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Old August 18 2008, 11:56 PM   #1
Nerys Ghemor
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Location: Cardăsa Terăm--Nerys Ghemor
Star Trek: Sigils and Unions--The Thirteenth Order

Star Trek: Sigils and Unions is the name for my overall fanfic universe. While I've enjoyed many aspects of the Pocket Book relaunches, I've found myself wanting to do my own continuity and take things in an entirely different direction. I particularly wanted to continue in DS9's direction of exploring the Federation from a more skeptical vein, and preferably from an outside perspective.

The Thirteenth Order is something of a "prequel" to the entire idea (most of which is still taking shape in my head). It takes place during Season 7 of Deep Space Nine (2375) and while I originally intended it as a one-off, it has introduced some characters I think I'm eventually going to use later.

NB: Before I even post the relevant sections, please understand I know there is a perfectly legitimate argument to be made that one of my characters has NO business doing what he will later do, for various regulatory and 24th century ethical reasons. While I personally suspect I would've done it were I in his shoes, I'm sure at least some of you wouldn't have. (As to the person who got him INTO it, he doesn't have the same restrictions. Yes, he thinks outside the box his culture would seem to place him in, but that one is easier to explain.)

--------

Continuity roughly includes the following and the decisions are made for no other reason than my own personal preference:

Full canon:
  • TOS (to include all movies)
  • TAS
  • TNG (to include all movies)
  • DS9
Partial canon (meaning I may ignore, reshape, or include items as I wish):

The following DS9 relaunch novels:
  • Terok Nor series
  • A Stitch in Time
  • Avatar 1 and 2
  • Gateways (especially needed due to a reaction from Gul Macet that begs further explanation)
One DS9 pre-relaunch novel gained partial canon status due to a character that really stuck with me for whatever reason. You'll get a chance to spot him later.

Jury's still out on whether the following get full, partial, or no canon status:
  • VOY (due to the inclusion of Janeway in Nemesis, the decision here is between full and partial canon)
  • ENT
The Cardăsda language that appears in this story is mine--no relation whatsoever to "Kardasi" or any other effort. However, for language geeks, please note I have chosen to be inconsistent between transliterations that adhere more to English spelling rules, and those that follow a strict "Ilojan transliteration" (my "official" rendering of Cardassian phonology). Also, a rare few terms and names from the series must be explained as either bad transliteration (someone wrote what they thought they heard and was wrong), a foreign loanword, or coming from a non-official regional dialect. (If at any point anyone wants more information on the inner workings of Cardăsda, please visit the link in my signature. I post under the name of "Rose Immortal" there. For use in your own stories, please ask and please credit.)

Aaaanyway...here goes nothing! Just a little teaser...not a lot really happens here; this is more an introduction to my take on Gul Macet to kind of explain how I see him and how he got to the point where he's ready to do the "un-Cardassian-like" things he does later.

=============================

2375—The Dominion War
Cardassian Union Warship Trager

Gul Akellen Macet rubbed the outsides of his eye ridges in a futile effort to ward off the omnipresent headache that had throbbed behind his temples ever since the Dominion had usurped the leadership of the Cardassian Union. And all thanks to my thrice-burned cousin. Not for the first time he wondered if it were perhaps a cruel joke on the part of the universe that he had to look and sound so much like Dukat, so much so that the very mention of him was constantly tied to that man. In Macet’s opinion, any idiot could see that his ridging pattern took after his father, who hailed from the other side of Cardassia entirely from the Dukats. But not that, not even the facial hair—a liberty from military regulations and custom Macet had taken as soon as he received his own command—ever seemed to stop people from making the infuriating connection and voicing it as if they thought he might not know.

“My dear Cardassian ally,” simpered Arawil, the tall Vorta female leaning rather disconcertingly into his face, “what seems to be the matter? Do you require painkillers?”

I require your ejection out the airlock, Macet longed to snarl, but held his tongue with the help of long practice. “I seem to have stared into this viewing device for a few hours too many…it appears I am only resistant to its effects to a point.”

“I see,” Arawil replied, the verb drawn out to ridiculous length. “Perhaps I could serve you by taking the bridge for the remainder of your shift?”

