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Old July 13 2011, 06:21 AM   #661
Nerys Ghemor
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Re: Star Trek: Sigils and Unions--The Thirteenth Order

I know this is a short section, but the other half of this chapter will be a longer one and I thought I'd at least whet your appetites.

-------------------

The Laghur-class fast-attack ship swelled onscreen. Too much or too little thrust from either vessel or thrust in the wrong direction—and they were done. Any attempt to coordinate, any signal, and the game was up: the Jem’Hadar would detect that far more surely than they would the tiny, chemical rockets that constituted a Gălor-class vessel’s maneuvering thrusters. But even that…even that…it wasn’t natural…

“Vent a cargo bay!” Spirodopoulos shouted as if moved by a sudden wind. “Or any section that you can—if—”

Berat’s eyes went wide. He didn’t wait for the terhăn to finish his explanation. “Do it—Yejain!”

The glinn tapped at his console. “Ventral bay venting now!”

The Sherouk pitched up—relative to its orientation that moment, looking like a manta ray trying to stand on its tail. The Turrel hurtled past—mere kilometers past, from the looks of it…but it cleared.

“Trajectories of all other ships stable,” Dalin Rota reported. “Two more charges have detonated in the nebula since we drifted past the flux boundary.” Excellent! Berat cheered. If they’re still wasting ammunition on stellar gases, then it’s rather unlikely their sensors can tell us from the remains of a planetary fragment.

“Maintain silent running,” Berat said, “for fifteen minutes after the Jem’Hadar depart our sensor range.” He resisted a feral grin at that. The Dominion had thought they were giving their Cardassian lackeys a few harmless ‘toys’ to play with, by upgrading the sensors and transporters of the twenty Gă’ălour…but all they had proven in the end was that the Vorta were shortsighted in more ways than one. Any technology from the enemy constituted an inherent tactical advantage, however seemingly insignificant. And here on the Sherouk with minds like Onay Motreln and Yal Mirok on board? And the rest of this crew? Even dumber.

Berat turned. “Commander…” What he wanted to say was, Thank you for your trust. But so soon after that tense discussion in the mess hall, he wasn’t so sure about drawing attention to the fact that the Federation commander had just shared information—however insignificant—about Starfleet readiness and procedures. “Thank you for your quick thinking.”

“I’ll be a little happier once the Jem’Hadar are off of our doorstep,” Spirodopoulos replied, “but you’re welcome.” He spoke through the translator for the moment—probably best for now, while we still have to concern ourselves with potential battle, Berat thought, but there was something about that subtle dip of the head that accompanied Spirodopoulos’ statement. It was a dissonance allayed: though still tinged with that terhăn strangeness, it was almost the move one of his own species would have used. The Cardassian commander smiled, reciprocating Spirodopoulos’ nod.

Dalin Rota reported, “They just went to warp, heading away from the nebula! At current speed and heading, they should be out of sensor range in another twenty minutes.” And us, potentially, from them, Berat translated; they did have the same sensors, after all—or so that Vorta had said.

“Continue monitoring.” No one spoke aloud—only the faint sounds of the computer, and the shifting energy fields of the plasma conduits running near the bridge betrayed a sense of life and activity to Berat.

Spirodopoulos observed at the tactical station, which had been Gul Macet’s suggestion. Macet had been duly impressed by the terhăn’s ability to grasp enough of the Zerayd’s firing controls at Lessek that with minimal instruction he could actually get a shot off without hesitation. Even with the gul doing the aiming, that was quite the accomplishment considering he was dealing with a foreign interface and, though Spirodopoulos tried valiantly to hide it, he was still functionally illiterate in the Cardăsda language.

Just barely out of Rota’s line of sight, Berat caught a glimpse of Spirodopoulos mouthing some of the words on the readouts to himself in hopes of stitching them together into something he recognized. Berat busied himself with the readouts on the main screen—better for the lieutenant commander’s concentration…and his pride…that he think himself unobserved.

After the first minute turned into nine, then ten, he finally started allowing himself to entertain the thought that maybe they’d actually succeeded. Berat aimed his attention towards his chief investigative officer. “Mirok, while we have a moment to breathe …coordinate with Dr. Hetalc to determine if Riyăk Iymender is in sufficient condition. If he is, route any Dominion communications we’ve intercepted from those ships to him, along with the work you’ve been doing on their viewing device. Once he’s up and around, I’ll be formally assigning him to work with you on signal decryption and some other projects.” Reverse-engineering of Dominion technology, Berat added to himself. If Spirodopoulos was this distrusting, still…how would he handle the knowledge that even these Cardassians intended to find out what made it work? And whenever they returned him, just what would the Federation think of that? “But for now…I think it may be therapeutic to give him a bit of an ‘appetizer.’”

