Spirodopoulos’ eyes went wide. Then he let out a bellowing laugh, doubling over to where his cuirass squeaked audibly with every paroxysm, as it folded.
Now it was Yejain’s turn to raise an eye ridge at the terhăn
commander. “Have I said something vulgar?”
“Hardly, Glinn!” Spirodopoulos forced out between laughs. “It’s just that most Federation-Standard speakers have no idea...but it's actually the influence of my native
“Cardăsda is the native language of every
Cardassian,” Yejain said. “It must be confusing with so many different languages.”
“Not really,” he said. “We do
all have a common language that we speak when we deal with people not from our homelands. But we have more than one accepted dialect. Your dictionary was giving you pronunciations from the two most common ones. Because of where my grandparents are from, I learned a different dialect than most people did in Griys
.” Yejain took this to mean the region on Earth where Spirodopoulos was born. “And I ended up saying something other than lef
tenant, even though most everyone else from my part of the world says it that way. Even though it would otherwise be really tempting for me as a Griyk
Yejain made a thoughtful noise. “Bayhokrol edek
,” he mused. I might understand
. Truth be told, he wasn’t
sure exactly how the terhăn-çăs
coped if even their standard language had such great variation. But there would be time to find out more about that later. “But back to the point—we are not a small cell of terrorists.” The glinn’s lip curled ever so slightly at the word. “We are still a force of over 1500 soldiers, yourselves included. Sound logistics for a group that size…even within your contingent…requires that formal order and discipline must
be maintained. After all, we can’t administer it to all face-to-face. We have certainly seen you do that
,” Yejain added when he noticed Spirodopoulos’ face growing harder and harder to read, “but this
is part of it too.”
“What happened with the Turrel
is something that should be studied,” Gul Berat added. “We escaped damage—a greater failure—but that’s no reason not to fully investigate the lesser failures that led up to it. And of course, the good choices that were made.” Now he’s getting into it!
Yejain grinned inwardly—though he never showed a bit of it on his face. Berat was as precise as any Cardassian…when he wanted to be…but the mental energy to attend to some of the more administrative tasks of command came to him in bursts, and occasionally he needed a little respectful prodding. Now that Berat was framing it in terms of an engineering failure investigation, Yejain knew he had him hooked. “Will you help us, Commander?”
,” Spirodopoulos answered in Cardăsda, “Lourol ça’adav edek. Ge’…yokov nithur hec ci’irdas edikouv edek
Yejain lifted an eye ridge. He had understood, I will help you.
The man’s accent wasn’t bad—and now that he knew Spirodopoulos had grown up with two languages, he supposed that lent a bit of extra flexibility to his tongue. But what did the terhăn
mean by ‘need with time my people’
? Then it dawned on him. “Not bad! But I believe you mean ‘nithur ci’irdas-hec çadou
Comprehending now, Gul Berat interjected: “You will
still have time with your people. You don’t think we would do that to you, do you?” Berat’s lips smiled and his eyes tried to as well, but his voice could not. Yejain’s first instinct was to suspect the pain was particularly bad in that moment. But this didn’t look like that
kind of pain, the internal electrocution that at its worst would likely paralyze a lesser man. Something’s eating at him
, Yejain thought.
Spirodopoulos folded his hands, straightened decisively, and met eyes with Gul Berat. “No, I do not.”
“Then the pertinent parts of our database will be opened to you,” Berat said. “We will reconvene on conference at the end of your next shift. And Commander…you’ll find that other materials have been made available to you as well. That includes continuing language lessons you can access.
“There’s just one thing about those lessons I should caution you about.” Berat broke eye contact—a clear Cardassian sign of shame, though Yejain would have to make sure to warn Berat of what his counterpart aboard the Trager
had told him about the way some terhăn-çăs
interpreted that signal. “They were initially uploaded to the Sherouk
database to give the colonists on Volan III. They were intended not just to teach the language, but what their place was supposed to be in the Cardassian Union.”
“You mean indoctrination,” Spirodopoulos muttered.
Berat acknowledged with a thoughtful cant of the head. “I suppose that’s a fitting word. I would suggest using the basic material that’s available to get familiar with our writing system…but you might prefer more practical texts to test your skills, and actual dialogues with members of our crew.”
