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Old December 16 2008, 07:06 PM   #151
CeJay
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Re: Star Trek: Sigils and Unions--The Thirteenth Order

Yeah, one of the most fascinating aspects of this story remains the fact that we see everything from a uniquely Cardassian perspective. Which of course is a lot of fun. Even though I'm still not sure how these guys compare to the seemingly much more mean-spirited Cardassians we used to see in DS9. I guess at the end of the day you got moderates and fundamentals everywhere.

I liked the idea of the failed Cardassian weapons system. Looks like nobody is spared from bad administrative decisions.

Good suff and a lot more to look forward to.
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Old December 16 2008, 07:28 PM   #152
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Re: Star Trek: Sigils and Unions--The Thirteenth Order

The interaction between Macet and Rebek was aces, as well as the backstory there and the explanation of the hunter's eye. Good work!
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Old December 16 2008, 08:40 PM   #153
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Re: Star Trek: Sigils and Unions--The Thirteenth Order

SLWatson wrote: View Post
The interaction between Macet and Rebek was aces, as well as the backstory there and the explanation of the hunter's eye. Good work!
Ummm..again..I agree. I like what you are doing here with these two. As I told you in our PMs, you have this stuff down. Two thumbs up..

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Old December 16 2008, 09:00 PM   #154
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Re: Star Trek: Sigils and Unions--The Thirteenth Order

Great character work here. You continue to peel back the layers of these Cardassians - making them more real. It will be interesting to see how the alliance holds up in the heat of battle.
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Old December 16 2008, 09:37 PM   #155
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Re: Star Trek: Sigils and Unions--The Thirteenth Order

All that was said before me and -brilliant explanation of the "spoon" in the Cardassian head-and the elaboration of the voles. Bravo!
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Old December 17 2008, 01:20 AM   #156
Nerys Ghemor
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Re: Star Trek: Sigils and Unions--The Thirteenth Order

Thank you to everybody who's read and commented!

I did want to take on this one specifically...

CeJay wrote: View Post
Yeah, one of the most fascinating aspects of this story remains the fact that we see everything from a uniquely Cardassian perspective. Which of course is a lot of fun. Even though I'm still not sure how these guys compare to the seemingly much more mean-spirited Cardassians we used to see in DS9. I guess at the end of the day you got moderates and fundamentals everywhere.
Exactly...that's one of the things I want people to carry away from this--that in the end, unless you're dealing with the Borg, there's only so much conformity you're going to get even in the strictest societies. That's true under regimes like Iran, China, and so on (I do not use North Korea as an example since we know Cardassia is more open to outside contact than that--making that example too extreme).

I don't deny the existence of those mean-spirited Cardassians at all, and though you do have a real conglomeration of those who aren't that way...I've tried to make some allusions to the dissonance between them and others.

That's part of why my guls don't always get along well with others. Lemme put it this way...there are MANY reasons, on many levels, why Gul Ocett doesn't play nicely with Rebek or Berat. There's also the late Gul Vuraal--I won't spoil exactly what he did yet, but let's just say Glinn Daro's former CO was NOT a nice guy. (Oh...and if you read Betrayal [DS9 novel #6], you'll get to see what Berat's former CO was like. EEEEK! Let's just say Berat has some very personal reasons not to run HIS ship that way!)

As for Gul Speros...I shall be interested to see what you make of his character as you start getting to know him more.

I liked the idea of the failed Cardassian weapons system. Looks like nobody is spared from bad administrative decisions.
Yep...bureaucracies breed such things. I think it's got to be a universal constant. I have also noticed that repressive bureaucracies take even longer to rectify those mistakes than the democratic ones--so the idea of it taking MONTHS for them to de-fund and discontinue the hunter array program made sense to me.
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Old December 29 2008, 06:27 AM   #157
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Re: Star Trek: Sigils and Unions--The Thirteenth Order

Next section of this chapter...I'm splitting the battle into smaller sections to post because it's got a LOT of moving parts and it's proving difficult to write. I hope you'll bear with me; it's better than nothing, I guess.

-------

2375—The Dominion War—Two minutes to ground battle
Cardassian Rasgălor of Lessek

The air was alive here.

