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Old January 2 2011, 11:44 AM   #1
Gul Re'jal
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Location: Gul Re'jal is suspecting she's on the wrong space station
ST: Shaping a Cardassian - "Strength Without Sacrifice is Useless"

As always, a regular warning about my Pinglish (Polish mixed with English)

The title is a paraphrase of Ability without honour is useless by Cicero.

__________________________________________________ ______


Strength without sacrifice is useless


Episode 1


Chapter 1


Gul Zamarran thought he would go mad within next three seconds. His nose was itchy, it was itchy the most itchy way possible and he could not scratch it! He wrinkled his nose, twisted it and even sniffed but it brought no relief. He tried to ignore it but the moment his hand flattened on the faceplate of his EVA suit headpiece he knew that it was impossible to ignore it. His fingers knew better and wanted to scratch!

“Sir,” Gil Kapoor gave him an attentive look, “Is everything all right with your EVA suit?”

“Yes, Kapoor, it’s fine,” he muttered.

She stared at him, clearly not believing him, so he stared back with the most grim look he could muster—and it wasn’t easy with the itchy nose!—and she finally averted her eyes.

“Thirty seconds, sir,” one of engineers behind him said.

“Acknowledged,” Zamarran muttered, wrinkling his nose. He glanced at Kapoor who tried so hard not to look at him...and not to laugh.

He looked at the console in front of him and then carefully, making sure he punched the right keys in the thick gloves he wore, entered a command. He could hear a hum of the station coming to life and lights brightened the interior. He checked the life support readings and it seemed that the place was almost fully filled with breathable air.

“All systems appear to work normally,” Kapoor reported.

“Anything wrong in other sections? The tactics?” Zamarran asked, wrinkling his nose. Again.

“No, sir. Everything is working within established—and expected—parameters.”

Zamarran turned off magnetic function of his boots, then jumped. And returned to the deck, just as it should be. “Artificial gravity works,” he said.

“Sensors indicate that we have the atmosphere,” one of engineers reported.

It took Zamarran only a nanosecond—he growled loudly, punched keys to release the lock on his face plate, which was not an easy task in the gloves, and raised it. Then he rubbed his whole face with his palms, hoping the gloves material would also reach the itchy skin on his nose. The relief was enormous.

Kapoor’s cheeks filled with air as she tried to stay serious and not explode with laughter. She removed her head piece.

“Go and check the neighbouring sections,” Zamarran ordered the others and a moment later he and Kapoor were alone in the maintains section.

As soon as the engineers left the human woman guffawed.

“Damn it, Kapoor! At least laugh quieter so they can’t hear you,” he growled but didn’t manage to hide his own smile. She covered her mouth with her hands, muffling the sound a bit. She was allowed to laugh, she was his best friend’s wife after all, but not in the presence of his other subordinates! That would be disastrous for discipline!

His lips’ ends twitched a bit but he had to maintain his serious face. He was on duty and that required some kind of dignified behaviour, didn’t it?

Reports from all over the station were coming in. He ordered to direct them all to the command centre and headed there himself, followed by Kapoor.

It’s been a year and a half since he had arrived to the Traken system with the plans, men and resources. Since that moment engineering crews worked twenty-four hours a day to construct the station according to his plans as soon as possible. When he had been designing the station along with greatest engineers of Cardassia, he had no idea how difficult it would be to put life into the theory. If he knew, he’d design something smaller and easier to built.

He took of his glove and touched the bulkhead. He slid his hand on it as he walked, enjoying the touch of his baby. It was the first time he had a chance to do it; up until now everyone had to wear EVA suits aboard the station. There still were unfinished parts of it, including five out of eight pylons, but after activating force fields and securing the completed elements—the most of tactical ring, the habitat ring and the pole—should be habitable. So far no one reported leaks, so he hoped there would be no more delays.

They had had some delays, unfortunately. Zamarran knew such things had to happen sometimes and there was no way of preventing them, but he was unsatisfied with himself that he had not foreseen them. He had been told that the time was of the essence, however he had also been told it had to be done properly, so if he needed more time, he’d get it. He knew why; no one needs a military outpost that falls apart after getting hit by one torpedo.

On top of that he had to deal with a dozen of civilian engineers. He couldn’t stand them. None of them. All twelve women were highly skilled professionals and totally arrogant monsters. He could deal with their demands of high standards, he set a high standard for himself, but he hated when they were treating him like an idiot just because he was a man. They were civilians and their thinking was purely engineering. He was also a soldier and they were building a military station, which had to answer to military needs. The women clearly couldn’t understand that and each time he implemented something that was unusual from their point of view, but necessary from the tactical point of view, they insisted he was making things unnecessarily complicated. No explanations could convince them. Fortunately, they had to follow his orders and they did, but not before moaning loudly about how inadequate his designs were.

He appreciated Kapoor’s presence by his side. Not only a woman, but also fully on his side. The civilian engineers seemed to trust Kapoor’s judgement more than his.

“Kapoor,” he said, turning his head to glance at the human woman who walked behind him. “How about a small celebration?”

“What are we celebrating?”

“Success in completing the main core of the station,” he answered. “I also thought that we might celebrate it on the station.”

Kapoor smiled. “Sounds good, sir.”

He didn’t tell her that he would also celebrate the leaving of the civilian engineers. Once the main part of the station was finished, the civilians’ roles came to an end. They weren’t needed for the pylons, those elements were a standard design.

“Where will we celebrate?” the human asked.

“How about in the command? Or do you prefer the tactics?”

“The command sounds great. I won’t be a frequent guest there, so I could use the opportunity,” she smiled.

“Not that you would be a frequent guest at the tactics.”

“No, but hopefully tactics would be mostly abandoned with only skeleton staff.”

He understood her sentiment. The command was the stations operating centre and it’s brain. The tactics was its tactical centre where the commanding staff would move in case of an attack. The command was on the top on the main pole of the station and it was quite a vulnerable place; that’s why Zamarran designed the tactics—a secondary command centre hidden deep in the pole and harder to destroy and kill all command staff of Rayak Nor. Normally, however, the tactics would be manned by only limited staff and all station operations would be performed from the advanced and multifunctional command centre.

“When does the boss come?” Kapoor asked when they entered the lift.

“Tomorrow.”

“And the rest?”

“Soon after that. She wants to inspect the station first.”

“I hope we’ll pass.”

“So do I, Kapoor, so do I.” He silenced for a moment and then smiled. “I am not sure but I think that part of our crew will arrive aboard the Damar.”

The human’s face brightened. Her husband served on the Damar as the gul’s aide and if the warship was coming to Rayak Nor, she would have a chance to see him.

The lift arrived to the command. They left it and entered to spacious chamber.

A row of consoles built into bulkheads, another row of consoles on level three—the commanding officer’s office was on the same level, to the left from the lift—and another row on level two and finally display screen and an oval tactical and operation table in the middle of the pit on the lowest level.

Most consoles were dark, as only life support and related systems were active.

“It’s huge,” Kapoor commented. “It’s bigger than Deep Space Nine’s.”

“Terok Nor was a mining station. This is a military outpost.”

“It was hard not to notice that instead of ore processing core we have torpedo launchers,” she flashed a smile.

“How do you feel about it, Kapoor?” he asked, going toward the door to the office.

“About what, sir?” she followed him.

“About building a Cardassian military outpost? Don’t you feel you work against your own people?”

“As far as I know it’s not about my people.”

They entered the office. There were two oval windows there, through which they could see engineering ships circling the station. A desk stood near one of the windows but chairs didn’t arrive yet. Zamarran leaned over the console that was built into the edge of the desk on left and activated the monitor.

“If we are at war with the Federation, this station would fight against them,” he explained.