More practical, yes, but more importantly, less offensive
, Yejain silently added. The former Federation citizens had
been in dire need of an education on how to function as productive parts of the Cardassian Union, judging from their atrocious behavior—then again as Gul Berat had reminded his co-conspirators, those colonists had been sold
by their own people, violently uprooted from the hierarchy into which they had been born. While it didn’t justify the terrorism, it certainly explained the hostility.
“I guess that would be wise,” the terhăn
answered. “I’ll be sure to warn anyone else who takes those courses. Have you already opened that part of the database for all of my people?”
“We will as soon as we’re clear to signal the other ships,” Berat said.
“Then I’ll communicate that to my lieutenants at that point as well. I will be transporting to the Turrel
at that time as well.”
Yejain nodded—best for Spirodopoulos to show his sigil after what had transpired. “I will show you the way.” Despite having spent a few days aboard the Gălor
-class ships, many of the Star’hvliyt-çăs
had yet to learn their way around their ships. Glinn Yejain couldn’t imagine functioning with such a limited memory capacity…yet one thing that had to be said for the terhăn-çăs
, and by extension the Federation, was that they advanced rapidly in many fields nonetheless.
I’m not sure whether it’s actually a matter of their mental capacity or their training
, Daro had said when Yejain asked him about it back on Lessek. Either way, the fact stands that their culture accommodates their abilities. One thing you’ll notice about dealing with them is that they have a tremendous capacity for
finding information, and synthesizing it into the form they want. They don’t always remember things so much as they remember the process of getting to them. Maybe it’s a skill they have because with enough time, the very same person can look at the same object with almost ‘new eyes.’
Yejain had accepted the explanation and did his best to see this man according to his people’s standards, not those of a Cardassian. It wasn’t easy, especially with his supplementary training, but no less would suffice here.
As Spirodopoulos rose to leave, his wristcomm chirped, and after a second’s hesitation, he tapped it on. “Commander
.” It was Dalin
Rota.“Communications have been restored, and I have a signal from the
Trager addressed to your urgent attention.
He glanced at the Cardassians in the room—then nodded. “Put it through.”
The gravelly yet oddly youthful voice on the other end belonged to the Trager
’s chief medical officer, Istep. There was no cheer in that voice now, though. The computer’s audio pickups were boosting the volume on a voice hardly louder than a whisper. “One of your people was in an accident trying to repair a conduit. She survived the shock, she’s conscious and should make a full recovery, but she seems to have taken my attempt to examine her as some kind of…
” Istep hissed the next words. “Some kind of thrice-burned attempt at
assault! She needs treatment, but I cannot
reason with this woman! Her remarks border on a death threat, Commander…please, I need you to come down here and get her to calm down so I can
So that’s how low we have fallen
, Yejain thought bitterly. He knew Istep by reputation—and there was no way, no way
Istep would ever do anything even remotely
that degrading. But that was what the aliens assumed. Yejain studied Spirodopoulos—Berat too.
His face was stone, but his green eyes smoldered. “I’m on my way. Gul—you’ll have to excuse me.”
“Of course,” said Berat with a curt nod. “Go—I will notify the transporter room.” But before he could leave, he caught the lieutenant commander’s eyes. “It’s a misunderstanding,” he declared. “I am sure of it.” Then Yejain knew. He still mistrusts! All of this—and he still cannot recognize who we are!
Those test results on the Trager
’s battle wounds could not come soon enough. And even if they did, would they stop Spirodopoulos from swinging back and forth from faith to disbelief? If he didn’t commit to a path soon, then the outburst from Istep’s patient would only be the beginning. First Starfleet—and then discontent among his own people as well. Glinn Yejain knew then that his next stop would be to his own ship’s sickbay, to speak with the convalescing Iymender, and then a call to Glinn Va’Kust: for now, all he could do was research the dossiers of the men and women they had brought with them from Lessek. They might not have the full power of Central Command’s database with them—and even then the database might not be safe to search in certain ways if any Dominion or old Obsidian Order failsafes still hadn’t been deprogrammed—but Yejain had made do with such limitations for his entire career. He would know the signs when he saw them.
The Obsidian Order is dead—but if their descendants have followed us into space
, Yejain fretted, and they see even the slightest signs of weakness or failure, they will strike. They may be going along with it now because we oppose the ones who crippled their power base, but that won’t last if Spirodopoulos breaks. He has no idea what sort of flood he is holding back.