The science expert switched on a positively conspiratorial smile. She certainly knows the type! “Understood, Gul.”

Glinn Yejain caught Berat’s eye then. “Might I have a word with you, Gul?”

“Granted.”

“I believe he should join us,” Yejain added, sweeping a hand towards Spirodopoulos.

Berat assented. “Then we will confer in my office. Dalin Rota—the watch is yours for now. Alert me at once if the Jem’Hadar make even the slightestchange of course, regardless of type.” That said, it was understood that Rota would still defer to Glinn Motreln on any matters pertaining to the ship’s internal operations—she did outrank the tactical officer, after all.

With his eyes, Berat indicated the office and waited until he stood shoulder-to-shoulder with the terhăn to ascend the steps.
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Old July 13 2011, 10:02 AM   #662
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Re: Star Trek: Sigils and Unions--The Thirteenth Order

Hmmm, safe for now, then (or so it appears). I wonder what they'll find in any stash of Dominion communications...

Good old Berat. Again, I like how he melds obvious authority with a more personally-inviting style of leadership than we usually see. The atmosphere on his command deck is always interesting, for how it resembles and differs from the other Cardassians we've met (and of course since your last piece I've had Berat forefront in my mind again). And having a Human in the mix complicates it - I trust Berat's gesture will be taken as I'm assuming its intended, to note Spirodopoulous as part of the team and to acknowledge his just having saved the ship, rather than pointing to a strictly business partnership? The crew seem to be on his wavelength, anyway.

I'm very much looking forward to the next half.
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Old July 13 2011, 01:55 PM   #663
Gul Re'jal
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Re: Star Trek: Sigils and Unions--The Thirteenth Order

Berat still has very fresh memory of the conversation about trust and it seems to bother him, since he is so conscious of it and chooses his words carefully.
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Old July 13 2011, 05:14 PM   #664
Nerys Ghemor
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Re: Star Trek: Sigils and Unions--The Thirteenth Order

Deranged Nasat wrote: View Post
Hmmm, safe for now, then (or so it appears). I wonder what they'll find in any stash of Dominion communications...
Well, we'll have to see what if anything they are able to intercept.

Good old Berat. Again, I like how he melds obvious authority with a more personally-inviting style of leadership than we usually see. The atmosphere on his command deck is always interesting, for how it resembles and differs from the other Cardassians we've met (and of course since your last piece I've had Berat forefront in my mind again).
I hope it's still convincingly Cardassian, even though he's "relaxed" in certain ways.

But I tend to see personal connections as very important to Berat, yes. Knowing his people as individuals, what makes them tick, and respecting that.

And having a Human in the mix complicates it - I trust Berat's gesture will be taken as I'm assuming its intended, to note Spirodopoulous as part of the team and to acknowledge his just having saved the ship, rather than pointing to a strictly business partnership? The crew seem to be on his wavelength, anyway.
Well, we'll have to see how that goes!

I'm very much looking forward to the next half.
Thanks!

Gul Re'jal wrote: View Post
Berat still has very fresh memory of the conversation about trust and it seems to bother him, since he is so conscious of it and chooses his words carefully.
Yes, I would say that really bothered him. I know that he himself is often deeply torn between trust and distrust--but in this case, they have shed blood and mourned their losses together. That's a big line to cross, yet still show distrust.
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Old July 13 2011, 06:46 PM   #665
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Re: Star Trek: Sigils and Unions--The Thirteenth Order

Still good, still engaging--I am looking forward to what you'll cook up next, Nerys!

It's funny...I think you yourself once noted that you could easily see Sam Bowers (Ezri's first officer on the Aventine) serving on a Cardassian vessel in an exchange program. (Germ of a story for me, BTW. Stay tuned....)

Sam is very ordered, and he constantly emphasizes order and discipline, while Ezri promotes a more (to borrow Nasat's term) "personally-inviting" style. Thus, I can easily see kindred spirits between, say Bowers and Macet on the one hand, and Dax and Berat on the other.

Just my $0.02.
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Old July 13 2011, 11:20 PM   #666
Nerys Ghemor
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Re: Star Trek: Sigils and Unions--The Thirteenth Order

Sam might get along well with Glinn Yejain, then. (Berat's first officer.) I think that Berat probably isn't quite like Ezri in his command style--the "Cardassianism" is still there, but expressed differently.

But I could see Macet getting along very well with someone like Bowers, too.

Thanks for reading!
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Old August 31 2011, 06:21 AM   #667
Nerys Ghemor
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Re: Star Trek: Sigils and Unions--The Thirteenth Order

OK...as promised, here's a much longer section, to conclude Chapter 19.