“I hope it won’t happen. I’d hate to see any war and such a war especially.”

The gul straightened and looked around. There was a small shelf on the wall; he had installed it personally. He knew the commanding officer would bring a small sculpture with her and this little shelf’s sole purpose was to display that sculpture.

“Shall we go back, sir?” the gil asked him.

“You go ahead. I’ll stay a little longer,” he replied.

They left the office and she headed for the lift.

“Meet me here at eight,” he said. “Bring some real food, in case the replicators here won’t be co-operative.”

“I will, sir,” she smiled. “The inner ring,” she barked to the lift and a moment later was gone.

Zamarran looked around again. “Hi, station,” he said quietly. “Promise to be good, all right? Don’t bring us any shame? And don’t do anything I wouldn’t do.”

He touched one of screens and enjoyed the smooth and cold touch of the cover. He was tempted to activate holographic display that had been installed for the operations table, but resisted. He knew that only two cores out of five had been activated and the available energy might not be enough. The last thing he wanted to do was rto isk his engineers’ lives by taking energy from the life support in their locations.

He went to level two and sat at the engineering station. He entered a few commands and checked some systems. After that he just sat comfortably in the chair and enjoyed the quietness of the commanding centre. Soon, very soon it would be filled with life, noises, beeping and conversations.

Soon. Now, however, he was the master of silence in the command. He smiled and rocked in the chair, enjoying the moment.


tbc
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Old January 2 2011, 01:02 PM   #2
PrimaryAdjunct
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Re: ST: Shaping a Cardassian - "Strength Without Sacrifice is Useless"

Read it, its believable and awesome, kudos.
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Old January 2 2011, 08:12 PM   #3
Nerys Ghemor
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Re: ST: Shaping a Cardassian - "Strength Without Sacrifice is Useless"

Awwww, Zamarran talking to his precious, not-so-little station. I never would've expected him to do that. Did Ya'val teach him that trick?

I really hope there won't be another Federation-Cardassian war...that maybe, just maybe the events of the last story did start some kind of trust between the two peoples.
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Old January 3 2011, 01:22 AM   #4
Gul Re'jal
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Location: Gul Re'jal is suspecting she's on the wrong space station
Re: ST: Shaping a Cardassian - "Strength Without Sacrifice is Useless"

Zamarran used to work as a designer but never built anything he designed...until now. I think it changed his perspective Ya'val...well, he talks to everything

Read it, its believable and awesome, kudos.
Thanks for reading
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Old January 3 2011, 09:25 AM   #5
Gul Re'jal
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Location: Gul Re'jal is suspecting she's on the wrong space station
Re: ST: Shaping a Cardassian - "Strength Without Sacrifice is Useless"

Chapter 2


On the bridge of a massive Mar’kuu class warship, the Radalar, Gul Toral enjoyed a moment of quietness; no one bothered him and everyone was busy with their own assignments. Or too tired and all their energy was being directed to their tasks at hand. The gul’s thoughts started to drift; he thought of his esteemed guest, of the new station he was very curious about and of the last mission, which had been exhausting for everyone.

Gul Toral’s mind was completely absent, when his aide, Glinn Korel, approached him and said something that Toral’s drifting consciousness didn’t register. Korel patiently waited with a faint smile on his lips. Finally, Toral realised that he had been spoken to and glanced at his officer.

“The command asks if we stay docked,” Korel repeated just as if nothing strange happened.

“We stay docked,” Toral replied. “Also, please ask them if it would be possible for a shore leave for our crew.”

Toral was one of very few guls that used such words as ‘please’, or ‘thank you’. He was strict and demanding but no one could claim he was rude.

“At once, sir. How long do we stay?”

“At least a weak, however the shore leave would be limited to two days. Now, that the station is coming to life, the Klingons might get interested and until Rayak Nor is fully ready to defend itself on its own, it needs protection.”

“Yes, sir.” Korel left his side and went to his console.

Toral appreciated the glinn’s discretion. When on duty, duty matters were important and asking why your gul’s head was in clouds would not be welcomed. And Toral’s head was in clouds.

He was no less tired than his crew.

“Sir,” Korel was back at his side, “The command says that we can give our soldiers some time off but we must limit the number that is allowed to board the station. Not everything is online yet.”

“Reasonable. Please, prepare a duty roster and shore leave schedule for everyone.”

“At once, my Gul.”

Toral observed his bridge crew for a moment and then he too concentrated on work, namely, the recent movement of Klingon fleets.



“Mom.” No reply. “Mom!”

“What is it, Droplet?”

“Come to see this!”

Legate Jarol rose from behind her desk and approached her son who stood by a window. She stopped next to him and looked out. The Radalar was nearing the station and they had a clear view at it from their guest quarters.

“I thought it would be finished by now,” Demok said.

She put her hand on his shoulder. “It’s just the pylons. The rest should be ready.”

“And if it’s not?”

“Then I’ll have a particular part of Zamarran’s body on my plate.”

“Don’t tell me, I don’t want to know,” he laughed.

She ruffled his hair and returned to her desk. Demok observed her for a moment and then his eyes returned to the majestic station. There was a pole in the middle to which there were attached two rings, a smaller one inside a bigger one. There were three finished pylons stretching up and fourth that still waited for it’s curved tip to be completed, and four pylons that had been barely started on the bottom of the station. Rayak Nor was impressive, imposing and intimidating. It was his new home.

He had just graduated from university and was just about to start his apprenticeship, when the orders came and Legate Jarol had to come to Rayak Nor and take the command of the station. He had asked her to pull a few strings and let him have his apprenticeship on Rayak Nor, by the side of a local archon, as he didn’t want to be left alone on Cardassia.

Jarol, in fact not longer a legate but a gul again as she had stepped down from her Central Command function a year earlier, was now in command of the station on the edge of the empire. Rayak Nor was a military outpost and its prime function was an early warning in case of Klingon hostile movement.

He knew most young men his age were already independent and planning their future, but he still kept close to his mother. Having only her and never knowing his father, who had died before Demok was born, he was attached to her more than an average boy. Sometimes he thought that she was his best friend. She had a reputation of a harsh and tough woman and many kids were afraid that Demok would use his mother as a shield—to protect him from bullies or to bully with impunity himself; in the end he had very few friends and he never really trusted any of them, fearing that all they wanted was a pal with a powerful mother. But he didn’t complain. She had been nothing but loving, warm and wonderful mom for him, his best friend and someone, who helped him to hide his little sins from his grandparents. Sometimes he felt she was overprotective, but he was guessing that it was her compensation for two of his half-siblings that had been killed years before he was born. She tried to be the best mother for him and for them.

He glanced at a 3D holoimage of them on her desk. He made sure it was always charged and she wouldn’t have to see it fade or turn off. He had made it for a school project when he was a teenager. Uncle Arenn had helped him; Uncle Arenn was a skilled engineer and a substitute of a father for Demok.

His closest family was strange: a mother that had been one step from becoming the head of the empire—but she had refused—and an uncle who wasn’t really his uncle, but merely a friend of his mother’s. Her best friend. He wished he had such a friend. He looked at his mom.

“When does Uncle Arenn come?” he asked her.

“Soon.”

“Do the torpedo launchers on this thing work?” he asked, nodding toward the window. “What if the Klingons attack tomorrow?”

“Then you’re on the first transport back to Cardassia,” she muttered. “Don’t worry. The armament is one of priorities. Besides, Toral is supposed to stay here and protect us until we’re good enough to fight on our own. And even then, the nearest Cardassian sector is under his jurisdiction—he could be here to help us in no time.”

Demok knew that his mother trusted the main constructor—what’s his name? Zamarran? She had served with him before and during the war and trusted him. He also heard that there was a human in his team. Demok had never met an alien and was very curious about her.