And give you time to run around my bridge unchecked before Daro relieves me? I think not. “That will not be necessary, Arhaviyl,” he replied, intentionally pronouncing the name with his heaviest Cardăsda accent. Only the ‘w’ should have given him any trouble, but he enjoyed the Vorta’s subtle wince as the aspirated trill wounded her hypersensitive ears. “Mendral!” he called, taking advantage of the chance to turn his back on Arawil as he spun around towards the navigation console. “Take over the viewer until Daro arrives.”

“I obey, Gul.” Macet’s heart warmed though he hid the smile he wished to show. His crew had made a habit of emphasizing exactly whose commands they heeded ever since that Vorta worm had come aboard. Macet had long been cautious how he allowed that intense loyalty to display before others, for to develop his own personal cadre of officers and crewmen could easily mark him as a threat to Central Command, something that he as a protégé of Tekeny Ghemor did not exactly need on his record.

That connection, distant and professional as it had appeared to an outside view, had been enough to ensure that Macet would never receive another promotion, but the gul was far beyond caring about that—he had been even before Legate Ghemor’s exposure as a dissident. He had the Trager. He had the hearts of the men who served him, and unlike certain relatives who constantly deluded themselves into believing they were loved by their fellows, Macet could see it plainly in their eyes and so did everyone else who stepped through the airlock.

Ordinarily Macet strove to divorce himself from the results of his unorthodox command technique lest it swell his pride. Under current conditions, however, Macet had no compunctions about letting the full extent of his devotion to the people of the Trager show when that Vorta and her Jem’Hadar gene-slaves weren’t looking. His men needed the evidence of his esteem…and the risk of antagonizing Central Command was now far preferable to forgetting that one was Cardassian.

It was amazing, he thought now, how disparate the reactions were to his initially unassuming presence by the standards of Cardassian military tradition: people had a tendency to reveal their inner bent around him in spite of themselves. Those with a predilection for what was right eventually learned that for once, their true natures would bring them success, and Macet took great pains to respond to that and select his tenured crew accordingly. Their loyalty was like a bracing draft of kănar; men had always been reluctant to transfer away from his ship thanks to his measured disciplinary hand, which stood in such contrast to so many of his fellows.

As for men of injustice, they often made the mistake of taking one look at him and thinking they could act with impunity, at which point Macet would suddenly turn and brought them to heel. This was nothing Macet took pleasure in; sometimes it truly stung. So it had been when an age ago, Dovetz Telle had seen fit to embarrass himself aboard the Enterprise with that foolhardy, unauthorized espionage stunt of his. Summoning Telle into his office after the crisis and telling him he was evicted from the Trager had been one of the hardest things Macet had ever had to do in his military career. Telle had been a man of great promise, but sooner or later there came a point in one’s efforts to mould a man into something better when it came down to a response from that individual that no gul, agent, or archon could ever hope to evoke from the outside. At that point, there was nothing Macet could do but cut them loose as cleanly as possible to face the consequences…which sadly in Telle’s case, probably had something to do with the Obsidian Order.

The thought of that day reminded him of that Federation captain he had worked alongside when the Maxwell had turned rogue and begun to attack his people’s ships. As much of himself as he had seen in Picard, the terhăn commander had made that one arrogant assumption about him and by implication his people, that still rankled to this day. I do comprehend loyalty, Macet reflected. The difference is that I understand how to separate loyalty to a person from loyalty to the idea of what he once was, and I know when it is time to sever ties of pity when that which once was is lost. Anything else is mere fanaticism. So it had been with the Cardassian Union for a long time: the feeling had been building ever since the end of the Federation-Cardassian Wars, fostered by insights gleaned from the late Ghemor, and finally exploding to the fore when that misbegotten ghentregămst took it upon himself to surrender their world to a hostile power. Blood-kin or no, the son-of-a-houndess had gone far beyond what any man could possibly tolerate, and dragged the glory of their entire people down with it.

I prepare to burn this bridge, ran the old aphorism. You have only one chance to choose upon which side you will stand.