---------------

Glinn Yejain followed his commanding officer, simultaneously keeping a close eye on Spirodopoulos. The Starfleet officer gave no sign of concern at having the wiry executive officer at his back…nothing to indicate that he’d realized the speed and depth of martial arts skill Yejain could wield at a moment’s notice if given any reason to believe Spirodopoulos posed a threat to Berat.

That was one of the things that had made him deeply skeptical of dealing with the Vedrayçda: they didn’t think like that in their society, they had neither instinct nor the training to look beyond surface pleasantries. They had even handed their own worlds over to the Union as a ‘solution’ to a border war that—at least to that point—had never even threatened their core worlds. Did they care that they had only shown Central Command weakness? How could they ever understand what it meant to navigate a world that could never be distilled neatly into their simplistic paradigms, where tough decisions had to be made and blood sometimes had to be spilled?

And the terhăn-çăs—their reputation was that of one of the most volatile species of all. Not in the sense of a race like the klin’ça-çăs, whose ancient and belligerent culture made them predictable, simple to manipulate, and quite restricted, in most cases, in the innovativeness of their tactics…emotionally, the people of Terhăn Terăm were much more like Cardassians than that. But they were inherently chaotic, unpredictable in other ways…one never knew when they would fight, when they would surrender, when they would hold to their rules, and when they would throw them to the wind. Perhaps it was a product of their short lifespans, which even the best of their medical science could do only so much for.

That chaotic nature, coupled with their naiveté, had led Yejain to caution Berat against joining a rebellion intended to include them. But Spirodopoulos…he wasn’t quite what Yejain had expected. It wasn’t just the Cardassian armor he now wore, or even his efforts to speak their language…it was something about the words he spoke, the way he carried himself, that didn’t seem quite as alien as everything he knew had led him to believe.

Yejain’s eyes focused now on Berat. Even now, folded behind his back, the tremors in his hands were unmistakable—though to Yejain, it read as little more than a heightened state of readiness. Unlike the rest of the Sherouk’s senior officers, he had never known Gul Berat before the assassination attempt, nor even heard his name until the Maciy attack and Legate Ghemor’s intervention to save Berat’s life and his command. Someone, disgusted by this intervention to save a defeated ‘cripple,’ had finally talked—finally said something, however insignificant, that the Obsidian Order could use to move on the legate, whose position otherwise would have protected him. Yejain had tried to warn Ghemor of the personal risks he would incur by sparing Berat from the execution he should have faced for his defiance…however good of an officer he might have been…but the legate had refused to listen.

And when he had first heard that he, Bresul Yejain, was to become the first officer of the Sherouk and aide to its peculiar gul, he had felt…betrayed, almost. True, a shipboard position was more prestigious in some ways, more conducive for career advancement—but Yejain didn’t think like that most of the time. Why, at a time when Legate Ghemor needed the protection he could offer as a member of Central Command’s clandestine intelligence corps more than ever, would he send him away?

Central Command—however wrongheaded they could be sometimes…they could at least be understood. First came an action, then a rule, then a prescribed consequence, all of it clear to the naked eye. For the Obsidian Order…causality had a tendency to be rather warped. Seditious tendencies, treacherous intentions, religious feelings, political necessities, all of these were enough for the Obsidian Order to move, before the object of their attentions could even consider committing a crime.

In more capable hands, Central Command could do Cardassia proud. The Obsidian Order—they were corrupt to the core. To serve was prime—yet service without sense in it was meaningless…a farce. Ghemor understood that too, in his own way, and ever so carefully, he had brought the operative to the same understanding: that something crucial had to change.

The Obsidian Order may have feared no one, but Yejain held no delusions that they had not discovered exactly who and what he was, and that they did not at least consider the additional obstacle one such as him might put in the way of any of their plans to take down Legate Ghemor.

Then again…Ghemor had likely understood all of the risks—and done it all anyway.

And set Yejain at a remove from him before the inevitable fall from grace. For something had changed during his three-year tenure at Central Command: the glinn had married. He had a wife and a family now. It was dangerous enough for them all for him to belong to the Obsidian Order’s direct rival…far more so to be affiliated with them and a dissident legate at the moment of said legate’s arrest.

Once Yejain had assumed his post aboard the Sherouk, he’d come to understand Ghemor’s sacrifice. And once he’d gotten to know the man Ghemor had chosen him to serve under, he understood that as well, far more than just the hints he’d had before: what Berat’s physical disabilities hid in the eyes of most was a just commander of a sort that the Cardassian Guard could use far more of. Berat, like Ghemor before him, could be trusted. And that, for a man who responded as strongly to the hierarchical instinct as Yejain did, meant everything. And especially after Ghemor’s exile, which came exactly as Yejain had predicted, and his untimely death…Yejain needed that trustworthiness.