Its resonance spread along her skin, yet she knew its point of origin as her ears might pinpoint the hum of a tuning fork. The impression certainly belonged to a person—that much was obvious, but there was something feverish about it, a strange quickness to its oscillations: a heart that beat faster to drive a metabolism that produced, shed, and replenished more heat than seemed natural.

Its source, Ensign Wilkes, stood at arm’s length from Rebek. It was all the Cardassian woman could do to keep from stealing a glance at Wilkes’ holster to make sure that disruptor pistol was still where it belonged.

The sixth Cardassian sense in its unaided form was a general proximity alarm at best, but with the help of the hunter array, she received the refined, directional input her pre-Hebitian hunter-fisher ancestors must have had. Accordingly, the hunter array’s amplification tickled at some of the most primitive instincts: take heed, predators roam here. And by it Rebek sensed the base’s shield perimeter a quarter of a terhăn kilometer ahead as ripples might spread from a bobbing buoy in a lake.

The base sat recessed in a low valley where the flat ground had allowed it to be built quickly and with minimal resources. Defense against this sort of straight-on ground assault had been the last thing on its creators’ minds, however, or they surely would have opted for the high ground. Lessek lay well within Union territory, for starters—and secondly, in the age of shields, transporters, and precision space strikes, the usual procedure for an attack on such a small facility would have been to attack from air or space: hammer away the facility’s shields, beam troops directly in, and seize the facility from the inside. Ground troops had their role, of course—but in places where transporters could operate, typically as support rather than the main thrust of an assault.

Three terhăn meters ahead, the hunter array traced a green line on the ground before her eyes: the sensor perimeter. She turned to the Starfleet ensign. “This is it. Are you ready?”

Wilkes nodded apprehensively. Though she tried to hide it, the ridgelessness of her eyes literally shed light on how they widened with the anticipation and fear.

“Then go—we haven’t much time.”

The young Starfleet officer glanced sideways at Rebek, a second hesitation born in her eyes. She drew breath to speak, and when the words emerged—in accented but passable Cardăsda, Rebek understood why. “Gorhoç edek, Gul.” It was the formal reply of subordinate to gul: I obey.

Wilkes knelt into a defensive-ready crouch much like a Cardassian fighter beginning the Stratagems—knees bent, one foot slightly forward, hands out, fingers splayed as if to ward off an oncoming attacker.

Then she sprinted forward, kicking up a cloud of grey dust behind her.



2375—The Dominion War—Two minutes to ground battle

Cardassian Union Warship Sherouk

A dull burn crawled up Gul Berat’s spine, into his shoulders, and down through his wrists. This was to be expected; such was the price he paid for intensity of emotion, both past and present. Though his lower mind lobbied for a painkiller and his body protested that he ought to at least step into his office and work through the stretching series his physical therapists had assigned four years ago, he refused. He had promised his crew when he accepted the ship sigil from Gul Zarvat that through him they would receive the full support of the Cardassian Union. True, he had been able-bodied then, but that changed neither his oath nor his will to execute it. And right now, he was needed here on the bridge, in the command seat.

The turbolift clicked into place behind him, and Glinn Yejain stepped onto the bridge. Berat did not rise to accept his first officer’s report. A transfer from another crew might have interpreted this gesture the usual way—the assertion of superiority—but from Berat it was simply the one concession he made to his nerves to preserve stamina for later. Yejain and the others knew this pre-battle stillness quite well, and accepted it because they knew what it would give way to. “All sections report ready,” Yejain announced as soon as he stood at the foot of the command seat platform with a quick, shallow bow.

“Good work, Yejain,” Berat replied with a smile, inclining his head to represent the reciprocating bow. None of the four ships in the Thirteenth Order formation had openly declared battle alert lest the Dominion detect their systems girding for war. Still, on each ship the first officer—or acting first officer, in most cases—had personally toured the decks of their Gă’ălour from nose to backfin to muster the crew to full readiness. “Be ready to bring weapons and shields online the instant we hear from the surface.”

Berat felt a knot in his stomach. That spot in the center of his back sent a particularly insistent jolt throughout his body. His right shoulder twitched despite a now-instinctive meditative exercise intended to seize the errant energy discharge and divert it where its effects would show less. Yejain’s sharp eyes clearly saw, but he gave no sign; he was well used to this by now. “I obey, Gul.”