Arawil frowned now, an exaggerated pout. “I regret that you regard my offer of assistance in such a negative light, Akellen.” Macet caught his right hand trying to ball up into a fist almost of its own accord…how dare she call him by his given name without his consent, and before his entire bridge crew at that! Not that Daro, Mendral, or any of them would be swayed to her favor by such disrespect—it was more the fact that she thought so little of them as to expect it would, that stoked his ire. “I shall certainly endeavor to alter your perception of the Dominion. In the meantime…am I correct in assuming that I have your cooperation on our objectives?”

“Yes, Arhaviyl,” Macet answered, silently concluding the sentence, you are correct that you are assuming. You don’t know me at all. And you have no idea just how well I have been taught to operate under the nose of belly-crawling political worms like yourself. He had had to, to avoid being detected in his efforts to restore the civilian Detapa Council to rule, especially after the exposure of Legate Ghemor. And this time the stakes were even higher. Someday, he knew, there was going to be yet another widespread rebellion—and this time the Cardassian Union would be fighting not just for its political traditions but for its very life.
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Old August 19 2008, 05:36 PM   #2
Nerys Ghemor
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Re: Star Trek: Sigils and Unions--The Thirteenth Order

All right...here's the other side of the story.

I definitely need some help writing battle scenes--for starters, I don't know a lot about tactics, and secondly, I don't know that I'm doing a very good job of it in general. I've been watching Band of Brothers hoping to get kind of an idea of what it's like, but overall I just don't feel like I'm doing that well. Any advice on improving would be great.

================


2375—The Dominion War—The Second Siege of AR-558
Federation Position on AR-558

What the hell…? Lieutenant Commander Mike Spirodopoulos had heard more than enough disruptor fire for ten lifetimes, and something sounded wrong about the Jem’Hadar weapons firing off up ahead. Part of him tried to hope that perhaps they were running on defective power cells—but no…that couldn’t be; nothing good ever happened on this damn rock. Except, of course, for the time Captain Sisko eliminated those awful ‘Houdini mines’ he’d heard so much about from the veterans. But otherwise…he knew there was no such thing as good fortune on AR-558. The Dominion was making a strong push to retake the planetoid, which Spirodopoulos suspected heralded a much larger offensive into the Chin’toka system…but had anybody listened to his warnings? Of course not.

Susilaputra and the half-Rigelian Tan-Ryshtak fell back into their cavern in a wild flail of arms and legs with a volley of white-hot disruptor pulses nipping at their heels. Mixed in was an amber energy discharge that lanced out laserlike, far more like a Federation weapon than anything the Jem’Hadar ever used. The detached portion of Spirodopoulos’ mind remarked, Aha…there’s the difference: Cardassians.

Until now he hadn’t seen a single one of the grey-skinned reptilio-humanoids on this godforsaken rock. In that brief look before the battle crashed down upon him, the difference in bearing between the Cardassians and the Jem’Hadar accompanying them was immediate and obvious. These men were tense. They didn’t relish the idea of hurling themselves to their deaths any more than he did, no matter how much they loved their homeworld. And in that…they were vulnerable, for one could enter their minds in ways that were completely impossible with the battle-programmed Jem’Hadar.

By signs Spirodopoulos indicated to the Bajoran and Andorian flanking him that they would target the Cardassian newcomers to break the enemy formation. Folani and zh’Thessel, two of his crewmates from the USS Petraeus, nodded and the trio leapt out from behind their cover in unison, each launching themselves with a shriek at the nearest Cardassian.

Spirodopoulos’ target shouted a distressed something so garbled in the heat of battle that the universal translator took one listen and gave up. This only spurred on the Starfleet combat veteran: this was a real fight, man to man, and in all likelihood—if he lived—likely to be the only source of satisfaction he would have for the entire time he was condemned to this wretched place.

“How do you like it, you little kosst?” Folani shrilled as she grappled with her own target, gaining a decisive advantage. The young Cardassian’s eyes widened with panic as Folani drove her elbow deep into the space under his ribs—from the look of it, hitting a vital organ. “How’s this feel? Huh? Answer me! Or are you too cowardly to do it when you’re not smashing your boot into a little child’s back?” Her prey gasped for air as she pressed the assault. His bulging grey eyes spoke nothing of the antipathy he might have reserved for Bajorans—only the primal terror of looking death in the eye.

