OK...as promised, here's a much longer section, to conclude Chapter 19.
Glinn Yejain followed his commanding officer, simultaneously keeping a close eye on Spirodopoulos. The Starfleet officer gave no sign of concern at having the wiry executive officer at his back…nothing to indicate that he’d realized the speed and depth of martial arts skill Yejain could wield at a moment’s notice if given any reason to believe Spirodopoulos posed a threat to Berat.
That was one of the things that had made him deeply skeptical of dealing with the Vedrayçda
: they didn’t think like that in their society, they had neither instinct nor the training to look beyond surface pleasantries. They had even handed their own worlds over
to the Union as a ‘solution’ to a border war that—at least to that point—had never even threatened their core worlds. Did they care that they had only shown Central Command weakness? How could they ever understand what it meant to navigate a world that could never be distilled neatly into their simplistic paradigms, where tough decisions had to be made and blood sometimes had to be spilled?
And the terhăn-çăs
—their reputation was that of one of the most volatile species of all. Not in the sense of a race like the klin’ça-çăs
, whose ancient and belligerent culture made them predictable, simple to manipulate, and quite restricted, in most cases, in the innovativeness of their tactics…emotionally, the people of Terhăn Terăm
were much more like Cardassians than that. But they were inherently chaotic, unpredictable in other ways…one never knew when they would fight, when they would surrender, when they would hold to their rules, and when they would throw them to the wind. Perhaps it was a product of their short lifespans, which even the best of their medical science could do only so much for.
That chaotic nature, coupled with their naiveté, had led Yejain to caution Berat against joining a rebellion intended to include them
. But Spirodopoulos…he wasn’t quite what Yejain had expected. It wasn’t just the Cardassian armor he now wore, or even his efforts to speak their language…it was something about the words he spoke, the way he carried himself, that didn’t seem quite as alien
as everything he knew had led him to believe.
Yejain’s eyes focused now on Berat. Even now, folded behind his back, the tremors in his hands were unmistakable—though to Yejain, it read as little more than a heightened state of readiness. Unlike the rest of the Sherouk
’s senior officers, he had never known Gul Berat before the assassination attempt, nor even heard his name until the Maciy
attack and Legate Ghemor’s intervention to save Berat’s life and his command. Someone, disgusted by this intervention to save a defeated ‘cripple,’ had finally talked—finally said something
, however insignificant, that the Obsidian Order could use to move on the legate, whose position otherwise would have protected him. Yejain had tried to warn Ghemor of the personal risks he would incur by sparing Berat from the execution he should have faced for his defiance…however good of an officer he might have been…but the legate had refused to listen.
And when he had first heard that he
, Bresul Yejain, was to become the first officer of the Sherouk
and aide to its peculiar gul, he had felt…betrayed, almost. True, a shipboard position was more prestigious in some ways, more conducive for career advancement—but Yejain didn’t think like that most of the time. Why, at a time when Legate Ghemor needed the protection he could offer as a member of Central Command’s clandestine intelligence corps more than ever, would he send him away?
Central Command—however wrongheaded they could be sometimes…they could at least be understood
. First came an action, then a rule, then a prescribed consequence, all of it clear to the naked eye. For the Obsidian Order…causality had a tendency to be rather warped. Seditious tendencies
, treacherous intentions
, religious feelings
, political necessities
, all of these were enough for the Obsidian Order to move, before the object of their attentions could even consider committing a crime.
In more capable hands, Central Command could do Cardassia proud. The Obsidian Order—they were corrupt to the core. To serve was prime—yet service without sense
in it was meaningless…a farce. Ghemor understood that too, in his own way, and ever so carefully, he had brought the operative to the same understanding: that something crucial had to change.
The Obsidian Order may have feared
no one, but Yejain held no delusions that they had not discovered exactly who and what he was, and that they did not at least consider the additional obstacle one such as him might put in the way of any of their plans to take down Legate Ghemor.
Then again…Ghemor had likely understood all of the risks—and done it all anyway.
And set Yejain at a remove from him before the inevitable fall from grace. For something had changed during his three-year tenure at Central Command: the glinn had married. He had a wife and a family now. It was dangerous enough for them all for him to belong to the Obsidian Order’s direct rival…far more so to be affiliated with them and
a dissident legate at the moment of said legate’s arrest.