Berat counted himself grateful: considering the circumstances, this was actually shaping up to be a relatively good day. And an excellent thing indeed, considering I’m the only gul spaceside—not to mention of the glinns, only Va’Kust is younger than I am. The glinns commanding the other ships—Va’Kust, Topak, and Hatel of the Ghiletz, all awaited his signal. And in the case of catastrophe, command of anything that might remain of the Thirteenth Order would fall to him.

He closed his eyes.

Pieces of the Prenkar rained down like meteorites on the surface of Septimus III and volley after volley of quantum torpedoes on the planet’s surface blew a choking cloud of radioactive dust into the atmosphere to join the rising ashes from innumerable brush fires, compounding astronomically every time they struck a weapons cache or a base reactor.

Many good men—so many of them answering the call to service for the second time in their lives, when they should have been looking forward to their summit years or resting from prior injuries—had already perished in the Klingon ground assault. And the rest…the Klingons were determined now to obliterate them all rather than leave the now-defenseless survivors to contemplate the depths of their failure as Cardassians might have done. Any who lived through the final orbital assault—unlikely as that seemed—would succumb to radiation poisoning in short order: there would be no evacuation. The planet itself descended into a frigid hell far worse than nuclear winter, worthless for millennia to come.

The Prenkar—gone. The Eleventh Order—gone. The life of Septimus III itself—gone.

The Romac survived because he, Gul Tayben Berat, had chosen them. The Prenkar had been too far gone, already breaking apart. And the only way to save the Romac had been to abandon the Prenkar and the Eleventh Order to their fates. Cardassia needed the Romac. It needed Gul Rebek.

But Cardassia had needed Gul Igrun and Legate Met’Orn, and their people as well.

Berat released a shuddering breath.

That can’t happen again. It just
can’t, he fervently willed.

The chronometer chimed and the bridge crew fell silent. There was no other signal; there would not be until—unless—the ground team succeeded.

“The battle on the ground should be joined,” Berat announced. “Now we wait.”
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Last edited by Nerys Ghemor; December 30 2008 at 01:46 AM.
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Old December 29 2008, 07:32 PM   #158
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Re: Star Trek: Sigils and Unions--The Thirteenth Order

Oooh, excellent tension building! Yes, I think that I can wait for the next parts, as I'm sure they'll be worth it.
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Old December 29 2008, 09:35 PM   #159
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Re: Star Trek: Sigils and Unions--The Thirteenth Order

Excellent! Can't wait!
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Old December 29 2008, 09:57 PM   #160
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Re: Star Trek: Sigils and Unions--The Thirteenth Order

Have finished getting caught up with this story and I have one problem. Now that I am caught up I now have to impatiently await more.

Terrific tale. The battle plan has been laid out but battle plans count for very little after the opening salvo. The success of the battle will probably exercise the 'unnatural alliance' greatly. But by the smae stroke both sides may get an awful lot from the partnership.

Have to applaud the 'Hunter's Eye' explanation and indeed the way you used it to explain those god awful head dresses worn in The Wounded and lack thereof afterwards.

Just wondering though if anyone will break under the stress - whether Cardassian or a Federation member. I think it is a likelihood though maybe one later down the line. All involved are under extreme stresss and even duress in having to co-operate with their until recent enemies and for some like Faloni almost natural enemies. All of which adds to the tension and drama crafted here.

Excellent.
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Old December 30 2008, 01:47 AM   #161
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Re: Star Trek: Sigils and Unions--The Thirteenth Order

Thanks! I really hope the battle ends up living up to expectations! There are a lot of fine writers here who have set the bar VERY high in that regard and it's going to be a challenge--that's for sure.
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Old January 7 2009, 10:15 PM   #162
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Re: Star Trek: Sigils and Unions--The Thirteenth Order

OK...going to give you guys this part a bit early!

(Just one note...I know Spirodopoulos is crossing himself "backwards." That's not a mistake; that's how some in the Eastern Churches do it.)

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

2375—The Dominion War—Two minutes to ground battle

Cardassian Rasgălor of Lessek

The foothills lay at his back now like spectral grey shadows of the Appalachians; below lay the shipyard, just out of sight, tucked into the depression like the town of Blacksburg in the Shenandoah Valley. They would follow the path of an old riverbed carved out millions if not billions of years ago between the hills—the river itself, however, had not flowed for thousands of years before the first Cardassian set foot on the planet.