Glinn Yejain remained standing until Berat came around his desk and sat, hands folded away out of sight—something Berat would not have felt necessary with just the two of them alone. Then Yejain sat. Spirodopoulos followed the glinn’s lead and took the other chair. Yejain cautioned himself not to read this late move as deference…simply a species difference. That, Yejain supposed, and the fact that he’s having to adjust to his position as well as to this culture. Though age was difficult to tell on certain mammalians given the effect sunlight had on their skins, Spirodopoulos looked as though he were closer to Yejain’s age than Berat’s. Yet on a terhăn…they looked so much like Bajorans yet aged more quickly. Most likely the man was younger than he appeared.

As soon as the door shut behind them, Berat allowed himself to lean back a bit. “There was something you wanted to discuss?”

“Yes, Gul. I realize our connection to the Guard is tenuous right now…but I submit that Rebek will still want an incident report from us about that near miss we just had with the Turrel.” And of course from Dalin Ostevor as well—the ship’s acting commander, and Gul Rebek’s subordinate. Yejain felt a bit sorry for Ostevor; much like Spirodopoulos, he too was learning his position. A subtle, sympathetic grin crossed Berat’s face…he must have thought the same thing.

“And Commander,” he added with a nod at Spirodopoulos, “I…encourage your assessment as well.” It sounded like Berat had almost required it—but reconsidered his wording. Though Spirodopoulos might hold a position something like a dalin at home, neither he nor the gul dared leave no doubt of the extensive scope and nature of this man’s authority in the Thirteenth Order. “Especially since your idea was so integral to the solution.”

Spirodopoulos gave an ironic laugh. “No good deed goes unpunished, I suppose.”

“What?” Berat sat up stiffly. “That was a compliment, not a rebuke—”

The terhăn’s bioelectric field surged and Yejain’s head whipped around; the mammalian’s heart beat so quickly that at first Yejain had mistaken it for outright panic. And I did not improve matters with that gesture, Yejain observed. I shall have to “recalibrate” my krilătbre-yezul to account for our differences.

“Oh, no, no—I’m sorry, Gul, Glinn…I never intended for it to come across that way.” Spirodopoulos held up his hands in a placating gesture. “It’s a human saying…at least it was human—now you hear it all over Starfleet. Sometimes people mean it snidely, but sometimes it’s just a joke. Especially when it comes to paperwork.”

Berat digested the information. “I think I see now.” He leaned back in his chair, glancing slyly at Glinn Yejain.

At that, the Starfleet officer allowed himself a bit of a smile. “In all seriousness, though…I have to admit I’m a little surprised we’re taking the time out of a rebellion for bureaucratic stuff. It’s not like we have admirals and thă’ăkliv to answer to.” Yejain blinked: there was a reason Federation Standard had named the rank ‘legate’ rather than actually trying to pronounce it. But that hadn’t stopped Spirodopoulos from trying.

What he’d said, though, had been more surprising. Just how lax was Starfleet? Then again, if he was just a dalin at home— “Commander,” Yejain asked, “if I may, what is the largest number of people you’ve had under your direct command?” Spirodopoulos hesitated. Of course…he thinks I would infer the force strength of his last posting from his answer. “It’s not necessary to say where or when.”

“This is it,” he admitted.

“I see. If the three of us—” Yejain touched the diamond on his cuirass and circled his index finger between them. “—were operating as our own resistance cell, I would agree.” Or a cadre of operatives against the Obsidian Order, he added silently. “Even in your previous commands it may have been possible to gain a good idea of what was going on simply through your...loutenentz? Levtenentz? How do you get this sound…” Yejain struggled, making a sound that resembled ‘hv’ in place of the Vedrayçdaf.’ “…from a spelling that has no such letter?”
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Old August 31 2011, 06:21 AM   #668
Nerys Ghemor
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Re: Star Trek: Sigils and Unions--The Thirteenth Order

Spirodopoulos’ eyes went wide. Then he let out a bellowing laugh, doubling over to where his cuirass squeaked audibly with every paroxysm, as it folded.

Now it was Yejain’s turn to raise an eye ridge at the terhăn commander. “Have I said something vulgar?”

“Hardly, Glinn!” Spirodopoulos forced out between laughs. “It’s just that most Federation-Standard speakers have no idea...but it's actually the influence of my native language.”

“Cardăsda is the native language of every Cardassian,” Yejain said. “It must be confusing with so many different languages.”

“Not really,” he said. “We do all have a common language that we speak when we deal with people not from our homelands. But we have more than one accepted dialect. Your dictionary was giving you pronunciations from the two most common ones. Because of where my grandparents are from, I learned a different dialect than most people did in Griys.” Yejain took this to mean the region on Earth where Spirodopoulos was born. “And I ended up saying something other than leftenant, even though most everyone else from my part of the world says it that way. Even though it would otherwise be really tempting for me as a Griyk-speaker.”