Suddenly, freeing her arm for a moment as the Cardassian’s frantic struggles grew less and less disciplined, Folani reached into her belt and drew what looked like an obsidian spearhead, perhaps carved right there in their bunker on AR-558 for all Spirodopoulos knew. She drove the blade straight into the Cardassian’s throat and he fell with a rattling, croaking gurgle, drowning in the blood that pooled in his bronchial tubes far too fast to expel.

The sickened howl of Spirodopoulos’ assailant rattled the very walls of the cave, threatened to shatter his eardrums. These guys actually have comrades, Spirodopoulos thought as the enraged Cardassian redoubled his efforts to pin him to the ground—until someone…zh’Thessel? shot him dead. As the enemy soldier fell forward, his armored corpse shoved Spirodopoulos off his feet, finally accomplishing what in life the man could not.

Everything from that point forward was chaos—formless, smoking, stinging, pounding chaos where the enemy troops never stopped streaming in, wave after wave after overwhelming wave until finally, had they been fighting a civilized enemy, Spirodopoulos would have surrendered to save what few soldiers remained of their battalion. But he knew the Jem’Hadar wouldn’t rest until every single one of them was dead, knew the Cardassians would make them wish they were dead. So he persevered, until finally a squad of Cardassians pressed in on them. Something read strangely to him about the way they moved, the encircling formation half the brigade set up as they closed in on the last few Starfleet officers left.

They should be guarding themselves against us—why are they letting us see so many of their backs? That was Spirodopoulos’ last thought before a grey fist crashed into his skull.
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Old August 20 2008, 11:14 AM   #3
DavidFalkayn
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Re: Star Trek: Sigils and Unions--The Thirteenth Order

An interesting look at the Cardassians and their psyche. I hope we see more.
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Old August 20 2008, 05:38 PM   #4
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Re: Star Trek: Sigils and Unions--The Thirteenth Order

I like your choice of characters and view point. It'd be nice to see a 'good' Cardassian for once.
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Old August 20 2008, 06:04 PM   #5
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Re: Star Trek: Sigils and Unions--The Thirteenth Order

Really terrific work here. The reader gets a very good feel for Gul Macet in just a brief passage. One hopes he is the kind of Cardassian that will emerge to lead his people at the conclusion of the war.

I found your combat scenes to be vivid, gritty, and realistic, so watching Band of Brothers must have paid off.

More, please.
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Old August 20 2008, 09:06 PM   #6
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Re: Star Trek: Sigils and Unions--The Thirteenth Order

I am interested in Gul Macet and also found your battle sequence exciting. You can't go wrong watching Band of Brothers...
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Old August 21 2008, 01:26 AM   #7
Nerys Ghemor
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Re: Star Trek: Sigils and Unions--The Thirteenth Order

Thanks!

I think in the DS9 relaunch, Macet does have influence--though I've never been able to figure out exactly what. The fact that he seems to take point when it comes to dealing with the Federation to me suggested that he's one of their premiere guls at that point, much as Picard became in TNG. It's like he's the "public face" they want on their military. Not sure what direction I'll take him in my version, but I do include the Gateways incident in my continuity, at least.

I've often felt like the Cardassian culture was never quite delved into as much as I would like, perhaps because of the whole Orwellian angle they took. Not to say it wasn't done well on the show, but I thought that there had been evidence for a diversity of views under the surface all the way back to "The Wounded."

Look at the way Macet, Daro, and Telle act in that episode and you see three very distinct personalities and approaches to the situation. Telle's behavior is what I think was later expanded into the "typical" Cardassian--but said behavior clearly angered Macet and I personally decided his threat to punish Telle was more than just show, that he really did follow through on it when he got back to the Trager. That anger definitely suggests more diversity in views than you see later. As for Daro...he was the kind of character you almost never saw later in the series. Personally, I suspected a lot more beneath his surface, but not bad things like you might suspect in watching Garak, Dukat, or your typical post-Wounded Cardassian. I think what captured me about the Cardassians as depicted in "The Wounded" was that they DID have those distinct personalities (not the "all honor all the time" stuff like the Klingons or a lot of the other one-trick-pony races you see on Trek).