“When does the archon come?”

“In three weeks.”

“Woohoo! Vacations!”

She gave him an amused look. “Don’t count on it. I have a job for you.”

“Awww...” He pretended that she spoiled his good mood.

A chime sounded and she allowed the guest to enter. It occurred to be Gul Toral.

“We will arrive to Rayak Nor in twenty minutes,” he informed them.

Demok’s mother raised her head and looked at him. “Thank you,” she said. “Will we dock at a pylon?”

“Affirmative.”

“Fine.”

Toral hesitated.

Demok knew that the good gul could tell her all those things through the comm. He also knew why the commanding officer came personally. Uncle Arenn had told him once that Gul Toral had a huge crush on his mother...for almost twenty-five years; and he never found courage to act upon those feelings. The young man smiled to himself; maybe he should help luck a little...

“Gul Toral, how long will you stay after dropping us off?” he asked.

“I am scheduled to stay for ten days,” the gul answered.

“Maybe you’d like to join us for a dinner after we settle in?”

Jarol gave her son a slightly surprised look and then glanced at Toral, awaiting his reply.

The gul blinked and then answered, “Thank you. That would be very nice.”

Demok knew that Toral didn’t use his traditional right to dine with his guests, but he didn’t intend to let the opportunity go. As a resident of the station he could ask the gul, who was a guest, to join them, couldn’t he?

“I’ll contact you with details,” the legate said and Toral nodded and left the room. “Why did you invite him?” she asked her son.

“Why not?”

She gave him an attentive look. “You never do things for no reason,” she said, squinting at him suspiciously. “What do you want from him?”

“Nothing!” Demok raised his hands in a gesture of defence.

“Laran!”

“Nothing! Honestly!” I want nothing from him, I want something for him. He didn’t want his mom to be alone for the rest of her life, he wanted her to be happy and Gul Toral was a decent man. Shy but decent.

A sly grin appeared on the young man’s face as soon as his mother’s eyes returned to the padd she was working on.



Legate Jarol, Gul Toral and Sub-Archon Demok waited for an airlock to roll away and then stepped onto the station.

“Welcome to Rayak Nor,” a handsome Cardassian with clear ridges and the rank of glinn said. “I am Glinn Borad, second in command of the station and chief of command centre.”

“Glinn,” Jarol nodded to him. She had studied his profile; she knew he had served in the Second Order command centre, where he proved to be a good administrator. “I am Legate Jarol,” she said, as if he didn’t know that. “Gul Toral and Sub-Archon Demok, my son.”

Borad nodded to both men. “Please follow me. Do you want to see your quarters first, or the command?”

“The command,” Jarol said.

They went to a lift and soon arrived to the command centre.

Borad let Jarol step out of the lift first. As she did so, she looked around the huge room. Three levels, top-of-the-art technology and...Zamarran in the middle of the pit, just next to a vast tactical table. The engineer looked up to see who arrived and his mouth stretched in a wide smile. He climbed up the stairs—his moves fast but still dignified—and stood in front of Jarol.

“Legate Jarol, it is my pleasure to welcome you to the station. I realise we’re a little behind the schedule but I give you my word that everything will be finished by this time next year. Every last detail.”

“Zamarran,” she grabbed his upper arms in both hands. “I fully trust your abilities. You have designed and built a beautiful thing.”

“Thank you, Legate. Now, would you like to see your office?” He stretched his hand toward the door to the office.

“Yes, I would.”

She followed Zamarran, while Toral, Borad and Demok stayed in the command.

The office was fully furnished. She had three wall monitors at her disposal and another one on her desk. A sofa, two armchairs and a coffee table in the far end of the room. She approached one of two windows and looked outside. She could see two rings and one pylon; it happened to be the pylon with the Radalar docked and the warship looked even more magnificently from this angle.

“I’m really impressed, Zamarran,” she said quietly. “This is an incredible station that you have designed.”

“I hope it’ll serve you well,” he nodded courtly.

She went to the armchair at her desk and sat. The gul observed her for a short moment and then quietly left the office.
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Old January 3 2011, 09:25 AM   #6
Gul Re'jal
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Re: ST: Shaping a Cardassian - "Strength Without Sacrifice is Useless"

He wasn’t sure if the thought of a dinner with Legate Jarol and her son terrified him or excited. She was a woman he admired for years; she was elegant and dignified, smart and brave and he would have to be blind not to see that she was also very beautiful. From the first moment he had seen her in Gul Daset’s office—his heart was doomed. However, she not only outranked him, she had been that kind of woman that a man like him had nothing to offer. He was so afraid to make a fool of himself in front of her that he hadn’t invited her for a traditional dinner while she had been aboard his ship. He was the gul and she was his guest, so there would be nothing strange in his invitation. But what would he say? What is she’d ask about something obvious and he wouldn’t know the answer? What if he would... His breathing stopped. What if she thought he was rude because he hadn’t invited her for the dinner?!

He sighed. He was rude, stupid, a coward and he didn’t know how come she even looked in his eyes when talking to him. She should look above his head.

He was nervous, he was beyond nervous. He stood in front of the door in a corridor and hoped no one, absolutely no one would be passing by to see him. It was too late to cancel it, wasn’t it? He couldn’t call and say that sudden, important matters stopped him, could he? It would work for this evening but tomorrow she’d go to her office and see that there was no emergency. Hell, she would know at once, because he was sure she’d offer to help with the crisis.

He took a breath and raised his hand to press the wallcomm. But he didn’t. His fingers stopped a centimetre from the big, oval button and he couldn’t make his arm move to complete the task.

Instead of pressing the button, his hand went higher and he smoothed his black hair. Then he took another breath and punched the comm unit in one sharp movement.

Too late to run!

The door opened and he saw young Demok smiling at him.

“Gul Toral, you’re right on time. Please, come in.”

The young man was an impressive person. Toral wasn’t sure if his achievements were a result of his mother’s high standards or he was just exceptional, but he liked this young Cardassian. Always friendly, polite and kind.

And then a forest nymph entered the room from an adjacent one.

She wore a green dress that perfectly matched her light grey skin. Her scales were so fair, so delicate. The blue chanth was blue, but the pigmentation on her neck ridges borrowed the colour from her dress and appeared greenish. Her hair was made into a bun, uncovering her neck ridges and the back on her neck. He admired her long neck and slim line.

“Toral,” she gave him a smile he had never seen before. An off-duty smile.

“L—legate,” he nodded his greeting and just then realised that he did not come empty handed. He raised a box with sweets but wasn’t sure who he should give it to: Jarol or her son.

The nymph solved the problem, sliding above the floor toward him and taking the box.

“Where did you get them?” Her face brightened when she realised it was a box of Assurian chocolates that were very rare and very expensive.

At first he wanted to tell the truth and admit he had a few boxes saved but he changed his mind.

“That’s my little secret,” he replied.

She gave him a mischievous look but her lips were stretched in a smile.

You’re doomed, Toral thought to himself.

“Come in,” she invited him inside with a gesture. “Laran, could you please finish setting the table?”

“Of course, Mom.”

The young man moved toward the table in the middle of the room. There were a few dishes on it, but no plates yet. Toral sat on a chair to which Jarol directed him and looked around.

Jarols moved in barely several hours ago and there was still a little mess around, but in spite of that parts of the room had been already decorated. There was a big painting of a desert on one wall and another of Lakarian City visible in an adjacent room. She also had an interesting collection of white weapons. However, what drew most of his attention were books. One bookcase was full and there were still many volumes stacked on the floor without their permanent place, yet.

“You like books,” he stated and immediately regretted his words. Thank you, Gul Obvious, how observant you are.

