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Old October 16 2010, 05:56 PM   #31
Nerys Ghemor
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Re: ST: Shaping a Cardassian - The Shadow of the Order

I bet Av'Roo gets that question all the time, given that the Aurelians and Skorrs look almost identical. Seems like he's very used to handling that tactfully, and possibly doesn't even mind.

I agree that the Federation captain seems very suspicious and distrustful, and it's hard to tell if it's based on anything, or just bigotry.

I am definitely going to be interested to see the reaction to Kapoor...especially Jeto. I hope nobody ends up coming to blows, since I'm sure Kapoor is capable as any "Cardassian" officer, but I don't see her as a natural fighter.
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Old October 16 2010, 06:40 PM   #32
Gul Re'jal
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Re: ST: Shaping a Cardassian - The Shadow of the Order

I still didn't reveal what kind of a problem Jero has with the Cardassians. I think I'll have to do that in the next chapter, because Kapoor's presence among the Cardassians would have very strong impact on Jeto's demons, as it's indirectly connected with those demons.

Is it clear what race Jeto is?
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Old October 16 2010, 07:07 PM   #33
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Re: ST: Shaping a Cardassian - The Shadow of the Order

It seems like Jeto has Bajoran ancestry, but I also think she may have ancestry of another species. Would it be spoiling it if I told you what I think she is?
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Old October 16 2010, 07:17 PM   #34
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Re: ST: Shaping a Cardassian - The Shadow of the Order

PM me, so no spoiling

And yes, she is part Bajoran.
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Old October 18 2010, 03:33 PM   #35
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Re: ST: Shaping a Cardassian - The Shadow of the Order

Love it when the Cardassian interact with non- cardassians and that certainly is an interessting Federation-crew.
Karama is like always very endearing, though I guess he would not like to hear to be "endearing".
Looking forward seeing the reaction to Kapoor of the Fedpeople. They surly don´t know there is a human on board.

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Old October 18 2010, 03:36 PM   #36
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Re: ST: Shaping a Cardassian - The Shadow of the Order

TerokNor wrote: View Post
Karama is like always very endearing, though I guess he would not like to hear to be "endearing".
With him, I'm not so sure. Maybe, if you caught him in the right mood, he would like that description
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Old October 20 2010, 04:36 AM   #37
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Re: ST: Shaping a Cardassian - The Shadow of the Order

Chapter 4


Cardassian Union Warship Damar
Argaya Sector near the Cardassian Union border
24th day of the month of Lukyut, 532, Cardassian Union Calendar




“You wanted to see me, sir,” Gil Kapoor stood in front of Zamarran's console, shoulders squared, back straight, a perfect Cardassian pose.

The Glinn raised his head to look at her and then addressed Brenok. “Sir, can we use your office?” The Gul nodded his consent, so Zamarran headed for the Gul's room, followed by the Gil. He headed for the desk and went around it, but didn't sit in the chair; he would feel it would be inappropriate for it was not his chair. He stood by the window behind the desk and looked out before turning to face Kapoor.

“We have been invited to the Federation warsh... spaceship for a dinner tonight,” he said. He suspected she already knew that from Karama, but decided not to assume anything. “Gul Brenok made a decision to include you in the team of guests.”

“Oh,” she muttered.

He gave her a moment to digest the information and then continued. “You had no contact with your own people for a very long time. I do not understand the choice you had made, but I imagine it was not always easy for you to be isolated from your home.” He took a breath to go on, but noticed she opened her mouth like she wanted to say something, although she didn't. “Speak.”

“My home is here, Glinn,” she said.

His face expression didn't change, but warmness filled his eyes. He would never admit that to her, but he was very fond of this young – he still thought of her as 'young' although for the standard of her people she was getting closer to his age – woman, who had chosen to live among the Cardassians.

Almost twenty years earlier Lieutenant Amrita Kapoor had volunteered for an officer exchange program between the Federation and the Cardassian Union. She had arrived to the ship along with another Federation officer and since day one treated it as the greatest adventure of her life. The other officer requested to be returned home a few months later, but when Kapoor had to decide if she wanted to accompany her colleague – she refused.

Little knew Zamarran at that time about her true motives. She wasn't only a true explorer for whom he took her. Yes, she did explore Cardassian technology, culture and knowledge, but not only that. Her heart decided to explore Cardassian feelings, namely, love. Zamarran was long past the initial shock he'd felt upon learning that his best friend, Karama, fell in love with this tiny, babbling and – he had to admit that – adorable human woman. She stayed in the Cardassian Union for Karama. And she never seemed to regret that decision. Now, the crew treated her as one of their own: she wore her own armour, she earned her Cardassian military rank through her hard work, she spoke their language and she contributed to the Union more than many other Cardassians did.