Yet you barely see evidence of this in DS9 until later!

Gibraltar and Mistral--I definitely appreciate your assessment of the battle scene. Certainly if you do see any ways to improve, or if anybody else does, I would appreciate it...I always feel at my weakest writing that kind of material.
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Old August 22 2008, 12:38 AM   #8
Nerys Ghemor
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Re: Star Trek: Sigils and Unions--The Thirteenth Order

Did Rebek make it?...No word yet…Any of the others?...Nothing.

Arid heat permeated his awareness. Hell?

Chaos…we have to raise them soon and coordinate the transfer—they can’t stay long.”

It can’t be hell.
The hard floor upon which he was slumped hummed ever so slightly, the nearly undetectable, ever-present vibration Spirodopoulos had come to associate with a starship—though if it was the Petraeus, the feel of it suggested mechanical trouble. Unless, of course, there’s been a dispatch error in the hereafter and I’ve been sent to the Black Fleet instead.

“What happened to the sensor mask? Ă’—burn that! There’s no time for explanations. I officially don’t care what you have to do—get it back to optimum, now! You know what it means if we don’t!”

“I obey, Gul.”

“And if you can’t stop staring at the Bajoran, then get out! I need you to put aside your personal problems and focus if we’re going to have any chance.”

His temple stung on top of a deep, throbbing headache with a sensation an awful lot like carpet burn where that Cardassian’s microscaled knuckles had scraped away the top layer of skin. Every muscle stiffly screamed in protest as he shifted into a seated position. Folani is here? Alive? On a Cardassian ship…? ‘Screwed’ doesn’t even begin to cover this

“It won’t happen anymore, Gul.”

Spirodopoulos opened his eyes, hoping to catch a glimpse of his sister-in-arms.

A scaled hand clapped down immediately on his mouth. “Quiet!” hissed the Cardassian to whom it belonged, a bearded man with an uncanny resemblance to Dukat. “The sensors will pick up any speech in an alien language and report it to the Vorta. If you need something, you’ll have to gesture for it unless you know our words.” Spirodopoulos fought to stand, but found his right wrist bound by a cord tied around a metal loop protruding from the floor, perhaps to strap down cargo in its proper use. “Stop that—you’ll pull your shoulder right back out of its socket, the way we found it. There’s no need to struggle…you’re safe for now. You’re aboard the Trager, and we’re taking you somewhere to wait out the war. I apologize for the restraints, but they are necessary for the moment: we dare not divert power to erect a forcefield.”

‘Safe’…
bullshit! Spirodopoulos traced several V-shapes across his nose. What about Folani?

“Though you cannot see her, she is here with you.” The Cardassian responded to an involuntary twitch of Spirodopoulos’ facial muscles of which he was hardly aware. “She is in stable condition and I will not permit any of my men to change that except for the better. Her life is in no danger,” he quickly added. “The crisis passed hours ago; of that our doctor is quite certain.”

Spirodopoulos frantically dug through his satchel, which with the exception of his phaser and tricorder, had been left intact. His hands latched onto a tattered piece of paper, which he extracted and turned towards the Cardassian. The shadows around the other man’s eyes deepened and he pressed his lips together before he replied. “Unfortunately, we cannot notify your family. Any attempt to do so on our part risks putting us all in jeopardy. The only thing you can do for now is be strong for them and allow them to do the same for you, wherever they are.”

Poor Stasya...what if Starfleet tells her I’m dead?


The Cardassian officer reached for Spirodopoulos’ shoulder—the one that did not throb with the pain of unremembered injury. The Greek officer retaliated by wrenching violently away. Macet waited patiently and then reached for him again, this time clasping his upper arm. The grip was strong, but not threatening. Spirodopoulos supposed he meant it to be reassuring. Coming from him? Not likely. “I’m sorry. I truly am—I have my own and someday they may hear the same of me. Soon, the way things are going. There is a reason for all of this…you wouldn’t have had a chance if we had not intervened. You must simply be patient and trust me.”