“I don’t have as much time to read as I’d like to, but yes, I like them in the old-fashioned form. Reading from a padd tires my eyes.”

He looked at her; he looked at her beautiful eyes. Gentle, warm eyes.

“Do you read?” she asked.

“Not as much as I should.” Because you’re an idiot and stupid. “And my library is electronic,” he smiled apologetically.

“I suppose it’s easier when you move to a new house,” she said.

“Err...” he wasn’t sure how to respond.

“Permission to laugh, Toral,” she smiled softly.

IDIOT!!!!

He forced a small chuckle and she gave him an attentive look.

Great, now she knows he shits his pants.

Demok entered the room with plates and placed one in front of his mother and the other one in front of Toral.

“Where’s the third one?” Jarol asked her son.

“I just recalled that there is something I have to do, so please forgive me, but I won’t be able to join.”

“What could you have to do now?” she was clearly surprised.

“Important matters, Mother,” he said, his tone of voice official.

She stared at him for a long moment and her eyes moved to Toral’s face only when Demok left the room.

“He’s up to something,” he whispered conspiratorially, leaning to the gul over the table.

But Toral’s head was full of one notion only—he would be all alone with Jarol. Just him and her. Face to face.

Wait a minute... He shot a suspicious glance at the door behind which Demok had disappeared. The young Cardassian reappeared a moment later, smiled to him and headed for the door to the corridor.

“I’ll be back in a few hours. Have fun,” he said and before any of them had a chance to say anything, he left the quarters.

Jarol stared at Toral with disbelief. “You know something,” she said. “I think he set us up!”

Toral didn’t know what to say. He agreed with her but he wondered if it was just Demok’s fantasy or he really knew something. Toral never talked to anyone about his admiration for the legate... No one except for Gul Brenok...who was a family friend...and who could have told Demok.

The gul didn’t know if he was mad at Brenok, or at Demok. Or both. But he knew he certainly would have a talk on the subject of privacy with the good gul.

And then his eyes lay on the pretty face of the woman opposite him and he wondered that maybe instead of killing Brenok he should thank him. Or thank him and then kill him.

“I’m afraid everything is replicated,” Jarol said.

“I’m used to replicated food. I can only hope that replicators on a station are better than on my ship.”

She chuckled. “Don’t count on it, they come from the same factory.”

“We need a new factory, then.”

They chatted. At first he was carefully choosing his words but with time, drunk with her charm, laughter and beauty, he started to relax.

They finished their evening sitting on a sofa, facing a huge oval window in the main room of her quarters and eating the chocolates that he had brought.

Toral knew one thing. He always admired her, liked her, feared her and supported her, but all he knew was a soldier. All he saw was an armour. Here, just at the other end of the sofa, on the other side of the half empty chocolate box that lay between them, with her legs tugged under her, in the green dress and with three rows of shapely scales on her neck ridges—his heart belonged to her. If he weren’t in love with her before this evening, he was now.

He still had one problem, though. What could he offer this forest nymph? What could he do to win her heart?

“I should be going,” he said quietly, although it was the last thing he wanted to do.

She smiled to him, grabbed the box of chocolates and moved it toward him. “One more to sweeten your way back to the warship.”

He grinned like a little boy and took two. She laughed.

When the door to her quarters closed behind him, he smiled to himself. He moved along the corridor and almost stumbled over something behind a curve.

“Demok?” he asked surprised, seeing the young Cardassian sitting on the floor.

“Uh-oh, I guess I chose the wrong corridor to hide,” Demok rose to his feet. “How was your date?”

Toral neared his face to Demok’s. “I should kill you,” he growled, squinting at the young man.

“My mom would never forgive you that, you know.”

Toral kept staring at the other man’s face and then smiled. Demok smiled back and the gul resumed his walk without any more word.

He was in a great mood.


tbc
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Old January 4 2011, 02:19 AM   #7
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Re: ST: Shaping a Cardassian - "Strength Without Sacrifice is Useless"

Awwwwww, Toral's cute! He's definitely not what most people would imagine as a gul--so softspoken and gentle...but he's wonderful!

His inner commentary was hilarious, but at the same time it really made me feel his nervousness!

BTW, I don't know if I missed it, but did you mention somewhere that after someone has been a legate on your Cardassia, that they retain the title as a "ceremonial" title, kind of the way former presidents or governors do?
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Old January 4 2011, 02:39 AM   #8
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Re: ST: Shaping a Cardassian - "Strength Without Sacrifice is Useless"

Yes, I did mention that in Shadow story comments.

Jarol is a gul, actually she's the same grade as Toral, but she still is called "legate". She's not a legate any longer so this is only politeness of others. She wears a gul's armour and that rank is printed on it.

I'm glad you like Toral. Soon you'll have a chance to see his "duty" side
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Old January 5 2011, 03:35 PM   #9
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Re: ST: Shaping a Cardassian - "Strength Without Sacrifice is Useless"

Chapter 3


Jarol didn’t settle in her office yet, when a chime at the door sounded. She looked up from behind her desk to see Borad and Zamarran standing outside. “Enter,” she said to the computer and the door parted.

“Legate,” both men greeted her.

“What can I do for you, gentlemen?” she asked.

Zamarran and Borad looked at each other and then the glinn made an inviting gesture with his hand.

“Legate, there is one thing that we have to inform you,” the gul started. “It has been kept secret and I believe it should stay so, for security reasons.”

“Sit,” she said and they both sat. “Details,” she demanded.

“This is a military outpost, however, presence of civilians in inevitable,” Zamarran continued. “In case of a battle, a soldier’s duty is to fight and sometimes to die, but it’s not a civilian business.” He paused. “I have designed a special precaution...” he hesitated. “A special room. It is hidden deep inside the pole and its walls are made of tritanium. It can host up to twenty people. In case of an attack, all civilian personnel should be taken there. The room should withstand the station’s destruction. It is equipped with a cloaking device and stores food and water for approximately two weeks. It is also equipped with a beacon to make it easier for a rescue warship to find it.”

Jarol listened carefully. “Why wasn’t I informed of this earlier?” she asked eventually.

“I have decided that the existence of this room—we have called it a ‘panic room’,” he added, glancing at Borad, “should be kept a secret. That way an attacker would not look for it and leave it behind.”

“Who built it?”

“The elements had been prepared by standard workers, however they knew not what those elements were for. Glinn Borad and I have assembled it ourselves.”

“We believe that you, as the commander of the station, should be aware of its existence and you should make the decision when to send civilians there,” Borad said.

“We also considered another option,” Zamarran continued. “It seemed unlikely, now, however... it could work.”

Borad spoke again, “There could be one civilian that would be responsible for civilian evacuation and safety and who would be aware of the ‘panic room’s’ existence and availability. It seems to be the best option, but as we know a civilian is not a soldier and keeping military secrecy is not in their training.”

“However, there might be one civilian aboard who could meet those standards. It is up to you to decide if we are right or wrong, as you know him the best.”

“You mean my son,” Jarol guessed.

“Indeed,” Borad confirmed.

“How many people know about this ‘panic room’?” she asked.

“Right now?” Zamarran looked at Borad and then back at her. “Three.”

“How many civilians are we going to have aboard the station?”

“Sub-Archon Demok, two young Karamas, the archon, three from the Federation--” Jarol raised her hand, interrupting Zamarran.

“You count Starfleet as civilians?”

“If we are attacked, this would be our war. They don’t need to fight and die in it,” the gul explained.

She was surprised by that reasoning but could understand it.

“Of course, if they choose to fight, they are most welcome,” Borad added.

“Fine. Who else?” Jarol looked back at Zamarran.

“The archon’s staff of four. Total eleven resident civilians. We might have guests sometimes.”