The foothills here on the Cardassian outworld—rasgălor, as they called it, felt to Spirodopoulos the way the Blue Ridge always did when he visited America. See, Mike, his grandmother had explained to a boy accustomed to the great, jagged prominences of Thessaloniki, these mountains may not seem like much to look at, but the truth is they’re far more ancient and for that you have to respect them. Just like how a certain homely carpenter from a hole-in-the-wall is in fact the Ancient of Days—once you know how to look.

The Greek soldier slung his Cardassian rifle on his back and knelt.

He crossed himself as he always did before battle. Except this time, as his fingers moved from right shoulder to left, they brushed against the central rib of his cuirass. He’d almost begun to forget its alien strangeness, but now Ensign Folani, who had witnessed his ritual numerous times on AR-558, snorted.

Spirodopoulos couldn’t resist a tiny chortle at the image as he mentally stepped outside himself. I bet You’re getting a kick out of this, he thought to the Almighty with a crooked smile that quickly evaporated. At least, I hope so, because I’d much prefer that to winding up in Hades for it.

He drew in a breath and subdued his face and mind. Lord of the Powers be with us, for in times of distress we have no other help but You. Lord of the Powers, have mercy on us.

Guide my hand that even in the midst of war I may be temperate in my actions, that I may act only where I must act for the sake of friends and allies, new and old, that You might show me the way to bring others out from the yoke of oppression. Help my allies from another of Your myriad worlds to unite with their sundered brothers and find the way to peace. And for what I am about to do…forgive us all, that it has come to this.

Kyrie, eleison—Christe, eleison—Kyrie, eleison. Amen.

Then he looked up.

Spirodopoulos still hadn’t found the chronometer function on his wristcomm, but he acutely sensed the ticking of each second nonetheless. He checked the settings on the Cardassian disruptor rifle once more, flicked the safety off and back on.

Next he throttled the beam intensity settings back and forth. The rifle had only three settings: heavy stun, kill, and vaporize. Roast, rape, and raze, Chief Librescu had called it in a bit of Federation-Cardassian War veterans’ slang Spirodopoulos had icily warned the noncom that he had better not ever hear from any soldier of the Thirteenth Order, especially not where the Cardassians might hear. Still, Alexandru Librescu had added, this tried-and-true weapon had one of the sturdiest designs he had ever encountered—one he respected so greatly that he had kept one after the war and grumbled about his captain’s refusal to let him take it on away missions.

Spirodopoulos set the disruptor rifle back to stun. Despite the difficulties, he and the guls had agreed—Cardassian lives were to be spared if at all possible. Some would rebel when the Thirteenth Order stormed the base, and excessive bloodshed was not likely to encourage them. Those who continued to collude…though it didn’t sit well with Spirodopoulos, his understanding was that the Cardassians intended to take prisoners—and not as they had with the Starfleet contingent.

The Jem’Hadar and Vorta, of course, were a different matter. When it came to them, raze sounded like a very good setting indeed.

He felt a pang of shame. He crossed himself again.

Forgive them, for they know not what they do. They
can’t; their bodies hold their souls in chains I can’t imagine.

Ultimately, it was their worldly creators who would pay for that sin. And when it came to the damned Founders, Spirodopoulos had to concede his mortal nature: his forgiveness only went so far.



Ivy Wilkes made a quick dash-and-retreat, darting across the sensor perimeter and back like she would in a football speed drill. Please let that be enough to bring down the shield! she thought in as much time as it took her to make it there and back.

The diminutive Rebek stared stonily into the distance as Wilkes mentally ticked off the seconds. Iymender had said it could take a full thirty seconds for his first set of viruses to override the required systems, but that made the delay no more tolerable.

Finally, the Cardassian woman beheld something through that ungainly device encircling her head. “It’s starting…the shield generators are starting to shut down. Just a second more…”

This time Wilkes saw it too: with a subtle fizz, the forcefield sputtered out of existence.