Once Yejain had assumed his post aboard the Sherouk
, he’d come to understand Ghemor’s sacrifice. And once he’d gotten to know the man Ghemor had chosen him to serve under, he understood that
as well, far more than just the hints he’d had before: what Berat’s physical disabilities hid in the eyes of most was a just commander of a sort that the Cardassian Guard could use far more of. Berat, like Ghemor before him, could be trusted
. And that, for a man who responded as strongly to the hierarchical instinct as Yejain did, meant everything. And especially after Ghemor’s exile, which came exactly as Yejain had predicted, and his untimely death…Yejain needed that trustworthiness.
Glinn Yejain remained standing until Berat came around his desk and sat, hands folded away out of sight—something Berat would not have felt necessary with just the two of them alone. Then Yejain sat. Spirodopoulos followed the glinn’s lead and took the other chair. Yejain cautioned himself not to read this late move as deference…simply a species difference. That
, Yejain supposed, and the fact that he’s having to adjust to his position as well as to this culture.
Though age was difficult to tell on certain mammalians given the effect sunlight had on their skins, Spirodopoulos looked as though he were closer to Yejain’s age than Berat’s. Yet on a terhăn
…they looked so much like Bajorans yet aged more quickly. Most likely the man was younger than he appeared.
As soon as the door shut behind them, Berat allowed himself to lean back a bit. “There was something you wanted to discuss?”
“Yes, Gul. I realize our connection to the Guard is tenuous right now…but I submit that Rebek will still want an incident report from us about that near miss we just had with the Turrel
.” And of course from Dalin
Ostevor as well—the ship’s acting commander, and Gul Rebek’s subordinate. Yejain felt a bit sorry for Ostevor; much like Spirodopoulos, he too was learning his position. A subtle, sympathetic grin crossed Berat’s face…he must have thought the same thing.
“And Commander,” he added with a nod at Spirodopoulos, “I…encourage your assessment as well.” It sounded like Berat had almost required
it—but reconsidered his wording. Though Spirodopoulos might hold a position something like a dalin
at home, neither he nor the gul dared leave no doubt of the extensive scope and nature of this man’s authority in the Thirteenth Order. “Especially since your idea was so integral to the solution.”
Spirodopoulos gave an ironic laugh. “No good deed goes unpunished, I suppose.”
“What?” Berat sat up stiffly. “That was a compliment, not a rebuke—”
’s bioelectric field surged and Yejain’s head whipped around; the mammalian’s heart beat so quickly that at first Yejain had mistaken it for outright panic. And I did not improve matters with that gesture
, Yejain observed. I shall have to “recalibrate” my
krilătbre-yezul to account for our differences
“Oh, no, no—I’m sorry, Gul, Glinn…I never intended for it to come across that way.” Spirodopoulos held up his hands in a placating gesture. “It’s a human saying…at least it was
human—now you hear it all over Starfleet. Sometimes people mean it snidely, but sometimes it’s just a joke. Especially
when it comes to paperwork.”
Berat digested the information. “I think I see now.” He leaned back in his chair, glancing slyly at Glinn Yejain.
At that, the Starfleet officer allowed himself a bit of a smile. “In all seriousness, though…I have to admit I’m a little surprised we’re taking the time out of a rebellion for bureaucratic stuff. It’s not like we have admirals and thă’ăkliv
to answer to.” Yejain blinked: there was a reason Federation Standard had named the rank ‘legate’ rather than actually trying to pronounce it. But that hadn’t stopped Spirodopoulos from trying.
he’d said, though, had been more surprising. Just how lax was
Starfleet? Then again, if he was just a dalin
at home— “Commander,” Yejain asked, “if I may, what is the largest number of people you’ve had under your direct command?” Spirodopoulos hesitated. Of course…he thinks I would infer the force strength of his last posting from his answer
. “It’s not necessary to say where or when.”
“This is it,” he admitted.
“I see. If the three of us—” Yejain touched the diamond on his cuirass and circled his index finger between them. “—were operating as our own resistance cell, I would agree.” Or a cadre of operatives against the Obsidian Order
, he added silently. “Even in your previous commands it may have been possible to gain a good idea of what was going on simply through your...loutenentz
? How do you get this sound…” Yejain struggled, making a sound that resembled ‘hv
’ in place of the Vedrayçda
.’ “…from a spelling that has no such letter?”