The legate nodded; it made sense to her. It made a lot of sense considering that one of the civilians was her own son. “I will think about designing my son the...chief civilian and charging him with this responsibility. Is this ‘panic room’ ready?”

“It is,” Zamarran confirmed. “Including the resources needed for survival.”

“I am responsible for making sure that the food is always edible,” Borad said.

Jarol slightly shuddered. If no attack would happen for a long time—or never, although it seemed unlikely—there would be a lot of food thrown out after its expiration date. Wasting food was outrageous...but in this case it seemed necessary. “Maybe replicators would be a better idea?” she suggested.

“There is one,” Zamarran said. “However, it is in case of emergency. It would be best to save the energy for life support and the beacon that would be sending a signal. In addition, the replicator’s main purpose would be to replicate spare parts in case of malfunctions.”

“Good thinking.” She had to admit he was right.

“Very well, then,” Zamarran rose but Borad stayed in the chair. The gul shot him a glance and then looked at Jarol.

“Dismissed,” she said and shifted her attention to her aide.

“I have been notified that the Damar is on its way here and should arrive in two hours. They will bring most of our senior staff.”

“Good.”

“I have also been notified that USS Yuen Long is going to be here in three hours.”

“How many do they send?”

“Three. To my surprise, only one of them has diplomatic speciality. The other two are scientists.” He handed her a padd. “Here are their profiles.”

She took the padd and activated it. A moment later she understood the strange choice for a diplomatic team. “We will meet Starfleet at the airlock, then invite them to a tour around the station.”

“I have also prepared a list of places out of their reach,” he handed her another padd. “Not many, but I believe security has priority.”

She opened the file; the list was opened by the tactics, followed by the tactical ring and armoury. “They won’t be happy,” she commented.

“I don’t see a reason why we should share our technological information with them. As I understand it, they are here to make sure we don’t spy on them. They don’t need access to our torpedoes to know that.” She gave him an attentive look. Did he have something against Starfleeters? “This station,” he continued, “is the latest achievement of our military technology. I don’t want to share it with anyone, especially not with someone who is friends with the Klingons. For all we know they could be here to spy on us for the Klingons.”

“Remember I was the one who negotiated the non-aggression treaty. I know all the details of the agreement and of the conditions of their stay here.” He didn’t say anything, clearly not convinced. “I don’t say I trust them, but let’s not assume they came here to do harm. Especially considering who two of those three are.”

“Why?”

“Gul Brenok had a lot to do with that choice, Borad. He knows those people and he trusts them.”

The glinn appeared slightly surprised. She knew he could not have known of the mission the Damar and USS Karamazov shared three years earlier, but she had enough details—and faith in Brenok’s choices—to accept her friend’s suggestions as the best option. Only the third officer was an unknown.

Borad seemed to accept her judgement.

“Is there anything else?” she asked him.

“No, Legate, that’s all for now.”

“Dismissed,” she barked and he left the office.

There was one more thing she wanted to do.




“Sir,” Gil Tari at the communication station turned to look at Gul Brenok. “We are in range and can hail USS Yuen Long.”

“Fine,” Brenok rose from his chair. “Hail them and tell them I want to talk to Captain Ronus. And patch it to my office.”

“Yes, Gul.”

Brenok went to his room and sat in the chair, waiting for the connection.

The Trill’s face appeared on the monitor about a minute later.

“Greetings, Captain,” the gul smiled.

Gul Brenok, how nice to see a friendly face!” the Trill seemed relieved.

“Something wrong?”

No, I’m just terribly nervous,” Ronus smiled sheepishly.

The long-haired Cardassian gul smiled even wider. “I just wanted to give you a little advice before we meet officially.”

Oh?

“You’re going to meet Legate Jarol, who is in command of this station,” Brenok explained. “Don’t let her intimidate you,” he said seriously. “Don’t get me wrong, she is my friend and I think very highly of her, but if you don’t present yourself as a strong opponent at once, you’d need a long time to build a respectful working relationship with her.”

Is she that scary?” Ronus’s nerves were already on the edge, he didn’t need more.

“You bet,” Brenok laughed. “She’s a predator. Be one too and you’ll do fine.”

Are you going to be there when I meet her?

“Yes, I am. And so is Gul Zamarran.”

He’s here too?

“He’s commanding the engineering team.”

To be honest, Gul Brenok, I’m terrified.

“Don’t be. It won’t be any different than the last time.”

It will be and you know it.

Brenok smiled. “Congratulations on your promotion, Captain.”

For some incomprehensible reason Starfleet Command believed I was the right man for the job.”
Brenok only smiled mysteriously. He had asked Captain th’Arshar to support his decision of choosing Ronus for this assignment and the Andorian had agreed with him that the Trill would be perfect, not only because he had recent diplomatic experience but also because one of his previous hosts had spent a lot of time with Cardassians and he was not biased against them. Th’Arshar had convinced Starfleet Command that they could not afford a mistake in such an important task and Ronus had already proved that he was able to work with the Cardassians. “We await your arrival,” he said and signed off.

Brenok was just about to return to the bridge, when he realised that Glinn Karama was headed for his office. He waited for his aide to enter.

“What is it?”

“Sir,” Karama looked at his shoes and then back at the gul. “This is a...I’d like...”

Brenok patiently waited, slightly amused. It’s not that often that you see your officer, who has been serving with you for decades, to nervously stutter in front of you.

“Just spit it out, Karama!” he said finally.

“It’s rather a personal matter...and not one following the regulations, but...” Silence. Brenok didn’t say anything and waited. “I know it’s...” The glinn took a deep breath and said in a strong, although a bit shaking, voice and one fast and unbreakable sentense. “I would like to request a permission to be able to stay aboard the station when off-duty, sir.”

Brenok did all his best to keep his face serious. In other words, you want to be with your family, he thought. “Granted,” he simply said. “I’ll inform Legate Jarol.” It was against the rules but he didn’t care.

“Thank you, sir!” Karama’s face brightened with his wide smile, his eyes changing into happy, narrow crescents, and he left the office in a light, jumpy pace.

“The crew is happy, the gul is happy,” Brenok muttered to himself.

The Damar was one of two warships scheduled to protect the station before it was tactically ready, which would take a week or two, and Brenok couldn’t blame his aide that the man wanted to spend his free time with his wife and kids, instead of his empty quarters and especially since he saw them so rarely.

Kids...Kids on a military outpost. He shook his head, not believing it.



Jarol entered the infirmary and looked around searching for the chief medic. A civilian nurse opened her eyes wider when she noticed the legate, but Jarol smiled to the woman. “Where is--”

“Legate Jarol!” She heard a familiar voice behind her. She turned to see precisely the person she was looking for.

“Medic Taret, it’s been a long time,” she smiled.

“Indeed, it has.”

Taret had been serving under Jarol aboard the Roumar for years...thirty years ago.

“This is not just an amicable visit, Medic,” she said, getting straight to the point.

“Isn’t it? Any medical problems?” he asked her.

“No. Could we talk in private?”

“Of course. Please, follow me to my office.”

Taret, after the joint mission of the Damar and USS Karamazov three years earlier, had decided to leave Military Medical Corps and not work aboard a warship again. His assignment on Rayak Nor was the last one before leaving the military and settling on Cardassia.

“Do you enjoy your work here?” Jarol asked him when they arrived to his office.

“I do. I’ll take a broken arm over a Jem’Hadar weapon wound any time,” he offered her a seat with a gesture but she shook her head.

“Do accidents happen often?”

“No, not serious ones anyway. I think I get more flu cases than crushed bones.”

“Do you have any specific plans for your career on Cardassia?”

He eyed her suspiciously; he suspected her questions weren’t just a small talk.