Yejain made a thoughtful noise. “Bayhokrol edek,” he mused. I might understand. Truth be told, he wasn’t sure exactly how the terhăn-çăs coped if even their standard language had such great variation. But there would be time to find out more about that later. “But back to the point—we are not a small cell of terrorists.” The glinn’s lip curled ever so slightly at the word. “We are still a force of over 1500 soldiers, yourselves included. Sound logistics for a group that size…even within your contingent…requires that formal order and discipline must be maintained. After all, we can’t administer it to all face-to-face. We have certainly seen you do that,” Yejain added when he noticed Spirodopoulos’ face growing harder and harder to read, “but this is part of it too.”

“What happened with the Turrel is something that should be studied,” Gul Berat added. “We escaped damage—a greater failure—but that’s no reason not to fully investigate the lesser failures that led up to it. And of course, the good choices that were made.” Now he’s getting into it! Yejain grinned inwardly—though he never showed a bit of it on his face. Berat was as precise as any Cardassian…when he wanted to be…but the mental energy to attend to some of the more administrative tasks of command came to him in bursts, and occasionally he needed a little respectful prodding. Now that Berat was framing it in terms of an engineering failure investigation, Yejain knew he had him hooked. “Will you help us, Commander?”

Ve’,” Spirodopoulos answered in Cardăsda, “Lourol ça’adav edek. Ge’…yokov nithur hec ci’irdas edikouv edek.”
Yejain lifted an eye ridge. He had understood, I will help you. The man’s accent wasn’t bad—and now that he knew Spirodopoulos had grown up with two languages, he supposed that lent a bit of extra flexibility to his tongue. But what did the terhăn mean by ‘need with time my people’? Then it dawned on him. “Not bad! But I believe you mean ‘nithur ci’irdas-hec çadou.’”

Comprehending now, Gul Berat interjected: “You will still have time with your people. You don’t think we would do that to you, do you?” Berat’s lips smiled and his eyes tried to as well, but his voice could not. Yejain’s first instinct was to suspect the pain was particularly bad in that moment. But this didn’t look like that kind of pain, the internal electrocution that at its worst would likely paralyze a lesser man. Something’s eating at him, Yejain thought.

Spirodopoulos folded his hands, straightened decisively, and met eyes with Gul Berat. “No, I do not.”

“Then the pertinent parts of our database will be opened to you,” Berat said. “We will reconvene on conference at the end of your next shift. And Commander…you’ll find that other materials have been made available to you as well. That includes continuing language lessons you can access.

“There’s just one thing about those lessons I should caution you about.” Berat broke eye contact—a clear Cardassian sign of shame, though Yejain would have to make sure to warn Berat of what his counterpart aboard the Trager had told him about the way some terhăn-çăs interpreted that signal. “They were initially uploaded to the Sherouk database to give the colonists on Volan III. They were intended not just to teach the language, but what their place was supposed to be in the Cardassian Union.”

“You mean indoctrination,” Spirodopoulos muttered.

Berat acknowledged with a thoughtful cant of the head. “I suppose that’s a fitting word. I would suggest using the basic material that’s available to get familiar with our writing system…but you might prefer more practical texts to test your skills, and actual dialogues with members of our crew.”

More practical, yes, but more importantly, less offensive
, Yejain silently added. The former Federation citizens had been in dire need of an education on how to function as productive parts of the Cardassian Union, judging from their atrocious behavior—then again as Gul Berat had reminded his co-conspirators, those colonists had been sold by their own people, violently uprooted from the hierarchy into which they had been born. While it didn’t justify the terrorism, it certainly explained the hostility.

“I guess that would be wise,” the terhăn answered. “I’ll be sure to warn anyone else who takes those courses. Have you already opened that part of the database for all of my people?”

“We will as soon as we’re clear to signal the other ships,” Berat said.

“Then I’ll communicate that to my lieutenants at that point as well. I will be transporting to the Turrel at that time as well.”

Yejain nodded—best for Spirodopoulos to show his sigil after what had transpired. “I will show you the way.” Despite having spent a few days aboard the Gălor-class ships, many of the Star’hvliyt-çăs had yet to learn their way around their ships. Glinn Yejain couldn’t imagine functioning with such a limited memory capacity…yet one thing that had to be said for the terhăn-çăs, and by extension the Federation, was that they advanced rapidly in many fields nonetheless.