Rebek snatched up a rock and rounded up with a form that would have made the baseball players of old jealous. She unleashed a blistering fastball that shot down into the valley—

—beyond the dome where the shield should have been, unobstructed.

Gul Rebek tapped her wristcomm thrice.

Wilkes gulped. Here we go…



Tick-tick-tick.

Lieutenant Commander Spirodopoulos shot to his feet at those three tiny clicks from his wristcomm: Rebek confirmed shield failure.

They had only minutes to reach the foot of the hill before the shields snapped back online. “Get up!” Spirodopoulos shouted to the armored Starfleet soldiers, unstrapping his rifle. “Thirteenth Order—on your feet! Vacation’s officially over, people! Let’s show the Dominion we’ve still got it!”

A few meters away, Gul Speros stood as well, his body rigid, black eyes burning with singular determination. “Mriytic Cardăsa!” he cried, lifting his rifle above his head. Cardassia will rise!

The Cardassians were outnumbered approximately two-to-one by the Starfleet group, even after a new infusion of men from the Ghiletz, but they more than made up with it with the intensity of their battle cry.

Then one voice rose above them all: Gul Akellen Macet—his voice ablaze with a righteous fury Spirodopoulos fancied would have put even the man’s deranged cousin on the run.

THIRTEENTH ORDER—FORWARD!!!

Cardassian Guard and Federation Starfleet charged headlong with the wind at their backs and gravity on their side—one force fixed upon a united goal.2375—The Dominion War—The Battle for the Shipyard
Cardassian Rasgălor of Lessek
Lessek Planetside Base

Shipyard surveillance monitor Sorabec was in a foul mood she dared not let on.

Somebody’s awfully quiet today,” Gruner remarked in a cheery conversational tone that Sorabec knew was anything but. Why today, of all days, does Ragoç Gruner have to be early for his shift? “Give me a smile, Remegh…don’t be shy.”

Her supervisor was one of those who seemed to think women in the military outside the sciences were only there to fulfill some secret dream of bedding their male superiors—and certainly not in the context of wedlock where a proper Cardassian kept the sexual act. No, Gruner was one of those too blasted many who thought that because he could legally bear arms, his personal weapon was free to roam wherever it wanted. In his world, the rules didn’t apply to him. And the sad part was that under many guls—who had their own dalliances to hide, they didn’t. To make matters even worse, Gruner was distantly related to someone on the Detapa Council…that is, one of the members the Dominion had actually kept.

It was enough to make Sorabec envious of her cousin Vatriy, who had died a few months ago on the Aldara. Gul Danar may have been an irascible ghentregămst, but at least he didn’t put up with that kind of garbage on his ship…rumor had it that the first sorry skrăgh to try it with one of his female officers had ended up rather permanently ‘disarmed.’

And being dead, Vatriy certainly wasn’t enduring this now. Gruner had been trying to jump in her armor since day one on this rock and had done everything short of actually grabbing her posterior to let her know it. The way he stroked his neck ridges every time he caught her eye bordered on the pornographic. To add insult to Gruner’s desired injury, he had a massive double chin that practically swallowed his jaw ridges whole; the twin chin ridges might as well not be there. Worse, he had a kănar-gut that bounced low enough to peek out from under his cuirass every time he took a step. The thought of looking up at Gruner from that position was enough to make Sorabec want to vomit.

What, Sorabec sarcastically thought for not the first time as Gruner loomed over her chair, sucking up to the Vorta doesn’t get the blood racing anymore?

What she really said was, “Kiba’avzayn, Ragoç.”

Said good tidings, though, certainly weren’t for Gruner. They really belonged to Riyăk Iymender, wherever he was. According to the chronometer, he and that unprecedented hybrid force were supposed to come crashing down from the foothills in less than a minute to liberate Lessek from its Dominion overlords—and from there, the entire Cardassian Union.

She had to give it to the lanky programmer…he sure had a lot of nerve for a code-cruncher. Not that anybody would’ve guessed it to look at him: until the new Dominion-approved glinn—the same one who had seen fit to gift the base with Gruner’s presence—put a stop to it, Iymender had the tendency to sit down cross-legged wherever the inspiration might strike…often without warning and almost always somewhere guaranteed to snarl up foot traffic…and chew on the end of his stylus until he collected his thoughts sufficiently to actually scribble something on his padd. What a recruitment poster, some of her friends had quipped at the sight. And Glinn Thivok had only tolerated it because Iymender delivered such results.

