became smug and his handsome brain became annoying. She didn’t know if it was him—if his attitude changed the moment he donned his armour—or her—the moment she had to co-operate with him. Shouldn’t their friendship help in their professional lives instead of making them more difficult? Or was it the fact that he outranked her and they worked on the same warship and that made it impossible to follow “the attractive” part? It worked for Karama and Kapoor, but she was a human and she was allowed to ignore Cardassian customs. Ma’Kan couldn’t find herself doing that.

She inwardly sighed. What was it that she always fell for men that were beyond her reach; first it was Gul Brenok—a glinn then—and now Glinn Ya’val.

“Are you sure it was you who activated the cloak?” she asked the engineer.

“No, I’m not,” he replied, shaking his head.

“If you didn’t then who did?” Dole asked behind them.

“And that is a good question,” Ya’val said. He went over to the engineering console and accessed the environmental controls. To his relief there was no security code required to activate the console. First he checked the power reserves; they were sufficient for a short-time ship operations, but if thee away team wouldn’t access the engineering soon and start whatever core there was they would have to find a way to supply the vessel externally. He made another attempt to drop the cloak but each time it seemed like he succeeded, something else was belaying his commands, almost as someone was cancelling every instruction he entered. “You are one stubborn ship,” he said under his breath, but the microphone picked it up and transmitted to Ma’Kan’s and Dole’s headgears; both officers gave him a significant glare—it was no secret Ya’val talked to machines, but most of Cardassians didn’t understand why he did that.

“Can we at least contact our warship?” the female tactician asked impatiently.

“As surprising as it is, I believe we can.” Ya’val’s face behind the headgear plate stretched in a smile.



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




“Garesh Aladar, are you telling me that the ship has cloaked?” Brenok asked the transporter operator over the comm.

I cannot be sure, sir, but it looked very much like it,” Aladar confirmed. “This is what our—the Roumar’s—sensors had been detecting when we were in battles with Romulans... Or chasing them to annihilate them when the cowards were running away.”

“Gul, we are being hailed,” Karama reported.

“Th’Arshar again?” Brenok didn’t want to talk to the Federation captain again. One conversation—or rather a set of accusations from th’Arshar—was enough for whole day.

“No.” Karama shook his head. “I am not sure where... Wait a...” He stared at his console for a moment and then looked up at the gul who stood just next to him with his right hand leaning on Karama’s console. “It’s Ya’val.”

Brenok, who was looking at the emptiness on the screen, abruptly shifted his eyes to the communication officer’s face. “Open the channel,” he said in a forced levelled voice. It took all his inner strength not to snap.

Gul Brenok.” Ya’val’s voice was slightly distorted. “This is Glinn Ya’val. We have accessed some kind of control centre, but I doubt it’s the bridge. There’s not enough control over the whole vessel from here.”

“Can you uncloak this thing?” Brenok asked.

I am attempting too, but something is overriding my commands.”

“Sir,” said Karama, tapping buttons on his panel. “We are receiving a message.” He frowned.

“What kind of message?” Brenok asked when Karama didn’t continue; this tim he didn’t hide his annoyance.

“That’s the problem, I cannot tell. However, I can tell for sure it is carried on the same wave as our communication with Ya’val. And...” Karama didn’t continue and it took all Brenok’s strength not to slap the officer’s head. The gul knew Karama did his best; he also knew Karama’s best was not sufficient this time.

“Well?” he asked finally.

“It...is coded. I believe it is...”

Brenok growled, his irritation reaching maximum levels, and leaned over Karama’s head to read from the console himself. His anger subsided when he realised why the communication officer didn’t finish his sentence. He pressed his wristcomm and said, “Gil Sabal, report to the bridge.” After the pilot acknowledged, the gul looked at Karama. “Start decoding it.”

The glinn nodded and made himself busy. A while later Sabal entered the bridge.

“My office,” Brenok barked, nodding toward the door above five stairs. Sabal followed the gul with a worried look on his face. Brenok didn’t enter far into the room, he stood just by the door and waited for Sabal to join him.

“What do you know?” he asked as soon as the door closed behind them. “Everything,” he added.

“I do not know this particular class, sir. But I had piloted ships that looked very similar to this one.”

“The cloak.”

“The ship’s similarity to other experimental vessels and the presence of the Romulan—I’m guessing it’s Romulan—cloak suggest that this ship was constructed in Orias system.”

Brenok squinted, digesting the revelation. “Is there anything else you can tell me?” he asked. Sabal shook his head. “Are you sure? If I learn you hide some information, any information, I will have you executed.”

“Sir, I don’t know anything about this particular vessel. I have never seen it before and even things I have told you just now are only a guess.” He silenced for a moment and then continued, “If I believed this ship posed any danger to our people, I would have come to you earlier. But I didn’t and I still don’t. It is some failed and forgotten experiment, that’s all.”