I’m not sure whether it’s actually a matter of their mental capacity or their training, Daro had said when Yejain asked him about it back on Lessek. Either way, the fact stands that their culture accommodates their abilities. One thing you’ll notice about dealing with them is that they have a tremendous capacity for finding information, and synthesizing it into the form they want. They don’t always remember things so much as they remember the process of getting to them. Maybe it’s a skill they have because with enough time, the very same person can look at the same object with almost ‘new eyes.’

Yejain had accepted the explanation and did his best to see this man according to his people’s standards, not those of a Cardassian. It wasn’t easy, especially with his supplementary training, but no less would suffice here.

As Spirodopoulos rose to leave, his wristcomm chirped, and after a second’s hesitation, he tapped it on. “Commander.” It was Dalin Rota.“Communications have been restored, and I have a signal from the Trager addressed to your urgent attention.

He glanced at the Cardassians in the room—then nodded. “Put it through.”

The gravelly yet oddly youthful voice on the other end belonged to the Trager’s chief medical officer, Istep. There was no cheer in that voice now, though. The computer’s audio pickups were boosting the volume on a voice hardly louder than a whisper. “One of your people was in an accident trying to repair a conduit. She survived the shock, she’s conscious and should make a full recovery, but she seems to have taken my attempt to examine her as some kind of…” Istep hissed the next words. “Some kind of thrice-burned attempt at assault! She needs treatment, but I cannot reason with this woman! Her remarks border on a death threat, Commander…please, I need you to come down here and get her to calm down so I can help her.”

So that’s how low we have fallen
, Yejain thought bitterly. He knew Istep by reputation—and there was no way, no way Istep would ever do anything even remotely that degrading. But that was what the aliens assumed. Yejain studied Spirodopoulos—Berat too.

His face was stone, but his green eyes smoldered. “I’m on my way. Gul—you’ll have to excuse me.”

“Of course,” said Berat with a curt nod. “Go—I will notify the transporter room.” But before he could leave, he caught the lieutenant commander’s eyes. “It’s a misunderstanding,” he declared. “I am sure of it.” Then Yejain knew. He still mistrusts! All of this—and he still cannot recognize who we are!

Those test results on the Trager’s battle wounds could not come soon enough. And even if they did, would they stop Spirodopoulos from swinging back and forth from faith to disbelief? If he didn’t commit to a path soon, then the outburst from Istep’s patient would only be the beginning. First Starfleet—and then discontent among his own people as well. Glinn Yejain knew then that his next stop would be to his own ship’s sickbay, to speak with the convalescing Iymender, and then a call to Glinn Va’Kust: for now, all he could do was research the dossiers of the men and women they had brought with them from Lessek. They might not have the full power of Central Command’s database with them—and even then the database might not be safe to search in certain ways if any Dominion or old Obsidian Order failsafes still hadn’t been deprogrammed—but Yejain had made do with such limitations for his entire career. He would know the signs when he saw them.

The Obsidian Order is dead—but if their descendants have followed us into space, Yejain fretted, and they see even the slightest signs of weakness or failure, they will strike. They may be going along with it now because we oppose the ones who crippled their power base, but that won’t last if Spirodopoulos breaks. He has no idea what sort of flood he is holding back.
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Old August 31 2011, 02:23 PM   #669
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Re: Star Trek: Sigils and Unions--The Thirteenth Order

Its alive!

Lovely comparison between humanity and our Cardassian brothers from another mother, especially that little detail about the eyes. To look downwards is a sign of shame for Cardassians who actually seem quite direct in their body language (ironic when one considers their reputation), whereas for Humans it is a sign of dishonesty. Both negative preconceptions but for different reasons.

A brilliant touch in an excellent story.

I also like the rather sinister hint at the end that the foul serpent that has corrupted Cardassia may yet still live...

(Am I right in thinking that in the 24th century the British diction has taken over European English?)
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Old August 31 2011, 03:51 PM   #670
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Re: Star Trek: Sigils and Unions--The Thirteenth Order

An interesting look into Yejain's thoughts. Some images from the past and the time of his work for Legate Ghemor. Some thoughts about the Federation. But what I found interesting is that Yejain isn't fully on any side of the fence: he criticises and at the same time he is able to appreciate the same phenomenon, just different features of it. He can see positive and negative things in Cardassia, in the Federation, in the former Federation colonies. He seems to be a man who thinks a lot about many things and doesn't feel like he has to make any ultimate decisions and form opinions of those things. He allows himself to doubt, to keep thinking and simply not having one, stable opinion if something is black or white. He doesn't even force himself to settle for grey. He prefers to analyse details than to judge them.
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Old August 31 2011, 05:08 PM   #671
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Re: Star Trek: Sigils and Unions--The Thirteenth Order

Thor Damar wrote: View Post
Its alive!

