It took place in the main briefing room, which had been especially decorated for this auspicious occasion. The flags of each of the victorious powers owned a place of pride along the walls. The noble eagle of the Romulan Star Empire, its dual Homeworlds firmly protected in its mighty talons, the blood red trefoil of the glorious Klingon Empire displaying the blood of the countless warriors who had given their lives over the centuries, and the serene blue flag of the august United Federation of Planets encompassing all the stars that sheltered under its loving benevolence.
Two more flags joined the three victors, that of the host planet; that most heroic Third Republic of Bajor, the holy symbol of the Prophets representing the profound and enduring faith of the Bajoran people. Next to it was the flag of the most surprising member of the winning side in this war, the Union of the Cardassians. The sigil of that ancient and mysterious guardian of the legendary Tret Akleen himself, the hooded Galor
, was the centrepiece of the illustrious banner of this most controversial nation state.
The reason why the Cardassians had such a historic place on this very day stood at the head of the table, feeling very uncomfortable.
Castellan Corat Damar stood quietly between Admiral William Ross of Starfleet and Chancellor Martok of the Klingon Empire. Damar had decided to forgone wearing his military uniform, feeling that it would bring too much negativity, especially here of all places. In fact he had made it his first order of business to retire from the Central Command and had planned to either disappear from public life or to stand trial for his actions.
However the need to rebuild the damaged Union and to head off any attempts to infringe upon the sovereignty of same, had required firm leadership and who better to provide it than the legend of the Cardassian Rebellion himself?
Thus, logic and firm reason resulted in a humble freighter Glinn continuing his bewildering rise to the top and to a former drunk failure of a dominion puppet now accepting the surrender of his once erstwhile allies.
What an odd game fate plays with us all,
Damar mused with a rueful inward smile.
His ruminations were interrupted by the arrival of the Dominion signatories. Several unrecognisable Vorta along with two scowling Firsts slowly made their way to the opposite side of the table with the final member bringing up the rear, Weyoun.
The now defunct senior administrator of the Dominion in the Alpha Quadrant stepped toward the centre chair never meeting the eyes of anyone present; his face was even paler than usual as he slumped in his chair, the very image of a broken, beaten man.
“Shall we get started” he spoke in a bitter defeated voice.
The hours passed swiftly as the treaty was finalized. Its resulting terms were, as to be expected, punishing for the invading Dominion. All ships and other military equipment and personnel to leave via the wormhole, no Jem’hadar boot was to remain in the Alpha Quadrant, with the evacuation to be completed within a standard Bajorian week. A number of senior leaders, including Weyoun would remain behind to undergo war crimes trials and the Dominion was to provide reparations to every party that had suffered through this war. Furthermore the Dominion would accept responsibility for all acts of terrorism and war crimes that could be directly attributed to either the Jem’Hadar,Vorta or the Founders.
Since the issue of Cardassian war crimes would be dealt with separately by the four powers, the Dominion also had to accept de facto
blame for the actions of its Breen allies since the Confederacy had not seen fit to send anyone to the signing.
This fact had briefly united all present in mutual disgust at the Breen.
Still, the final treaty signing went ahead without any complications, and as Weyoun signed the document, there seemed to be a general sense of accomplishment amongst all present.
It was finally over.
Admiral William Harold Ross picked up the Padd containing all the signatures that had been required to confirm the treaty and, with a glance around the room, the Starfleet Commander in Chief started to speak.
“Four hundred years ago a victorious general spoke the following words at the end of another costly war...
Today the guns are silent. A great tragedy has ended.”
He paused briefly to take a deep breath. The room remained in a state of deep contemplative silence as he continued;
“We have known the bitterness of defeat and the exultation of triumph and from both we have learned that there can be no going back. We must go forward to preserve in peace what we have won in war”
Damar found himself struggling to maintain his composure as he dwelt upon the heartfelt speech by the admiral, myriad thoughts and emotions rampaging through his mind.
He remembered all the millions of Cardassians who had lost their lives in this war, the worlds that had been devastated and the hash struggles that would follow the ending of this conflict. Then, other events, phrases and moments came to the forefront...
Kira, her eyes locked on his as she caustically asked him in a voice devoid of all pity and feeling, “Yeah Damar, what kinds of people give those orders?”
He had hated her with all the fire and passion in his soul, the causal heartlessness, the complete arrogance. How dare she, how DARE she! Damar stood glaring into her eyes with disgust before silently walking to the cockpit of the runabout, not ready to face the loss of his wife and son.
In the end it was Rusot’s death that had begun the change, once again he gunned someone down in cold blood but this time something better would arise from his ruthlessness. And that night, in an empty compartment of their captured ship, Corat Damar wept for the first time as he accepted the bloodprice for his terrible actions as he mourned the loss of so many, including a certain young women whose only crime was to follow her heart . Something that Corat Damar of Cardassia had never done before...
As he came out of the darkness of his wounded psyche he found that Ross’s powerful words had provided him with the final inspiration he needed. It would be a long and hard road but both he and his people would make that journey across the darkness into the light, he vowed solemnly to himself.
Weyoun slowly made his way up from his chair and with a surprising serenity, chose to respond to the Human’s impassioned entreaty.
“It is my fervent hope and desire that day will mark the end of the cruelty and evil of this war, a war that has cost us all too dearly. In signing this treaty, the Dominion will take its first steps towards true cooperation with the rest of the galaxy and, we shall do whatever it takes to achieve that most noble of goals. And, though it may mean little to all who have lost so much, I hereby apologize for the actions of our people, during this war and throughout our contact with you.”
The Vorta had spoken earnestly, without a trace of his former artifice and mockery. His understated yet powerful words had every single being there present reacting with a surprised feeling of relief and even admiration for the moral courage of their former foe. Silence still reigned as the Dominion delegation made a slow and dignified exit.
Understandably no one spoke or even moved for what seemed forever until on voice broke though the contemplative air.
“I think that this calls for a celebration!” said Damar who was surprisingly upbeat having just made a series of crucial decisions that would create a whole new epoch for his people.
Now, he defiantly needed a drink...