Zamarran was proud of her; he was proud of her accomplishments and that she had never failed him, even if he expected from her more than from anyone else. It was him, who had suggested to Ya'val to take her as his aide, and the chief engineer was very happy with that choice since.

“Yes, but you also have another family, your parents.”

She nodded once, but didn't offer any additional comment, so he continued. “I am not sure if you would like to face the Federation crew now, or what their reaction would be, so I give you a choice. You may choose to refuse to accompany us to the dinner.”

She seemed surprised. A choice was something rarely offered to a Cardassian officer; rather a sacrifice was expected. She considered the offer for a moment and then spoke in a firm voice. “I will accompany you to the dinner.”

He didn't have to ask her if she was sure. She had made her decision, she voiced it and it was enough for him.

“Be ready by twenty-hundred hours.”

“Yes, Glinn,” she acknowledged and left the office.

Once the door behind her closed a wide smile appeared on Zamarran's face.



USS Karamazov
Argaya Sector near the Cardassian Union border
Stardate: 73687.8
8th of September, 2396, Old Earth Calendar



It was the second time that day that Zamarran had a chance to be materialised in the transporter room aboard the Karamazov. This time, however, his team was bigger and he was in command.

“Glinn Zamarran,” Commander Ronus greeted him.

“I am afraid that ship's business keeps Gul Brenok busy and he won't be able to join us,” Zamarran lied; he hated lying, but he would hate telling strangers about Brenok's physical condition even more.

“That's regrettable, I was looking forward to knowing him better,” Ronus's words seemed sincere.

“Maybe next time.”

“Maybe next time. Please follow me.”

He led them through a corridor and a short lift trip to a room, probably their mess hall, in which other Federation officers had gathered.

“Ah, Mr. Zamarran,” th'Arshar smiled to the Glinn, who flinch a little at the omission of his military rank. “Gul Brenok couldn't make it?” the Captain looked at the group of Cardassians.

“I'm afraid so.”

“Too bad. But I hope we still can enjoy the evening. Let me--” he started, but then his eyes met Kapoor's and he suddenly silenced.

Zamarran patiently waited for the Andorian to regain his voice, but instead of th'Arshar returning to normal, everyone in the room quieted and stared at the human woman. The Glinn shot a glance at her; she didn't move, she didn't flinch, she didn't react in any way to the uneasiness which was clearly hanging in the air. She wore her typical pleasant face expression, but Zamarran was sure it was a mask this time. She was no stupid, she knew she was the reason of the sudden heaviness of the atmosphere in the room. Zamarran's eyes shifted to Karama, who stood just behind his wife. The communications officer's eyes were slightly squinted, observant and vigilant. He did not make any moves, but Zamarran hoped no one would make or say anything uncalled for, as Karama's reaction might be adequate to every Cardassian's instinct of protecting their loved ones.

“Hello, my name is Gil Kapoor,” the human woman in the Cardassian armour said in Federation Standard. Her voice was shaking a little. “And I am very hungry,” she added in a typical manner for her.

Zamarran's eye ridge cocked a bit over an eye which went to check th'Arshar's reaction. The Andorian cleared his throat and looked a bit ashamed by his behaviour.

“Welcome to our ship, Ms. Kapoor,” he said. “Please, everyone, be seated.”

As before, the Federation has assigned a seat to each and every person beforehand. Zamarran was seated between th'Arshar and Ronus, with Karama and Av'Roo to Ronus's left and then Kapoor, Fong, Ya'val, Jeto, Ma'Kan and finally Ha'varra, who was to the Captain's right, as the table was round.

Karama asked Av'Roo if they could switch places, as he wanted to sit next to his wife. If the bird showed any surprise at the revelation, Zamarran couldn't tell.

“We have prepared specialities from a few different cuisines,” Ronus said, pointing to the middle of the table, where many medium size dishes stood. “Lieutenant Fong suggested to eat the Chinese way. This means that we share all dishes. Everyone can try a bit of everything.”

Zamarran looked at an empty plate in front of him, then back at the many different types of food in the middle. He noticed zabu stew and several other Cardassian dishes. He also recognised two Klingon courses.

“This is very interesting idea,” he commented. “Is it typical for your culture?” he asked Fong.

“Yes, sir,” the human nodded. “This is how Chinese eat. Whole family – and often also friends – gather together and share their food.”

“Are your families big?” Ya'val asked.

“Sometimes they are, sometimes not. But the fact is that this kind of dining works the best if there are many people at the table. That lets you prepare – or order, if you are in a restaurant – many different dishes. The perfect number is between ten and fifteen, if you ask my personal opinion.”

How Cardassian, Zamarran thought. He would never expect there was anything in common between Cardassian and human traditions.