But then the riyăk had approached Sorabec with the nearly unthinkable: rebellion. And the more she got to know Iymender, the more endearing his oddities became…and she had started to see there was more to him than that, a young man with a great deal of potential who just needed a little work on his social skills. In spite of herself, he’d started to grow on her.

Quite unlike the man who now sought to attach himself to her like a giant, parasitic, spaceborne amoeba. Sorabec kept her eyes glued to the feed, barely even acknowledging Gruner’s presence as he hovered irritatingly over her shoulders like a Klingon glob-fly. She hoped the man ran afoul of a Starfleet disruptor blast.

No, she decided as she leaned back in her chair trying to feign relaxation, it didn’t bother her at all to contemplate Gruner’s innards plastered all over the wall like an insect too sluggish to dodge a swatter. That was what a traitor to the Cardassian Union deserved, after all—and that’s what all Dominion collaborators were. And especially a vile creature like Gruner who actually thought Gul Dukat’s come-hither swagger and wandering eyes were worthy of emulation, as if it made him more of a man.

Then the security feed flashed.

‘Flashed’ was far too overblown a word for it—all it had really been was a subtle increase in the color saturation, almost too faint for the eye to see, a hint that died away almost immediately to be replaced by the same tedious sort of feed that rolled across her screen every hour of every other day.

Maybe if he dismissed her soon enough, the blame for the ensuing mess might fall on him. Maybe the Vorta he so enjoyed kissing up to would be the one to kill him before the Star’hvliyt-çăs got to him—that would be justice indeed. The crimes are treason and flagrant repulsiveness, she thought. The sentence is death: let the trial begin.

Sorabec said nothing, hoping that subtle flicker had evaded the rotund ragoç. That was her first mistake.

“Interesting, that,” Gruner declared in a singsong mockery of amazement. “I do believe a gor is supposed to inform her superior of any signs of equipment malfunction. Now, why would a good little Cardassian fail to do that?”

Sorabec froze. It would even have been better to say the first words that occurred to her—because you’re standing there and saw it too, you idiot—than it was to hold her tongue. That was her second mistake: the fatal one.

“Maybe the good little Cardassian isn’t a good little Cardassian after all.”

Even as she absorbed the knowledge that she was about to die, Sorabec still couldn’t help but be struck by how utterly insipid his ‘rhetoric’ was. Was it possible he thought that pathetic provocation was actually going to arouse her in her last moments? Even a first-day archon-student could write a more creative courtroom condemnation than that. He never had been one for subtlety. Of course, some small part of her rejoiced that the blubberhead was too stupid to think about interrogating her to find out exactly what the threat was.

Gruner raised his disruptor pistol. Sorabec could have sworn that wasn’t the only thing he raised. “What a shame…I had such dreams for you.”

The first casualty of the Lessek uprising died mouthing a curse at her weak-minded, lecherous supervisor and hoping against all hope that stupid as he was, there’d be at least a little time before he managed to involve someone who really could raise chaos against Iymender and the rebels.
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Are you a Cardassian fan, citizen? Prove your loyalty--check out my fanfic universe, Star Trek: Sigils and Unions. Or keep the faith on my AU Cardassia, Sigils and Unions: Catacombs of Oralius!
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Old January 7 2009, 10:25 PM   #163
SLWatson
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Re: Star Trek: Sigils and Unions--The Thirteenth Order

Awesome start of the battle; I imagine it hasn't reached frantic energy just yet. The different characters and their thoughts made them seem very real and understandable. Excellent work!
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Old January 7 2009, 11:13 PM   #164
RobertScorpio
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Re: Star Trek: Sigils and Unions--The Thirteenth Order

You have writing these kinds of scene down to an art form. The way you can develop the different characters as battle comes...I love Sorebec is cool..keep it coming!!!

Rob
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Old January 7 2009, 11:14 PM   #165
RobertScorpio
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Re: Star Trek: Sigils and Unions--The Thirteenth Order

]

You have writing these kinds of scene down to an art form. The way you can develop the different characters as battle comes...Sorebec is cool..keep it coming!!!

Rob
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