Lovely comparison between humanity and our Cardassian brothers from another mother, especially that little detail about the eyes. To look downwards is a sign of shame for Cardassians who actually seem quite direct in their body language (ironic when one considers their reputation), whereas for Humans it is a sign of dishonesty. Both negative preconceptions but for different reasons.
Well...a Cardassian who averts his eyes out of shame or submission won't necessarily be judged poorly, the way one would be judged for showing signs of dishonesty.

In a lot of ways, I would describe it as a submissive gesture. I tend to write my Cardassians as having almost "canine" social instincts, and if you've ever seen what happens when a dog misbehaves or when the alpha wolf chastises a member of its pack, the offending animal looks away as a sign of submission.

My Cardassians have the same instinct; looking away is an instinctive way to reduce the appearance of aggression, so when they're ashamed of something, or they've been caught misbehaving, the proper response is to avoid eye contact.

Which can lead to a misunderstanding because that means that if a Cardassian is telling the truth but is ashamed of that truth, he or she often will not look you in the eye. He or she is instinctively doing that to try to avoid stoking your ire. To a Cardassian, something said with averted eyes does not come off as harshly as something said with full eye contact.

That said--despite their deeply ingrained instincts, which I write as being more powerful than human hierarchical and social instincts, some Cardassians are consummate liars and manipulators who are able to control these signs at will. They are, after all, sentient beings, not insects or Borg.

I also like the rather sinister hint at the end that the foul serpent that has corrupted Cardassia may yet still live...
I can't imagine that every agent, or every person who thinks like one of them, was eliminated in the Battle of the Omarion Nebula.

(Am I right in thinking that in the 24th century the British diction has taken over European English?)
I'd thought that while the influence of American media in Europe was widespread, that the British accent was what most Europeans studied now in school and what was considered most "proper" there, unless they happened to get a teacher from the US or Canada.

Gul Re'jal wrote: View Post
An interesting look into Yejain's thoughts. Some images from the past and the time of his work for Legate Ghemor. Some thoughts about the Federation. But what I found interesting is that Yejain isn't fully on any side of the fence: he criticises and at the same time he is able to appreciate the same phenomenon, just different features of it. He can see positive and negative things in Cardassia, in the Federation, in the former Federation colonies. He seems to be a man who thinks a lot about many things and doesn't feel like he has to make any ultimate decisions and form opinions of those things. He allows himself to doubt, to keep thinking and simply not having one, stable opinion if something is black or white. He doesn't even force himself to settle for grey. He prefers to analyse details than to judge them.
While I had not thought of the character in quite those terms, I think you're right. Yejain is an analyst, above all, very pragmatic and a man of facts. If you introduce new data to him, his perceptions will shift. That doesn't mean he doesn't have opinions; I know that he has a core of principles that led him to oppose the Obsidian Order and that ultimately led him to agree with Berat about the need to rebel. That's the key distinction that separates him from someone like Garak. Deep down, there is a clarity of right and wrong in him, but he is not a man who stops at first impressions. He wants to investigate something from all sides and make sure he really knows what he's talking about.

Part of it was even the fact that the Obsidian Order failed to follow any sort of sensible logic or reasonable correlation of behavior to consequence. He could tell they weren't a reasonable internal security force, but a menace.
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Old September 1 2011, 07:57 PM   #672
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Re: Star Trek: Sigils and Unions--The Thirteenth Order

Thanks for the wonderful additions! The subtleties of Cardassian culture - particulalry in relation to hierarchy feel distinctly Asian to me. (Your other supplementary put me in mind of the memoirs I've read of survivors of China's revolution and the way the political bodies were trying to reconcile age-old traditon with new millenium efficacy. A sometimes disastrous social experiment - e.g., The Great Leap Forward.)

I espcially emjoy your use of the Cardassian language - it feels like "reading" a foreign film complete with subtitles!

Your craft is remarkable and I always look forward to reading more!
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Old September 1 2011, 09:15 PM   #673
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Re: Star Trek: Sigils and Unions--The Thirteenth Order

Thanks; glad you enjoyed it.

You could say my Cardassians had their "Great Leap Forward" when the Union was first established..but yeah, trying to undo that is hard in its own way.

While I haven't read those memoirs, I do think sometimes of Japanese culture when I write my Cardassians. Not entirely--my other big influence would have to be Russian culture.
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Old September 3 2011, 05:55 PM   #674
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Re: Star Trek: Sigils and Unions--The Thirteenth Order

Very sorry to take so long to reply, Nerys; I’ve been wanting to give a useful response, but my mind seems to have its switch in the “powered down” position at present. I very much enjoyed this, as usual, particularly its focus on Yerain’s POV, because I find him one of your most intriguing Cardassian characters. It’s very impressive how your interpretation of the race’s psychology has lent itself to truly individual characters who fit the established model while also showing some realistic and interesting variety. Yerain being situated towards one end of the spectrum, with his strong (maybe exaggerated) hierarchal instincts gives great insight into just how you imagine the Cardassian mind as alien to most humans, while keeping them unique people.