So there had been something to the Cardassians’ strange maneuver in his last seconds on AR-558. They were definitely up to something, but what? Like everyone on Starfleet’s front lines, Spirodopoulos had heard the terrifying tales from Federation-Cardassian War veterans of just what went on in Cardassian interrogation chambers. Spirodopoulos pointed at that armor-plated chest, raising a cynical, questioning eyebrow. Just who are you to make such a promise?

“I am Macet, gul of the Trager—and I take complete responsibility for all of this. That is the word you may carry to your superiors, if someday you must.”
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Old August 22 2008, 12:46 AM   #9
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Re: Star Trek: Sigils and Unions--The Thirteenth Order

Nice! I'm glad to see our young lieutenant commander isn't willing to be won over by Macet too quickly. The good news: he and some of his comrades are alive. The bad news: they're trapped aboard a Cardassian warship, and it appears the vessel's Dominion contingent knows nothing about their presence. Set phasers to 'tenuous.'
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Old August 22 2008, 02:44 AM   #10
Dnoth
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Re: Star Trek: Sigils and Unions--The Thirteenth Order

Certainly a balancing act for Macet.
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Old August 22 2008, 04:03 AM   #11
Nerys Ghemor
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Re: Star Trek: Sigils and Unions--The Thirteenth Order

Gibraltar wrote: View Post
Nice! I'm glad to see our young lieutenant commander isn't willing to be won over by Macet too quickly. The good news: he and some of his comrades are alive. The bad news: they're trapped aboard a Cardassian warship, and it appears the vessel's Dominion contingent knows nothing about their presence. Set phasers to 'tenuous.'
Indeed--I think I'd be awfully confused and angry if I were in his place!!

I'd say Spirodopoulos is perhaps 40 years old...young when the human lifespan's been lengthened to 120 years, but not completely green either. Being on his own like this, though, is new to him. He had a captain on the Petraeus, and on AR-558 I think there may have at least been a commander there.
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Old August 22 2008, 04:10 AM   #12
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Re: Star Trek: Sigils and Unions--The Thirteenth Order

Ah, for some reason I'd come away with the impression that he was younger, perhaps in his late 20's or early 30's. My bad.
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Old August 22 2008, 05:34 AM   #13
Nerys Ghemor
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Re: Star Trek: Sigils and Unions--The Thirteenth Order

Gibraltar wrote: View Post
Ah, for some reason I'd come away with the impression that he was younger, perhaps in his late 20's or early 30's. My bad.
No problem. I'd thought Lieutenant Commander, being equivalent to what I'm more familiar with, the Army/Air Force Lieutenant Colonel rank, was not necessarily a young person's rank unless there were a) battlefield promotions or b) significant peacetime below-the-zone promotions going on.

At risk of sounding stupid, was it merely his rank that suggested that, or was it something else I said? I'd be curious to know in case there's something in need of revision.
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Old August 22 2008, 05:38 AM   #14
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Re: Star Trek: Sigils and Unions--The Thirteenth Order

Nerys Ghemor wrote: View Post
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Ah, for some reason I'd come away with the impression that he was younger, perhaps in his late 20's or early 30's. My bad.
No problem. I'd thought Lieutenant Commander, being equivalent to what I'm more familiar with, the Army/Air Force Lieutenant Colonel rank, was not necessarily a young person's rank unless there were a) battlefield promotions or b) significant peacetime below-the-zone promotions going on.

At risk of sounding stupid, was it merely his rank that suggested that, or was it something else I said? I'd be curious to know in case there's something in need of revision.
Actually, the naval rank of Lt. Commander is equivalent to the Army/Air Force rank of Major. Lt. Colonel = Commander / Colonel = Captain.

As for what might have triggered that idea... nothing that I can recall specifically, it was just the impression I came away with.
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Old August 22 2008, 05:44 AM   #15
Nerys Ghemor
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Re: Star Trek: Sigils and Unions--The Thirteenth Order

LOL, as you can probably tell, I'm an Air Force brat--NOT a Navy brat.

I'd say 40 is about the top range of what Spirodopoulos' age could be. At youngest I'd put him at 35.
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