“Please,” th'Arshar gestured to the middle of the table, inviting the Cardassians to help themselves. Zamarran wasn't sure what he should choose. He didn't want to be rude and take Cardassian food, but he didn't care much for Klingon dishes and wasn't sure he wanted to risk human tastes.

“Whoa!” Kapoor's voice filled the room. Everyone looked at her. “Sorry, sorry,” she muttered. “I just... sir,” she looked at Zamarran. “They have samosa. You have to try it. It's from the region where I come from.” She rose and reached for some kind of cutlery to pick a triangle object from one of plates. Zamarran eyed her and then took his plate and raised it to her. She put the triangle thing on it and her cutlery barely let go of the samosa-thing when another plate materialised in almost the same point as Zamarran's used to be merely a few seconds ago. Karama. Did she cook it for him and he liked it so much or did he want to try her local food so eagerly? She smiled to him warmly and put two on his plate. She looked around the Cardassians' faces, but no one else seemed to want it, so she took two for herself and sat.

“Which part of India are you from?” Fong asked Kapoor.

“Calcutta,” she answered.

Zamarran bit off a tiny piece of the triangle samosa and chewed. It tasted well, so he bit more to discover that the triangle was not made of only pastry, but inside were vegetables and minced meat. It tasted really well. Maybe he should show more interest in foreign cuisines, he wondered.

“Tell me, Mr. Zamarran--”

“It's Glinn Zamarran,” the Cardassian said coldly.

“Yes, of course,” th'Arshar smiled apologetically, “tell me, how are things on Cardassia now. I hope you managed to rebuild after the war.”

“The rebuilding efforts are still in progress. It was much easier to destroy cities than build them back.”

“It's regrettable that so many precious architectural treasures were destroyed,” Ronus said.

Zamarran glanced at him. “Have you been to Cardassia?” he asked.

The Trill nodded. “One of my previous hosts has. She had been invited by your Ministry of Science and she enjoyed her time there, especially the ruins of Hebitians.”

“Yes, they were impressive,” Zamarran smiled. “Very little is left now,” he added grimly. “The Jem'Hadar know no value of history for they have none themselves. We try to regain what we can of our heritage, but it is difficult and very costly.”

“What do you mean?” Ha'varra asked.

“Several decades ago the Central Command started selling our artefacts and all sorts of Hebitian relics to finance wars. It was a regrettable decision. We are trying to find as many of those treasures as we can and buy them back. It's not easy as even if we locate something, owners ask for unbelievable prices and we simply can't afford to buy it back. Feeding our people is our priority.”

“I had no idea,” Ronus seemed genuinely interested. “Have you managed to recover many artefacts so far?”

“Not as many as we located and as we would like to, but yes, we have some successes. Still, I'd like to see our museums full of our history, for we have rich and interesting history.”

“What does your political structure look like now?” Ha'varra asked. “The last time we heard of you there was a coup twenty years ago and then isolating yourselves from the rest of the Alpha Quadrant.”

Zamarran smiled. “The Central Command is leading the empire.”

“Do you have the Obsidian Order back?” th'Arshar asked.

“Oh, no! We don't,” Zamarran laughed and Ma'Kan, who listened to their conversation, joined him. “Some things should remain in history.”

“How about the colonies?” Ha'varra asked. “I mean the former Federation colonies. What happened to those people there?”

“Each colony, regardless if it is inhabited by Cardassians or non-Cardassians, was granted an autonomy. They must have a Prefect, who reports directly to the Central Command, but how they rule their own planet, how they choose that Prefect – it's all up to them. The Central Command doesn't interfere.”

“Does it work?” Ronus asked.

“It does.” For the most part, Zamarran added in the privacy of his own thoughts.

“Why are you living with Cardassians?” Av'Roo asked Kapoor. Zamarran heard no attack in the Skorr’s voice, only curiosity.

“Because I found my new home on Cardassia,” the Gil smiled to the Skorr, raising her head to look in the tall bird's face.

“How can you live among them?” Jeto asked quietly.

“I am not sure what you mean,” Kapoor said politely, but Zamarran was sure she understood Jeto's words perfectly, just as he did.

“What did they do to you?” Jeto didn't back out.

Before Kapoor could answer to that Ha'varra raised his glass. “How about a toast? To our future, hopefully fruitful, co-operation.”

Everyone, except Jeto, raised their glasses. Zamarran wondered what was inside – it was blue. He sipped. Another alien taste he liked.

“What is it?” he asked th'Arshar.

“Bajoran spring wine.”

“Really?” Ya'val looked at his glass and drank a bit. “At first I thought it was Romulan Ale, but its aroma is too delicate.”

“Don't pretend you never drank it,” Jeto muttered.