“Nothing specific. Why?”

“I would like to offer you this post permanently,” she said. “I know you are supposed to return to Cardassia on the Damar in two weeks, but I’d like you to stay. You would still fix broken bones and cure flu.”

“Until the first battle,” he smiled bitterly. “And what about the new medic, who is on his way here?”

“Albek can take care of the battle cases.”

Taret stared at her. She expected him to refuse at once and was prepared to fight, but he seemed to consider her offer.

“Why?” he asked finally.

“Because I trust your experience. Because you know the people here. Because I think your talents would be wasted in some village on Cardassia. Because I think you’re the best.”

“How much time do I have to make that decision?”

“As much as you need.”

“I will consider it. However, you have to promise me one thing.”

“What is it?”

“When I make my decision, you will accept it.”

She sighed. “All right,” she agreed after a moment. “Is there anything I could bribe you with before you make it?”

“No,” he smiled. “But thanks for thinking about me.”

She grinned too. Taret has changed; there was something different about him but she wasn’t sure what exactly.

“I’ll await your decision,” she said, turned and left his office.
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Old January 5 2011, 03:35 PM   #10
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Re: ST: Shaping a Cardassian - "Strength Without Sacrifice is Useless"

Ronus decided to check Legate Jarol’s profile.

He accessed her biography, quite long and partially unavailable to him, and started to read.

She was presently a gul, grade four, and in command of Rayak Nor. She had been a legate in the Cardassian government for twenty years and it was her who had negotiated the current non-aggression pact with the Federation. She had stepped down a year earlier and was posted on the station.

Her military career was quite colourful, from the Border Wars to Terok Nor to the Maquis to the Dominion War and Damar’s rebellion. Ah, yes, she was Legate Damar’s close friend too.

Reading through the file left Ronus with one inescapable impression—Jarol was not a fan of the Federation and a difficult woman. Even Brenok knew that if he warned him.

“Fascinating, isn’t she?” A familiar voice spoke behind him. He turned to look at the tall Skorr.

“Intimidating would be a better description,” he replied.

“It won’t be that bad.”

“Av’Roo, I’m not sure I can do it,” he admitted. “I’m not big politics person.”

“That’s why we have Commander T’Sarik. She’s the diplomat, we’re only a smile, a sign of goodwill.”

“A very scared sign.”

Av’Roo sat next to him. “I look forward to this assignment. I look forward to exchanging knowledge and experiences.”

“You look forward to meeting Gul Brenok, admit it.”

“Well, that too,” she smiled. She had very warm feelings for the gul since the first time she had heard him singing.

Captain Ronus, please report to the airlock,” Captain Mokkmak’s—the starship’s commander’s—voice sounded.

“I’m on my way,” the Trill replied, tapping his communicator. Then he pressed it again. “Ronus to T’Sarik, please meet me at the airlock.”

Acknowledged,” the commander confirmed and signed off.

Ronus looked at Av’Roo.

“It’s going to be fine, relax,” she patted his shoulder.

“Yeah, yeah,” he muttered, unconvinced.

Both officers headed for the airlock, where they met with the third one of their team. She nodded courtly to them both and then they all looked at the huge cog wheel that was rolling away into a bulkhead.

Ronus saw five Cardassians: one woman and four men. He knew Brenok and he knew that the woman had to be Legate Jarol—why did they still call her a legate if she wasn’t one any longer?—so his attention went immediately to the female to recognise her highest authority.

Brenok was right. She looked like the embodiment of power. Like a queen; not of this station, of the whole galaxy. She held her head high, gazed at him with her eyes without a shadow of shyness, her hands firmly clasped behind her back. The perfect match for this intimidating station. Ronus was sure she could kill Klingons with her sight only. He had read an Earth tale recently. This was Medusa herself here, in front of him. One look and you’re a piece of stone.

“Welcome to Rayak Nor, Captain Ronus,” she said, nodding. “Allow me to introduce my aide, Glinn Borad. This is Gul Toral of the Radalar,” she pointed to a man who was her height—which seemed to be on the edge of ‘short’ for Cardassian standards, at least in the present company—and who nodded to the Trill without any friendliness on his face. “You know Gul Brenok and Gul Zamarran.”

Ronus genuinely smiled to the last two. “I do,” he confirmed. “May I congratulate you on your promotion, Gul Zamarran,” he added.

The engineer seemed to be surprised at first. Then he said, “It’s been quite some time. And my congratulations to you, Captain.”

“This one is fresh, I’m still not used to it,” Ronus said pointing to the pips on his red collar and then thought that it was not the time to chat with old acquaintances. “Please allow me to introduce Commander T’Sarik and Lieutenant Commander Av’Roo.”

No Cardassian is taller than Av’Roo, ha! Was it silly to feel satisfaction about it?

“We have arranged quarters for you. Would you like to refresh first or a tour of the station first?” Jarol asked politely. Why did he have an impression her smooth voice was forced?

T’Sarik looked at Ronus, awaiting his answer and he was sure he knew what she was thinking. “The station, if it’s not too much trouble,” he decided.

“Follow me, then,” Jarol moved. “Glinn Borad will take care of your belongings and have them transported to your quarters,” she added.

Ronus wondered if the Cardassians would check their stuff first; to make sure they didn’t smuggle anything that the owners of the station wouldn’t like. Not that he had anything to hide but invading his privacy was not something he appreciated. He decided not to ask, though. One shouldn’t alienate his co-workers on the first day, should he?

Indeed, Glinn Borad stayed behind.

Ronus followed Jarol, T’Sarik walked next to him with Toral on her other side. Brenok, Zamarran and Av’Roo closed the parade.

“Legate Jarol,” T’Sarik said, “We have received plans of the station, however they appear incomplete.”

“Yes. I’m afraid some parts of Rayak Nor are unavailable for you. You would not need any use of them, anyway.”

“And what kind of secret can you hide in a habitat ring?”

Jarol stopped in front of a lift door. “The habitat ring should be on your plans,” she said.

“There is but only one. What about the other one?”

“Ah,” Jarol smiled smugly. “The other one is not a habitat ring, Commander.”

“Oh,” T’Sarik’s slanted eyebrow raised but she didn’t say anything more.

“I have assumed this design is just a magnified Deep Space Nine,” Av’Roo said.

“It’s not,” Zamarran replied. “While I have used the standard blueprints for space stations, only some elements were implemented. The design itself is original.”

You designed this?” Av’Roo waved her hand and her wing around.

“Yes.” Zamarran’s lips twitched in an attempt to stop his grin.

“I’m impressed.” The Skorr’s tone of voice confirmed her words.

After a ride on the lift they left to another corridor.

Gul Torat? Tural? Tarel? Moved a little ahead of Ronus and T’Sarik and walked just behind Jarol, which gave the Trill an occasion to take a better look at him. The Cardassian seemed older than Brenok but younger than Zamarran. His body was of a strong build but it was obvious to Ronus even through the armour that it was all muscle and not a gram of fat. The man paced making long strides, gazing ahead and only sometimes glancing at the woman ahead of him a bit to his left. His hair—black but the Trill had an impression that it shone with a few very thin silver wisps—was quite long and reached the nape of his neck. Two rows of very thick scales covered his neck ridges. Ronus looked down and saw that on the edge of the gul’s wrist was visible faint ridge—he knew it was the end of the extension of the neck ridge that went along the shoulder and arm down to the hand. A big hand, in this case.

They arrived to big doors. Jarol pressed the button on the wall and the doors opened, showing some sort of command centre.

“Welcome to the brain of the station,” the legate said.

Ronus was awed. Impressed. Astonished.

“Striking,” T’Sarik said.

