Thanks for reading and commenting. I hope I can do the Sisko-Glover talk justice, but until I get to that, here's another entry.
Somewhere in the Beta Quadrant....
Legate Pinute Tarkon stormed into the room, the medals adorning his chest clanking in rhythm with each hard step from his polished boots. Behind him followed two guards, in heavily padded brown armor that belonged more to the era when Tarkon mastered warships and not paperwork. The younger men awkwardly held their rifles.
Despite Tarkon’s exalted position, his retinue was afraid that he trod on dangerous ground. The old legate was inclined to agree with them, but his duty trumped his trepidation. The palpable fear was reinforced by the black clad, silent men accompanying them into the bowels of Obsidian Order headquarters. The two men hung back, and Pinute could only imagine they were sizing up his huge back to find the best place to insert their daggers.
Tarkon’s quick eyes took in the scene before him. Two Romulan soldiers, roughly the same ages as Tarkon’s guards, were carefully unhooking the dead Reman from his harness. The porcelain-skinned, hairless Reman was swaddled in a crisscross of wires and circuits, some leading directly from his skull.
Overseeing them was a tall, ascetic Romulan garbed in a dark gray, thatched uniform also worn by his fellow Tal Shiar subordinates. The locus of Tarkon’s ire stood behind the Romulans, hunched over a flat master display screen.
“Shau Darcis,” Tarkon could barely keep himself from snarling. “This little experiment of yours is at an end. The drone ship has been eliminated.”
The barrel chested Obsidian Order operative turned around slowly. In one hand he held a personal access display device. Tarkon was surprised that the man’s other hand wasn’t clutching a disruptor. Instead he was pecking on the small rectangular device. “Leave it to the Central Command to grow skittish even in victory.”
Whereas Darcis should’ve been humiliated by Tarkon’s intrusion, the man smiled confidently instead. “This was a successful first run,” Darcis added.
“There won’t be another,” Tarkon stated, his tone brooking no dissent. He bowed stiffly in the direction of the Romulans. “Colonel Lovok, please inform your superiors that the Union wishes to continue our cordial relationship with the Star Empire despite the deactivation this joint venture.”
The colonel stood at rigid attention. He thumped his chest with a black gloved hand and gave Tarkon a stiff armed salute in a sign of respect. “We have no desire to interfere in internal state matters,” He declared. Lovok then paused and regarded Darcis with a long look, “However I would be remiss if I did not beseech you to inform the Central Command that the Obsidian Order in general, and Operative Darcis in particular, have been instrumental in advancing our telepresence technology.”
“It is almost at the level to rival Starfleet’s interface technology,” Darcis added.
Lovok nodded, “The operative is correct. This technological field had fallen into disrepute and disuse due to its failure during the war with Earth, and we allowed the Federation to make strides with interfacing. This demonstration proves that we are nearing their technical level.”
“But at the cost of instigating interstellar war?” Tarkon rejoined. “That is a price that the Central Command feels is too high.”
Lovok dipped his head respectfully, “I fully comprehend.” He snapped his fingers and his subordinates gathered up the Reman corpse. Tarkon gave him a once over.
There were deep burn marks spreading out from where tubes had been attached to his scalp. As they drew near with him, Pinute’s nostrils twitched at the stench of cooked flesh. “The subject suffered severe neurological shock, due to the destruction of the drone ship,” Lovok explained, as dispassionately as Tarkon felt.
“That was a rash move on the Central Command’s part,” Darcis said, “We could’ve destroyed the Federation starship and brought the drone back and no one would be the wiser.”
“Are you really that daft?” The legate thundered, no longer concerned about his personal safety. “There was no way that Starfleet wouldn’t investigate the destruction of one of their starships on top of the Zubrin colony attack, and the behavior of the Borg ship was too erratic not to raise credible suspicions as to if the ship was really Borg at all.”
“Without proof the best the humans could offer was mere speculation,” the Obsidian Order man shrugged.
“Wars have been fought for much less,” Tarkon pointed out. He shifted his gaze to Lovok. The Romulan raised an eyebrow in silent acknowledgement.
“What we did was remove some of our traitors while eliminating several Federation delegates as well,” Darcis said proudly.
“At the cost of how many other Cardassian lives on Helophis?” Tarkon shot back.
“That is immaterial,” Darcis answered, “They were necessary casualties. Martyrs if that sounds better to you.”
“The only thing that would sound pleasant to me right now is you gurgling and gasping for breath with my hands around your throat,” Tarkon declared, unable to tolerate the man’s insouciance any longer.
“We had to sell it that these were the Borg, or Rogue Borg what have you, and that meant the appearance of indiscriminate slaughter,” Darcis added, as if that explanation made his actions any more tolerable.
“I was no fan of the peace talks,” Tarkon began.
“Hence your faction of the Central Command signing off on this ‘little experiment’,” Darcis interrupted. “But now you’ve gotten cold scales. No matter, our objectives were achieved.”
“I concur with Operative Darcis,” Lovok interrupted smoothly. “The peace talks were disrupted, some of your fiercest rivals for control of the Central Command were neutralized,” the Tal Shiar agent said, “And both of our nations stand to benefit from the technological advances we have wrought together. Before I take my leave of you, I must say that I look forward to working with the Obsidian Order again whenever the opportunity arises.”
The Romulan nodded at both men and then looked his subordinates. He nodded at them as well. With one gloved hand he pulled a communicator from his belt and gave a command. The Romulans and the Reman corpse vanished in green shafts of light.
“Now what I am going to do with you?” Tarkon asked. He could fell his guards tensing behind him. Worriedly, he couldn’t get a sense of the Obsidian Order men behind them at all. And that insolent smirk was still on Darcis’s face.
“You are going to do nothing,” the agent said, “You’ve flexed your muscles in front of Colonel Lovok. You’ve showed who the real rulers of the Union are. What else is there for you to do? Are you going to expose our project, of which the Central Command is complicit in? I don’t think so.”
Darcis’s summation brought Tarkon up short. He snorted and cursed in anger. What was he going to do? What could he do? Dukat had reported that the ship had been vaporized. There was nothing left that could even provide Starfleet a remote possibility to tie the attack back to Cardassia. And look at what had been gained? Tarkon’s faction was in firmer control of the peace process and they could push for more territory as a price to end for hostilities. Even with the war’s end the Union could expand.
It was the riskiest of gambits, one he had not been in favor of and certainly not willing to leave in the hands of the honor deficient Obsidian Order, but it had worked. However he could never admit that to the now grinning Darcis. It was as if the broad-chested man had read his mind.
“Until next time,” Tarkon said tightly, his words filled with promised retribution, before turning on a dime, with decades-drummed precision.
“Yes, next time,” Darcis called out cheerily behind him. The legate didn’t look back.