“No, I didn't,” Ya'val answered calmly, but his eyes hardened. He knew what she was implying. Everyone at the table knew. Zamarran glanced at the Captain, wondering if the Andorian would do something about her before the situation would get out of control.

“Glinn,” Ha'varra looked at Zamarran. “I have a... professional question. I am a Counselor, so naturally I am very interested in different psychological matters. I wonder, how did the Cardassians fare after the Dominion attacks at the end of the war. I am not sure what kind of psychological services are available on Cardassia, but I am sure many people needed a lot of help and support.”

“It was chaos. Apart from psychological effects people were suffering from plagues, starvation and--”

“You deserved it!” Jeto shouted, looking furiously at Zamarran. No one expected that explosion of voice and anger, even in the light of her earlier remarks. All talks and whispers at the table seized and everyone looked at the ranking Cardassian to see how he would react to her words.
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Old October 20 2010, 04:36 AM   #38
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Re: ST: Shaping a Cardassian - The Shadow of the Order

Zamarran understood Brenok's need to stay aboard the warm warship and accepted his task to represent the Cardassians during this dinner, but he wished Brenok were here and carried this difficult task himself for Brenok was much better in contacts with other people, including non-Cardassians, than Zamarran. However at this very moment he was happy that Brenok wasn't there. He knew that his Gul had lost his daughter, his wife, his mother, his father, his siblings, cousins, uncles, aunts – the list could go on – in the Lakarian City Massacre; for a Cardassian to have no family was an unbelievable pain. If Brenok heard Jeto's unimaginably cruel words... Zamarran had no idea how the Gul would react, but he was sure the reaction would be vehement. Gul Brenok was rather a composed person, but there were matters which easily made his blood boil. This was one of them.

Zamarran squinted at Jeto and then said in an even, calm, but cold voice. “Please, present me with at least one argument why a child that hadn't been even born at the time of the occupation was guilty to deserve to be murdered by the Jem'Hadar.” The Bajoran ribs on her nose and her earring left no doubt what she was accusing the Cardassians of.

All eyes turned to Jeto. She was breathing fast. “No, no! You, you,” she pointed her crooked finger at him, “tell me why my mother deserved what that soldier did to her!”

“She didn't,” the Glinn said in a soft but firm voice. “She didn't and no one else did.”

Jeto clearly didn't expect such an answer. She stared at Zamarran, her eyes shiny with anger and indignation, but her breath slowing down. He scrutinised her features, wondering how much suffering she had to experience looking at her own face in a mirror. She clearly hated them and didn't even try to hide it. He has never been to Bajor, no one from the Damar current crew has – most of the crew was too young – but for her it didn't matter, did it? In her eyes they all were guilty.

“Your ship,” she obviously wasn't finished, “carries a name of a murderer! He killed someone like me!”

Ma'Kan dropped her fork and stared hard at Jeto.

“What did you say?” Ya'val whispered, but in the sudden silence his voice appeared loud and clear.

“How dare you!” Karama growled menacingly.

“Please, please,” Ronus rose from his seat, spreading his hands. “Please, let's drop this subject.”

“She owes us apologies first,” Ya'val hissed.

Ronus looked at Zamarran, but the Glinn had no intentions of letting it go just like that. He ignored the Commander and addressed Jeto: “Legate Damar was our hero. If not him, there would be no Cardassia. And I'll tell you something. There would be no your precious Federation. The Dominion would destroy us, and then you. You owe him as much as we do.”

“That's an interesting interpretation of history,” Ha'varra said. “Quite colourful, I might add. What do you think about it?” he asked Kapoor.

She was caught off guard. “Me?” she glanced at Zamarran, then at Karama and then back at Ha'varra. “I know how the Cardassians feel about Legate Damar. I know how important he is for them. He is Cardassia's national hero and because of that he is idealised. But so are Federation heroes. Sins forgotten, victories emphasised. It's not my place to judge him. It's not my place to express my opinion.”

“How diplomatic of you,” Fong snorted.

“Whatever Legate Damar had to do, he did it for a reason,” Ma'Kan's voice was firm. “I don't care what problems you have with yourself,” she looked at Jeto. “I don't like you blame us all for them.”

“How dare you!”

Ma'Kan jumped to her feet. She was young and Zamarran understood where her indignation was coming from. Her adult life fell on post-war years and she didn't remember times when Damar was only a Glinn and Gul Dukat's adjutant and later a powerless puppet in the Dominion hands. What she remembered was his rise to the rebellion and a hero's death. No one on Cardassia would be arrested for talking foul about Damar, but they surely wouldn't make many friends and wouldn't be invited to many parties. Ma'Kan belonged to that passionate group of people who believed that Damar's memory should not be spoiled. And being Gul Jarol's, who was Damar's close friend, protégé only strengthened her passion.