“We have assigned you your own space,” Zamarran said, walking forward. “I am not sure what kind of tasks you would like to perform, so two consoles still need to be programmed, however one is ready for use. It is a sensor console. While you wouldn’t be able to perform any active scans, you can receive them and perform passive scans.”

“How limited are we?” Av’Roo asked.

“We have prepared full information for you,” Zamarran replied. “You will find padds in your quarters. They contain our regulations and everything you need to know before you get acquainted with the station and our style of work.”

“With all due respect, we do not work for you,” T’Sarik pointed out.

“I know that. However you work among us and it would be wise to follow our protocol. To avoid misunderstandings,” he added after a moment.

“Of course,” the commander smirked at him.

For a diplomat, she is quite irritable, Ronus thought. “How is our duty schedule going to be planned?” he asked.

“We leave that to you, Captain,” Jarol answered. “However, please inform Glinn Borad of that schedule earlier.”

“Naturally,” Ronus nodded. So, they don’t expect to order him around...all the time.

“I have a question,” Av’Roo asked. Everyone looked at her. “What exactly is the chain of command?”

“Your contact is Glinn Borad. He is the chief of the command centre. Then—me.”

“How about Gul Zamarran? Isn’t a gul outranking a glinn?” Av’Roo was clearly puzzled.

“Gul Zamarran is in command of the engineering team. You would have nothing to do with him. In a way, he is a separate entity on this station.”

“I see. In case of crisis, whose orders prevail, Zamarran’s and Borad’s?”

“Zamarran’s.”

“Who takes command if you are incapacitated?”

“Zamarran.”

“And Borad.”

“Borad becomes Zamarran’s aide.”

Av’Roo blinked. “I need to read that protocol of yours,” she said.

Jarol smiled slightly but Ronus could not guess what that smile meant.

“Let’s continue, shall we?” The legate moved on.

Ronus felt panic raising in his throat; this assignment was too much for him...so much too much.



tbc
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Old January 6 2011, 03:26 AM   #11
Nerys Ghemor
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Re: ST: Shaping a Cardassian - "Strength Without Sacrifice is Useless"

There's no doubt...Taret is still haunted by the things he had to see and do aboard that terrible charnel-house of a ship. It's good that Albek will be able to take care of the wounded in battle, but I still worry about Taret, whether it would be good for him to be in this position or not. I don't mean that as any sign of disrespect; it's just that sometimes a real, permanent change is necessary to cope with something on the level of the trauma he witnessed and experienced.

While I think the Federation representatives are smart choices, because two of them will know some of the people aboard this station...I have to admit it, I worry that Jarol is going to sabotage this somehow (either intentionally or subconsciously) because she does not want this to work. And with Ronus nervous, it's not a good combination.
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Old January 6 2011, 05:18 AM   #12
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Re: ST: Shaping a Cardassian - "Strength Without Sacrifice is Useless"

Nerys Ghemor wrote: View Post
I have to admit it, I worry that Jarol is going to sabotage this somehow (either intentionally or subconsciously) because she does not want this to work. And with Ronus nervous, it's not a good combination.
Don't ask me, I don't know where this is going
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"Reagan, it appears, is really only an ardent unionist if the unions in question are in Poland" - Stephen King, Skeleton Crew
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Old January 6 2011, 05:44 AM   #13
Nerys Ghemor
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Re: ST: Shaping a Cardassian - "Strength Without Sacrifice is Useless"

BTW...I just have to add, there's some humor in a Trill wondering how far Cardassian ridges go.
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Old January 6 2011, 06:02 AM   #14
Gul Re'jal
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Re: ST: Shaping a Cardassian - "Strength Without Sacrifice is Useless"

Pun intended
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"Reagan, it appears, is really only an ardent unionist if the unions in question are in Poland" - Stephen King, Skeleton Crew
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Old January 17 2011, 05:18 AM   #15
Gul Re'jal
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Location: Gul Re'jal is suspecting she's on the wrong space station
Re: ST: Shaping a Cardassian - "Strength Without Sacrifice is Useless"

Chapter 4


Asu Ronus heard a chime and went to the door to see who was his first visitor in his new home.

T’Sarik.

“Captain,” she greeted him. He wished she’d stop being so official. There were only three of them here and off duty they could drop the ranks.

“Please, come in.” He moved aside to let her in. “What can I do for you?”

“Did you have time to read through the rules on the padd, sir?”

“Of duty, it’s simply Ronus.”

“All right,” she smiled slightly, scratching her pointed ear. “Did you?”

“No, not yet. I only skimmed it.”

“I take it that you didn’t skim through the communication restrictions.”

“No,” he said slowly.

She handed him her padd with a bookmarked page. “Read.” He took it and his eyebrows raised. “I can’t follow those rules, captain,” she said quietly. “I can’t be cut off from my family this way. Not for such a lengthy assignment.”

He looked at her; she was worried, really worried. He gave her the padd back and took his. “Let’s go through this together and then I will talk to Legate Jarol.”



Medic Albek was excited. He had volunteered for this assignment and was very happy that he got it—as it had occurred there were many candidates for the chief medic position on Rayak Nor.

He had proved to be the best of all of them.

He would serve under Legate Jarol. The legendary Legate Jarol. He so wanted her to become the head of the Union but serving under her on this station was the next best thing.

He was the last one to transport to the station. All other officers were already there but he had promised Medic Boreep to help him finish his tests and he wasn’t in a habit of breaking his promises.

He grabbed his bag and looked at the transporter operator. “Energise,” he said and dissolved in the orange light. He rematerialised in a huge chamber.

“Welcome to Rayak Nor, Medic,” a glinn greeted him. “I am Glinn Borad.”

“Ah, yes,” Albek smiled.

Borad motioned to some garesh who took Albek’s bag. “He will take you to your quarters,” he said.

“All right,” the medic glanced at the office door, wondering if Legate Jarol was inside. Then he followed the garesh to a lift.

“Garesh,” he said after they entered a corridor. “Take it to my quarters. I will head for the infirmary.”

“Yes, sir,” the soldier nodded. “The infirmary is—”

“That way, I know.”

Just in front of the infirmary door Albek saw Gul Brenok who obviously was headed for the same place. The young gul entered the infirmary with Albek right behind him.

“Medic Taret,” Brenok said and a medic, Albek thought he and Taret had to be the same age, turned to see who called him.

“Gul Brenok!” Taret was clearly happy to see Brenok. He rose from his chair and approached the gul. “How are you!”

“The same as always.”

“And your shoulder?”

“I manage. That sauna you had designed helps a lot.”

“I’m glad to hear that. Zamarran had helped me with technical matters. I never knew he had such a vivid imagination,” he laughed.

“Saratt sends his regards,” Brenok said.

“How is he?” Taret's eyes shone and Albek guessed that Saratt person was someone he cared a lot about.

“He’s got better and worse days, but more of the former. He refused every kind of prosthetics, he says he’s a Cardassian, not a plastic doll.”

“That is understandable. I hope he is not bitter, though.”

“On the contrary. Unless he’s after exhausting medical session, he can be incredibly cheerful. I don’t know how he does it.”

“Happiness of a survivor, I suppose. I must write him a letter; I still didn’t answer to his—” Taret silenced and looked over Brenok’s shoulder at Albek. “Medic Albek?”

“That’s me,” the newcomer confirmed.

“Please come in,” Taret invited Albek, while Brenok turned to look at the medic. “I’m afraid I still didn’t take my things from your office.”

“Don’t worry about it,” Albek smiled. “I came to take a look at the infirmary, not to take over,” he winked.

“By all means,” Taret waved his hand around, inviting Albek. “This is going to be your reign soon.”

“Do you mind if I look around?”

“Not at all.”