Yejain's mind is very multi-faceted and highly structured, and that complexity is captured very well in your writing. There’s a cool, methodical order in there. In some ways it seems slow, and I don't mean that in a derogatory sense, I mean he has an interestingly measured outlook. I also concur with Gul Re'jal that Yerain seems not to assume that he has to reach a judgement or conclusion right away. He makes the contemplation and the measurement itself his concern rather than push himself to a "result" too swiftly. Which isn't to say he hasn't got a purpose in mind - we can see how displeased and even truly incomprehending he is of any exercise without sense (hence his condemnation of the OO). So he certainly doesn’t make the contemplation an end in itself. But he holds the need for it to lead somewhere at bay, and allows himself to work through the problem efficiently. I'm even getting the sense that he's perhaps equivalent to some humans with autism; that is, very rigid and measured but actually in other ways highly flexible and insightful, so long as he has his framework to steady himself. It’s almost like he’s capable of seeing the “big picture” that others might miss, but through the prism of the rules and boundaries rather than thinking “outside the box” in the manner of a Human or other less rigid intellect. I think the last few paragraphs reinforce this; they make it clear that his appreciation and commitment regarding order extends beyond his own position in the scheme of things and into a strong sense of the greater community. I really appreciate that because I find it a fascinating mirror to my own sense of community which is far more chaotic. Seeing a similar appreciation grounded in a much more rigid framework is really insightful and wonderful grounds for an alien reaction that’s still familiar to me.

Another quick point: I liked his recollection of Daro's insights into Human memory and information retrieval; that was very interesting. Humans as seen through non-human eyes is often one of the harder aspects of this type of fiction to pull off, and it’s always good to see a thoughtful exercise in it.

There was also some great humour in this one; the Cardassians have met their enemy, and it is the English language. The little snafu with the "no good deed" joke was amusing too; I guess for a people as attuned to hierarchy and order as most Cardassians, "punishment" and rebuke aren't concepts to be taken lightly.

Great work as usual.
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Old September 5 2011, 07:30 AM   #675
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Re: Star Trek: Sigils and Unions--The Thirteenth Order

Eek! I don't know how I missed your comments for so long! Sorry about that...

Anyway...

You're right, to a Cardassian, Yejain's hierarchical instinct is considered particularly pronounced. Not abnormal, but certainly a distinguishing characteristic of his personality.

Illogic makes Yejain mad. (Which proves he's no Vulcan.) And that's how the Obsidian Order pushed his buttons--by failing to follow any kind of sensible order from cause to consequence. You could easily imagine Yejain as a father; I imagine he's very measured in the same way towards his children...he doesn't let them get out of line, but he makes the punishment fit the "crime" and doesn't think it's necessary to break them to make sure they learn. He would find that a punishment so far beyond the small transgressions typical children commit that it would horrify him.

It's interesting that you bring up the autism comparison...while the rigidity, by human standards, could seem to lead that way, in contrast, the hierarchical instinct strongly impacts social relationships and makes knowing the rules a bit more of an inborn thing for Cardassians than it is to humans. I actually think to a Cardassian, a human could look as if he or she were a little bit on the autism spectrum due to the failure to give some of the "right" tones, gestures, and responses according to various spoken and unspoken cues.

As to learning disabilities and even the Cardassian equivalent of autism spectrum disorders, you actually have met one Cardassian with a learning disability already, and that's Gul Berat. If you compensated for the differences in his alien psychology, Gul Berat would show clear indications of ADHD. (Did you notice Yejain trying to steer Berat's interest towards the paperwork, a bit? He knows his gul needs a little bit of encouragement for such tasks. )

About Daro, I didn't want Daro to sound bigoted or like he was looking at humans as the be-all-end-all, as someone like Picard seemed to want. So I'm glad that part came off well to you. Daro sees strengths and weaknesses in both ways, but I get the feeling that he secretly enjoys the uniqueness of all the different species he's encountering. He's an academic by nature--not quite the analyst Yejain is, not as much the need to acquire every fact so that it can be put in its proper order; I think for him, it's a quiet curiosity for the sake of it.

I am so glad the humor came across as funny! That's one of the things I feel the most self-conscious about writing, because it doesn't come naturally to me at all, and I consider it to be one of my weak areas.

But yeah...after the Obsidian Order--and also with Berat a little bit tense because of the talk in the mess hall that didn't go so well--I didn't think Berat was likely to see the humor in the "no good deed goes unpunished" saying, only the sarcasm. (Though he wasn't so tense that a solid explanation wouldn't "defuse" him.)
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