“Tell me, Bajoran,” she practically spat the word, “how many women did I rape during the annexation?” she hissed with hatred.

“Spoonhead!” Jeto yelled straight in Ma'Kan's face.

The Cardassian tactician roared and her arm made a wide swing with her fist swiftly moving toward Jeto's face to... be fended off by another armoured arm.

Ya'val was quick enough to prevent what was just about to happen. Ma'Kan didn't seem like she wanted to give up, so Zamarran decided it was time to intervene.

“Enough!” his voice filled the room and echoed from the bulkheads. The tactician looked at him with fiery eyes, but she submissively sat.

“You crossed the line, Lieutenant!” th'Arshar's voice wasn't as raspy as Zamarran's, but was as strong.

“You have it too,” Karama muttered, staring at his plate but it was obvious to everyone that his words were directed to Jeto.

“Karama,” Zamarran said menacingly. The communication officer cast him an angry glance and his eyes returned to his plate.

“Perhaps it would be better if we call it a day,” Ronus said.

“No,” the Glinn replied. “Captain,” he looked at th'Arshar. “We are two different crews and such incidents might be unavoidable. If we are to co-operate we have to find a way to control ourselves. Or learn that we can't control it before we waste our time and resources.” He looked at all present. “So we will stay here, finish this good food and try to behave like civilised people and not wild Klingon targs.”

“And no more talks about politics,” th'Arshar added.

Awkward silence hanged over them for a while, until Kapoor said. “I can see the Federation uniforms didn't change much.”

“No, but our communicators work better now,” Fong replied and the silence's weight lost a few tonnes.

“I'm sorry for Jeto,” th'Arshar said quietly to Zamarran, when the shimmer of talks again filled the room.

“I understand where her anger comes from,” the Cardassian replied. “But she must understand that not all of us are monsters. We must control our crews or you can leave the region and go on with your research of space.”

“You seem to forget that it was us who had found that vessel.”

“You seem to forget that the vessel is a Cardassian property and in Cardassian space,” Zamarran countered.

The Andorian looked at him for a moment and after a while, without saying a word, he returned his attention to his food.

Zamarran had no idea how he would file a report about this evening. Should he also include the ‘s’ word that Jeto had used? In a Cardassian report?


tbc
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Old October 20 2010, 05:03 AM   #39
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Re: ST: Shaping a Cardassian - The Shadow of the Order

WHAT?! That Federation captain didn't even bother to use Kapoor's rank! What an insult! It was bad enough with Zamarran, but doubly insulting with Kapoor.

Jeto's outburst...painful on SO many levels. She went over the line, big time, and it's very clear that she is the one who started the fight. I'm sorry to say, though, some of the Roumar crew did stoke the fire. While Ma'Kan was right that Jeto was wrong to blame all Cardassians for what happened to her mother, for Ma'Kan to claim that Damar had a reason for killing Ziyal flew against ALL reason. She should have at least--even if she didn't know the state was engaged in revisionist history (which she should have since she knows people who DID know Damar) known better than to say that to that particular audience. And of course while Jeto was the first to use racist language, Ma'Kan was the first to throw a punch.

I am glad Zamarran was able to swallow any pride that may have been offended by Jeto and lay down the law. Hopefully he will make the point as well once she's back on the Roumar, and she will learn that even if other people act like uncivilized boors with you, that you are not entitled to do it in return.

And the same for this Federation captain--I REALLY hope that he will give Jeto more than a slap on the wrist. I'm sorry to be cold, but part of being a member of any military is that your duty comes first, and your personal problems second. IF he intends to keep Jeto on this mission (and I doubt the wisdom of doing that), she has to get that point.

Both commanding officers lost in the end, though, because they didn't intervene sooner when they saw the situation getting bad. Was it because they both wanted their woman to win and prove a point? Not sure with this Federation captain, and with Zamarran I'd like to hope not.

The only winner here was Kapoor for trying to make peace. SHE was getting looks and suspicion, and didn't let it affect her professional conduct. (That said, I still think she could have made a more forceful statement--something to make it clearer that Damar WAS both a sinner and a saint.)
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Old October 20 2010, 05:21 AM   #40
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Re: ST: Shaping a Cardassian - The Shadow of the Order

It got so much out of hand that seems like the next chapter is going to be mostly, if not only, dealing to the "aftermath" of this dinner.