Brenok clenched his jaws. “There were no ‘forgotten experiments’ in the Obsidian Order,” he hissed. “What are you hiding?”

“Nothing, sir,” the gil said eagerly. “Nothing, sir. I wouldn’t dare to lie to you. It is possible, however, that this experiment was...” he tried to find another word to replace ‘forgotten’, “misplaced after the Order was destroyed by the Founders.”

The gul eyed the gil suspiciously. Sabal looked Brenok in the eyes and Brenok tried to read the pilot’s face, trying to find proofs of his honesty or his falsehood. He was angry with him. He suspected that the vessel might have something to do with the infamous Obsidian Order, but since Sabal didn’t come to him he hoped it wouldn’t be the case. He was wrong. He was also disappointed that the gil put his loyalty to the Order before his loyalty to his current assignment. He believed Sabal wouldn’t risk his fellow officers’ lives, but what would happen if the pilot’s assessment of the risk was flawed?

“You will now assist Glinn Karama in decoding one of your codes, but rest assured this conversation is not over,” Brenok’s voice was full of irony.

“Yes, my Gul.”

It didn’t escape Brenok’s attention that Sabal used very old, very traditional and very submissive way to address him. He understood the gil’s message: you are my commander now, I listen to you, I am loyal to you; he did nothing to acknowledge the pilot’s show of obedience.

Sabal returned to the bridge and Brenok emitted a deep, borbollar growl. He was mad. He took a few deep breaths, trying to cover his anger, and also returned to the bridge.

“Sir,” Karama said as soon as Brenok was within his sight. “Captain th’Arshar hails us.”

“Ignore the blue bitch,” Brenok barked. “Get on that code. I want to know what that message says. Aladar,” he said, opening the comm channel to the transporter chamber. “Can you beam them back?” He knew it was unlikely, but he hoped Aladar could pull a rabbit out of his hat—the garesh was good at finding solutions to seemingly unsolvable problems.

Negative, Gul. Not until they drop the cloak.” The garesh’s voice sounded apologetically.

“Stand by,” Brenok told him and then checked if the channel to the cloaked vessel was still opened. “Ya’val, since we can’t beam you back and, I assume, you can’t drop the cloak and beam yourselves back, continue the exploration.”

Acknowledged.”

“We have received some kind of message from the vessel.”

I know, Glinn Karama told me about it.”

“I want to know if this is an automatic message or someone sent it.” It seemed very unlikely that there was anyone on that ship, but somehow Ya’val’s attempts to drop the cloak failed and the message attached itself to the comm wave. Something, or someone, made a decision to smuggle that piece of data hidden in the open comm channel and Brenok didn’t accept it as a coincidence.

The gul sat in his chair and accessed his command panel. He looked up at the door when it opened to admit Zamarran to the bridge. The glinn went to him and stood by his chair.

“Do we have any answers or only more questions?” he asked.

“Questions.”

Zamarran eyed his gul and Brenok knew his aide realised that the commander was furious.

It wasn’t the Obsidian Order ship that was getting on Brenok’s nerve. It wasn’t the mystery. It was his crew’s performance. They were totally inefficient and unprofessional. He had never seen them performing that badly. Sabal hid information. Karama couldn’t compose himself and acted like a child that was shown a big box of new, strange toys. Ya’val achieved nothing and Brenok couldn’t be even sure if he would get his engineer back alive. Nagging Federation captain was not helping either. He made the decision to ask Jarol to deny the Federation any further access to the project. They were not helping, all they did was disturbing him and his crew. He had never asked the legate any favours, using their personal relationship, but this was the time he had to do that. He didn’t know why she wanted the Karamazov here in the first place and right now he didn’t care. He just wanted them to leave.

He looked at Zamarran and brought him up to date. The glinn frowned at the mention of the Obsidian Order but he didn’t say anything.

“Since we know the position of the vessel, we could fire at them with hope that we would take their cloak down,” Zamarran suggested but his voice sounded sceptical. Brenok shook his head. “I know, it’s too great a risk for our people aboard,” the glinn voiced his and his gul’s doubts. “Maybe we could ask the Federation if they know anything about Romulan cloaking devices. They were—maybe even still are—allies with the Romulans; they could know something.”

The gul gave his aide a careful look. “Talk to them. And talk to Kapoor too,” he decided.

If Zamarran was surprised to be chosen for this task, he didn’t show it.

“Sir,” Karama spoke from behind his console, turning back to face Brenok. “We have decoded the message. It’s very short. It says,” he paused and Brenok was just about to snap at him but the glinn finished, “help us.”
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In a Cardassian library or in a Cardassian gallery?

"Reagan, it appears, is really only an ardent unionist if the unions in question are in Poland" - Stephen King, Skeleton Crew
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