Albek left both men to talk about their common acquaintance and entered the corridor to the surgery chamber. He felt like a little boy on his first day at school.



“Gul Brenok, would you mind to talk for a moment?” Ronus asked the gul, entering his office aboard the Damar.

“Not at all,” Brenok put away a padd that he kept in his hand and gestured to the guest chair on the other side of his desk. “How can I help you?”

Ronus sat. “It is about the communication. As I understand it from the files I had received, we can freely contact our superiors.” Brenok didn’t know details, it was Jarol’s part of the job, but before he said anything, Ronus continued. “However, to contact someone privately, we’d have to apply for a permission, which could be refused if an insufficient reason would be presented, and, if granted, that conversation would be then recorded.”

“That is a standard procedure, yes.”

“Brenok,” Ronus leaned forward. “T’Sarik contacts her family on Rigel V every evening. She can’t be with them personally, so she tries to talk to them every day. I like to talk to my brother often. Av’Roo also has family and friends. Frankly, we don’t like the idea to be cut off from them. We are not in jail. We are not some kind of criminals to restrict our access to the outer world. To our world.”

“This law is there for security reasons and applies to everyone within the Cardassian Union.”

“That may be. And I know we are within the Cardassian territory when aboard the station, but an average Cardassian doesn’t have a family in the Federation. We do. We are not your citizens.”

“I understand your position, Ronus. Did you talk to Legate Jarol?”

“I did. She said that was the law.”

Brenok thought for a moment. “I will order her to make an exception for you but you have to promise that neither you nor your officers would abuse that exception and use it only to contact your family and friends on private matters.”

“Absolutely! For official business we have official channels.”

“All right. Consider it done.”

“Thank you,” Ronus smiled. “I have one more question, though. Not so official.”

“Yes?”

“Why everyone calls Jarol a ‘legate’? Isn’t she a gul only?”

“Because she had been a legate for twenty years. This is courtesy to acknowledge her service to the Union and...not to make her feel demoted. She would hate the ‘only’ word that you had just used.”

“I never heard of this before.”

“That’s because before there were no former legates. The function used to be held for life. Even now we have a handful of former legates. Four, including her, to be exact.”

“Why did she step down?”

“She felt her work was done and someone else should take over.”

“Why was she chosen to command this station?”

“She wanted it. The station itself was her idea, she negotiated a treaty with you to make it possible to build it here and, finally, she is a tactician. This is the perfect assignment for her.”

Ronus didn’t say anything.

“She terrifies you,” Brenok smiled. It wasn’t a mocking smile but a friendly one.

“She does,” Ronus admitted. “She’s just...”

“Try not to think about her attitude. Just be professional.”

“Easy to say.” Ronus stared at the desk between them for a moment. “How long do you know her?”

“Half of my life.”

The Trill gazed at the gul for another moment and then rose. “I won’t take more of your time, I’m sure you’re a busy man. Thank you for your help, Brenok.”

“My pleasure,” the Cardassian smiled and the captain left his office.



Borad entered Jarol’s office with a stocky man behind him. The man had very short—for a Cardassian—and very dishevelled—for any species—greying hair and he rocked on his feet as he stood in the doorway with a wide smile on his face.

“Legate, Medic Albek would like to report his presence on the station,” the glinn said.

“Let him in,” she said raising from her chair. Borad bowed slightly and then left her office, while Albek entered and stood in front of her desk.

“Legate Jarol, it is an honour to serve on your station,” the medic said in Western Nokarian language, surprising Jarol. While she spoke a different dialect, she could still perfectly understand him.

“I have read in your profile that you have volunteered for this position,” she said, smiling.

“I am very happy that you have accepted my candidature,” his smile, unbelievably, became even wider.

“You seemed to be the right person and your qualifications are sufficient.” She wondered if she should warn him that he’d might have to share his duties with Taret. The medic still didn’t give her his answer but it would be better if Albek learnt that from her than from him. “There is one thing I’d like to talk to you about,” she said, pointing to one of guest chairs.

He sat. “What is it?”

“Have you met Medic Taret yet?”

“I have. I have already visited the infirmary.”

“I have asked Medic Taret to stay.”

Albek frowned. “Does it mean my position is taken and I am sent back home?”

“No, not at all. You are still the chief medic.” Albek’s frown dissolved but his smile didn’t return. “I want him to stay as his skills could come in handy. This is a big station and two good medics would not be too many.”

Albek’s smile was back on his face. “I see. However, he did not seem like someone who’s staying.”

“I still wait for his decision,” she sat too.

“I see. Will our duties be somehow separated?”

“Yes. He is going to be more of a general physician. I have a preliminary regulations prepared but will present it to both of you—or not, depending on what he decides—when he makes his decision.”

“Understood.”

“Any questions?”

“Not of medical or duty nature,” he shook his head.

“Any other questions?” she asked.

“Not for today,” he smiled.

She observed him for a while and then said, “If it’s all for today, you can use the rest of the day to familiarise yourself with the station and its crew. You start tomorrow.”

“Yes, Legate,” he rose, nodded once and left her office.

She let herself a small grin after he left. The grin was still on her face when Brenok entered the room.

“What can I do for you?” she asked him.

“You talked to Albek? His Unionese is worse than yours,” Brenok smiled. There was no malice in his voice, though.

“I wouldn’t know, we talked in Nokarian,” she showed all her teeth in a smile.

“You have a fan, no doubt about that,” the gul returned the smile. “But I didn’t come to have a chat.”

“So what brings you to me?”

“You will allow the Federation representatives a free, unobstructed contact with their territory,” Brenok said.

“Excuse me?” Jarol rose from her chair and looked at him. He was taller but she made an impression of towering over him. With her personality.

“You heard me.” Brenok was not intimidated in the least.

“Those restrictions are there for a reason. They are for our safety. I can’t just—”

“You will not apply those restrictions to them,” Brenok said firmly.

“Yes, I will,” she barked back, putting her hands on her hips and looked at him defiantly.

“From now on, the Federation members are exempted from the restrictions,” Brenok repeated.

“No, they are not.”

“You misunderstand me,” his voice became slightly lower. “This is not a request, this is an order.”

“No, they are not,” she repeated in a stronger voice.

Gul Jarol, you will remove all restrictions from the Federation citizens,” Brenok said in a commanding voice she had never heard before. “Is that understood?”

“You’re pulling a rank?” she stared at him, astonished.

“Is that understood?!” He didn’t raise his voice but there was some strength in it that demanded to be obeyed.

“Yes, sir, it is understood. I would like that order in writing, sir.”

“You will get it.”

“I’d also like to inform you that I will protest that order to the Central Command, sir.”

“That is your right, Gul,” he growled and left her office without one more glance at her.

She stared at the door, not believing she had been a part of the scene that just happened a moment ago. “I created a monster,” she whispered to herself. Where was that young, sweet, singing boy she had met at that table in the mess hall on the Groumall?

All her life she outranked Brenok, all her life he was following her orders and he hardly ever disagreed with her. He never opposed her. He never refused to follow her order. Was it because he agreed or because he knew he had to obey? She had a feeling she was to find out very soon how often their opinions were not alike.

She sat in her chair and replayed the scene in her head again. And she knew: that young, sweet, singing boy happened twenty-five years ago. This man was the Highest Commander of the Cardassian Guard and this title wasn’t an empty line to go in front of his rank. He was the highest authority and he acted like one.

She was angry, she was furious but simultaneously she was so proud. His orders were so wrong and their consequences could be disastrous, but at the same time she had to admire that conduct of a real gul she had never had a chance to see before.
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"Reagan, it appears, is really only an ardent unionist if the unions in question are in Poland" - Stephen King, Skeleton Crew
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