There was one more heated argument, which Ya'val or Karama were supposed to make, but in the light of your chapter - just recently posted - which deals with the Phoenix incident, I dropped it. It will re-appear sometime later, though, as it doubtful it's the end of their problems, arguments and mutual accusations.
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Old October 20 2010, 05:23 AM   #41
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Re: ST: Shaping a Cardassian - The Shadow of the Order

I never wanted for you to drop any material!!
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Old October 20 2010, 05:27 AM   #42
Gul Re'jal
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Re: ST: Shaping a Cardassian - The Shadow of the Order

Don't worry about it With the "friendly" atmosphere there it's good that no one said what I wanted them to say or punches would meet their targets And it might occur that Jeto his a phaser somewhere (just in case) and... I don't even what to think about it
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Old October 20 2010, 05:28 AM   #43
Nerys Ghemor
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Re: ST: Shaping a Cardassian - The Shadow of the Order

Okay...only if you're dropping it for a good plot reason. I don't want to affect your writing.
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Old October 20 2010, 05:38 AM   #44
Gul Re'jal
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Re: ST: Shaping a Cardassian - The Shadow of the Order

I had planned it for this dinner, but their discussion went a bit different way. And I decided not to forcefully squeeze it in; your chapter only enforced my impression it's not the time... yet.

It deals with the incident differently anyway. We will return to Ziyal and Damar too.
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Old October 26 2010, 08:41 AM   #45
Gul Re'jal
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Re: ST: Shaping a Cardassian - The Shadow of the Order

Here's only part of the next chapter. I decided to post it, as the other part takes ages to finish (but - hopefully - is going to be posted soon).

Chapter 5



Cardassian Union Warship Damar
Argaya Sector near the Cardassian Union border
24th day of the month of Lukyut, 532, Cardassian Union Calendar



Brenok entered his office and looked around. All officers, who had been to the dinner, were present. The Gul went to his chair and sat. “Computer, raise the temperature by three degrees,” he said. He knew they knew why he needed it and saw no reason to hide it, not any more. He looked at Zamarran who stood in front of the row of others. “Proceed,” Brenok said.

Zamarran nodded and then looked at the gathered Cardassians and the lone human.

“What had happened on the Federation warship was unacceptable,” he started. “We have lost control and I have to admit I am partly responsible for that.” He paused. “Lieutenant Jeto’s words are unfair and disturbing, but she doesn’t understand how wrong she is. She carries a trauma, probably implanted into her by her mother, and she reacts accordingly. What excuse do you have?” the question was directed to Ma’Kan. And since Zamarran did not continue, it was clear he expected an answer.

“Glinn, she spoke things... unbelievable things, insulting things and I couldn’t--”

“Those were only words, Gil!” Zamarran thundered. “Mistaken, twisted, but only words. Your action was inadequate. Thank Glinn Ya’val for his reflexes that stopped your hand or we wouldn’t have this pleasant conversation.”

Brenok scrutinised Ma’Kan. He already had read Zamarran’s report and knew the details, but decided to leave disciplining the officers to Zamarran who had witnessed whole incident in spite that in fact he was part of it.

Ma’Kan didn’t answer. She stared at Zamarran, but finally lowered her eyes under his angry gaze. She clenched her teeth and her jaws worked in anger. She cast a glance at Brenok, but reverted her eyes as soon as she realised he was looking at her.

“As our chief tactician,” Zamarran continued, “you are best qualified to work on this project, however if you cannot, you will be relieved.” Her head popped and she looked at the Glinn.

“I can.”

“Can you?”

“I can, Glinn. I can,” she assured him. “It will not happen again.”

Zamarran only growled in answer. His eyes went to Karama’s face. The younger Glinn didn’t look away. He clearly didn’t feel guilty of anything. Ya’val stared at the wall in front of him. He was angry. Brenok knew this face expression – Ya’val felt accused of something he didn’t do. He didn’t appreciate to be reprimanded for actions he would repeat if the situation would happen again for he believed he was right. Kapoor stood next to Ya’val, her eyes also fixed on the wall. Brenok couldn’t read her face.

“This is the first time we have any contact with aliens in almost twenty years,” Zamarran said, pacing in front of the row, his hands clasped behind his back, his eyes travelling from one face to another. “Our task is to work together and find answers to scientific mysteries. We are here not for political debates, historical debates or past crimes debates. We are here to do our jobs. You, we,” he corrected himself, “represent the Cardassian Union. We are faced with someone, who cannot forgive us our sins. We have to suffer her attacks. And we will. And we won’t say anything. For we can be above petty quarrels. We can ignore ugly words,” his eyes went to Ma’Kan’s and then Karama’s face. “If they can’t behave like civilised people, we will and we will show them how to do that. We will be their example. They can watch and learn. If we have to work with Lieutenant Jeto – and she starts again – don’t solve it yourself. Come with it to Gul Brenok, to me or to their Captain. Is that understood?”

“Yes, Glinn,” their replied in unison.

Zamarran looked at Brenok. The Gul moved his right shoulder under his armour, trying to relax his muscles and force the pain to lessen, then scratched his chin with his left hand and finally rose. Zamarran moved to join the row of officers and stood by their side, becoming one of them.

“Gil Ma’Kan,” Brenok started quietly. “Your behaviour was exceptionally outrageous. I cannot allow my officers attack other officers. What have you been thinking?” She opened her mouth, but he raised his right hand to silence her and a sharp pain shot through his shoulder. He winced and her eyes reflected his pain. “Don’t answer. I know that you didn’t think at all!” Last two words were spoken in a hard and firm voice. “I haven’t decided what to do with you yet, but you will not get anywhere close to the Federation crew.” She looked like she wanted to protest, but she glanced at his shoulder and didn’t say anything. It irritated him; he wasn’t a handicap who needed such kind of protection from his crew. “If I hear that you got yourself in trouble, any trouble, with the Federation people, the consequences will be permanent. Is that clear?”

“Yes, Gul,” she replied, straightening her back.

“As for everyone else,” Brenok looked at them, “I am disappointed in you. I expected you to be responsible and behave accordingly, but you decided to satisfy your needs for a pathetic squabble. I don’t care if it was them who started. You could have ignored that and show your maturity. But you didn’t. You added oil to that fire and it almost blew in our faces. From now on everyone, who works side by side with their crew, will file detailed reports at the end of the day, describing every event, every move, every discovery, every conversation, everything. If I find something not up to our standards, you will be severely punished. If I learn that you omit unpleasant details to avoid that punishment, your penalty will be so severe that you’d wish for the first one. I will not tolerate such childish behaviour,” Brenok raised his voice and it echoed in his office. “You are senior staff on the flagship of the Cardassian Guard, so behave as such! This is not the Academy! This is not a playground. You represent Cardassia and I don’t like the image you have drawn in the Federation heads!” He tightened his fingers into a fist as pain shot from his elbow to his neck ridge. “Dismissed!” he road not sure if he yelled because of anger or to relieve the tension created by the pain.

Everyone headed for the door, only Zamarran stayed in the room. Brenok returned to his chair and sat – or rather slumped – in it.

“You should have intervened as soon as it began,” he said quietly.

Zamarran approached the desk and stood towering over his Gul. “I know,” he said with pain in his voice and Brenok wasn’t sure if it was a regret that he hadn’t averted the situation or his current worry about his Gul’s suffering. “I am ready to accept my punishment.”

Brenok looked at him. He studied his aide’s face for a long moment. “I will make that decision later. Dismissed,” he said finally. He has learnt from Legate Jarol, who has learnt from Gul Corak – their former commander executed by the Dominion – that anger is not the best advisor to make decisions. He wanted to cool down first.

Zamarran didn’t move. “Do you need anything?” he asked. Brenok only shook his head. There was nothing Zamarran could do to relieve his pain. Zamarran nodded once, worry very clear on his face, turned on his heel and left.

Brenok closed his eyes and moaned quietly.

He should have gone with them, in spite of his pain he should have. Or maybe not? Maybe he would be additionally irritable because of the pain? Or maybe he would get furious listening to all the nasty things the Federation officers said about Damar? Maybe he would make it worse? He couldn’t know, he wasn’t there and reading a report wasn’t the same as witnessing the event. That’s why he left the first speech to Zamarran.

A chime to the door interrupted his reverie. He looked up to see Ma’Kan standing outside and waiting to be let in. He muttered “Enter” loud enough for the computer to pick it up and let her in.

“Sir,” she stood by his desk. He expected her to offer explanations regarding her behaviour, so her words took him by surprise. “I would like to apologise for my behaviour during the dinner. You were absolutely right, I should have shown more maturity than that. I lost my control and there is no excuse for that. I won’t happen again.” She paused. “I would like to ask you to reconsider the decision regarding my involvement in the project, sir. I would really like to participate in it and if you agree you will get nothing else but full professionalism from me.”

“Sit.”

She took a chair on the opposite side of the desk.

“Do you really think she deserved to be hit?” She opened her mouth to speak, but Brenok continued, “I want the truth, Gil. I want to understand why you were driven to such an action.”

She thought for a moment. “I don’t know, sir. I really don’t know the answer to that. It was that moment, in the heat of all those words. Sir, I graduated from the Academy after the war. Yet she accused me of atrocities done to her people.” Brenok noted she treated Jeto as a Bajoran and that she had called the occupation – which she was calling an ‘annexation’ - ‘atrocities’. “I didn’t rape her mother. Neither did anyone in the room. Why did she accuse Ya’val of lying when he had said he never drank Bajoran wine? She...” she hesitated, “she called Legate Damar a murderer,” she finished whispering. His face remained unchanged. “She called me – us – spoonheads,” Ma’Kan’s eyes opened wider at the memory of the event. “I know my reaction was bad but you are right – I wasn’t thinking. I was reacting. I never fought in any war. I never attacked another world. I never met a Bajoran until I met her. Why am I guilty in her eyes?”

“Are all Vorta guilty in yours?” Brenok asked quietly. The tactician silenced, obviously surprised by his question. “She seems very young,” he continued. “I don’t think she remembers the occupation of Bajor, but think how it was for her to grow up. She looks Cardassian, she looks so Cardassian that at first I didn’t realise she was a hybrid. I don’t know how much of her hatred is directed at us, our crew, and how much at her own face.”

“Does it give her any right to insult us all?”

“No, it doesn’t. I’m not trying to excuse her, Ma’Kan. I’m trying to show you that she is not fully responsible for her behaviour.”

“You say that we are. We, Cardassians. That soldier who assaulted her mother was responsible. Not you and not me.”

“But she doesn’t understand the difference,” he replied. “Sometimes it’s not easy to recognise that difference.” He thought about his own experience with the Klingons and the bat’leth that made him practically a handicap, a slave of his own pain. “Do you understand that?”

“I think so. I’m trying...”

“Try harder, Ma’Kan. I need you on this project. You have vast knowledge in weaponry and I believe that whatever this vessel out there is, it is some kind of military project. You are the best person to determine many factors related to this ship. I want you to be part of it, but I can’t allow any more incidents.”

“It won’t happen again, sir.”

“Even when she calls you a...” it was so hard to say this word, “spoonhead.”

“Even then, sir.”

“Even when she says that Legate Damar committed mass murder.”

“He didn’t, sir.”

“No, he didn’t. But she might believe he did.”

“He killed a traitor. Although she seems to think he killed her for being half-Bajoran, not for betraying her own father.”

Brenok sighed. Jarol has clearly corrupted this woman’s understanding of some matters. Brenok cared for Damar, his relation with the late Legate wasn’t as close as Jarol’s but he also had the right to call him ‘Corat’, however he knew that Damar had a dark side, a very dark side. Jarol might not realise that they shared that side and maybe that was the reason Brenok always stood out of that trio. Part of him wished that Ma’Kan’s fist met its target for Damar was like an older brother to him, but part of him revolted at the thought that Damar chose to shoot someone who posed no threat to Cardassia. Even the fact that Tora’s death removed Gul Dukat from Cardassia’s political scene wasn’t reason good enough to accept it as a necessary evil.

“Ma’Kan,” he started quietly, trying to ignore needles in his shoulder and elbow, “Legate Damar was a great man, but he was not ideal. Some of his actions were questionable, some of his opinions were questionable and there are some things he had done that no one talks about. Those things are going to be forgotten. I am sure Tret Akleen, Sar Marat or Gul Zager made a lot of mistakes about which we don’t know and will not know. They are buried in our history. And so will this be buried when all people, who knew or remember Damar, die. But make no mistake – this is Cardassian point of view. The Federation will remember him as Gul Dukat’s right hand. They will remember him as someone who fought against them in the Dominion War. The Klingons will remember him as someone who fought them in a stolen Klingon Bird-of-prey.” The same on which Brenok had been attacked, lost his ear, lost his health and almost lost his life. “For them he is not a hero. He is just another Cardassian and not a good one at that.”

“Sir,” she interrupted him. “I can accept critical words about him from a fellow Cardassian, but I cannot from a non-Cardassian. I do not criticise their heroes, whatever I think about them, because it’s not my place.”

“I understand that it’s difficult to sit quietly when someone talks badly about your home, but in this case we have to restrain ourselves.”

“Why?”

“Because they obviously can’t.”

“Do we need them? I mean – for this project. Do we need them?”

“No, we don’t. But Legate Jarol agreed to let them join us and those are our orders.”

That was sufficient for Ma’Kan; if Jarol wanted to make it happen, she would make it happen. Brenok wondered if Jarol was even aware how much reverence Ma’Kan had for her.

“Sir, please, let me stay in the team,” Ma’Kan pleaded quietly. “I give you my word I will behave. I will be deaf to any nasty attacks. I will ignore them. I know what I know and it doesn’t matter what they say.”

“At any sign of misbehaviour I’ll smack you back to the rank of Dja,” he said.

“Thank you, sir,” she allowed herself a small smile.

“Dismissed.”

She rose from her chair and hesitated. It was obvious she wanted to add something, but quickly changed her mind and left the office.

Brenok closed his eyes, grabbed his elbow and squeezed. It didn’t bring any relief, but for a second took his brain’s attention from the pain to the sensation of pressure. For only a second.
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