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Old December 17 2010, 09:54 AM   #196
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 - The Shadow of the Order


The Obsidian Order vessel
Argaya Sector near the Cardassian Union border
30th day of the month of Lukyut, 532, Cardassian Union Calendar



Doctor Zabar was frustrated. Not only the medical scans of Saratt were not encouraging but, as if this wasn’t enough, she had difficulties with technical information another scanner was offering her.

“Young lady!” Zabar called a Federation officer whom she was really happy to see as the woman wore gold, so must have been an engineer. Everyone else in the room was either from the Damar’s medical staff or wore blue—which meant the same for the Karamazov.

The ‘golden’ officer turned and went closer to Zabar. “I’m a Bajoran,” she said defensively.

“Does it exclude you from being a lady? Or young?” the Cardassian neurologist asked amused.

“Errr...what?”

Zabar’s eye ridges rounded, as if she expected a real answer to her question and then she asked, “What is your name, young lady?”

“Lieutenant Jeto.”

“Lieutenant? That’s an interesting name. I suppose it is as popular as ‘gul’ on Cardassia. You have no idea how many men say their name is ‘gul’ or ‘glinn’.” Jeto stared at the woman with huge eyes. Zabar smiled. “I asked about your name, not your rank.”

“It’s Jeto Letara, ma’am”. Something resembling a tiny grin played on the girl’s lips.

“A very pretty name, Jeto Letara” Zabar smiled. “Now, could you please help me? I seem to be confused by these readings.”

Jeto came closer and took a look at the scanning result the Cardassian’s padd was displaying. “Computer connections schematics,” she stated.

“Indeed. I knew you were the right person to ask. I have a hard time to find correlation between these here,” she pointed to ends of some kind of connections, “and my patients’ nervous systems.”

“I’ve been thinking about it too, ma’am,” the young Bajoran replied. “And I think that they did a sloppy work. I’m not a doctor, but I think they couldn’t separate particular nerves, so they just stuck their wires into brains with hope that it would work, if you excuse the crude metaphor.”

Zabar put a finger to her right chin ridge and rubbed it. “I didn’t think of that. I had assumed it would be impossible to regulate nerve-wire connections, but I didn’t think they’d try something so...idiotic.”

“You designed it?” Jeto asked her with horror.

“I wrote a report full of bullshit that every idiot would dismiss as impossible in reality,” Zabar’s voice was quiet and sad. “Unfortunately, Cardassia was full of people more stupid than even idiots.” Jeto’s face seemed to relax. “Dear Jeto Letara, will you be my guide in the engineering matters?” Jeto nodded. “Then let’s get to work and free those two poor gentlemen.”

This time the grin of Bajoran’s face was clear. Not a big one, but clear.




“Medic Taret,” Brenok looked at the physician. “I have a question.”

“Yes, Gul?”

“That Vulcan ensign, Sodek, said that Saratt was paralysed. That he could feel touch but had no power over his muscles...or what’s left of them. But both Saratt and Bantal here can move their eyes. Bantal has some limited face expressions and I remember that Saratt’s muscles reacted to your hypospray. And they can breathe on their own.”

“Our muscles work two different ways. Some of movements are voluntary, some not.”

“Not?” Brenok looked at the sleeping man. After their long ‘conversation’ Bantal fell asleep with some help of Taret’s medication.

“When you touch something hot...do you think ‘oh, it’s so hot, I must remove my hand’? Or do you jerk your hand away immediately?” Brenok didn’t reply, only nodded that he understood. “They cannot move. The impulses in their nerves go only one way. To collect, not to send. They can feel your hand touching them but they can’t move their hands. They can feel pain but they can’t scream. Or rather—they can scream soundlessly as some of muscles required for screaming don’t work. I think this is the failed part of this experiment. They weren’t supposed to feel anything. However their butchers feared to completely shut down their nervous system, so they left something. Too much. In Saratt’s case way too much. Bantal’s connections are a little different and his nerves were differently attached. Also his spine. I don’t think we’d be able to fix the damage so most likely he is going to stay paralysed from his waist down. I can only hope we won’t cause more damage during the unplugging process.”

Brenok shivered. After Bantal shut down most of systems in preparation for their release, the temperature on the ship dropped significantly. Part of him shivered at the details of this atrocity, though.

“Sir, maybe you should return to the Damar,” Taret said.

“I’ll be fine.”

“Sir.”

“I’ll manage,” there was no sense in lying to your medic, he’d know the truth anyway.

“Sir.”

“Taret, I can’t leave him.”

“Sir, he’s sleeping. And you won’t be very helpful later, fighting your own condition.”

“I should replicate a scarf.”

“You know it wouldn’t help. Your whole shoulder should be kept warm,” Taret insisted.

Something touched Brenok’s upper arm and then rested on his shoulder, completely covering his right shoulder, neck and neck ridge.

“Does this help?” Av’Roo asked. Brenok stared at her surprised. She covered him with the feathers of her wing. “I know this is not ideal but maybe warm enough? We keep our children in warmth this way.”

Taret looked at Brenok. The gul wasn’t sure. Feathers on neck ridges had very deep sexual connotations and it felt very awkward, but when he looked at Av’Roo, for whom it clearly was a motherly gesture, he didn’t feel immorally assaulted.

“This...” he started. “This is nicely warm but highly inappropriate.”

Av’Roo removed her wing with a speed Brenok wouldn’t think was possible. “I’m so sorry, I didn’t mean to--”

“That’s all right,” the gul raised his hand. “That’s really all right. It’s nice of you to think of me,” he smiled, then looked at Taret. “I think I’ll better return to the [i]Damar[//i]. It may be too cold here for me to stay for too long.” And with that he quickly headed for the door.

He felt terrible, leaving Av’Roo like this. He promised himself to talk to her about it later, to explain to her that he wasn’t angry and his sudden return to the warship wasn’t a result of her inappropriate behaviour. He understood she didn’t mean anything wrong and couldn’t know. His mind understood. His libido didn’t.



Cardassian Union Warship Damar
Argaya Sector near the Cardassian Union border
30th day of the month of Lukyut, 532, Cardassian Union Calendar



Ma’Kan tried to stick a tiny nacelle to her new model but her hands were shaking. She tried to relax and did a few exercises but it didn’t help much. She knew she wasn’t shaking because her body was tensed. She was shaking because she was trying to suppress her sobs. She pretended she wasn’t crying.

She missed again and the hull of the tiny Sabre class starship gained another smear of glue. This kind of work required precision and tonight Ma’Kan could offer everything but that.

She tried to think about the next day, about their attempt to release two men that were imprisoned in computer systems. But she couldn’t. Earlier that evening she had almost tapped her wristcomm to call Sabal. Her hand had hung over her wrist with a terrible reminder that there was no Sabal.

They had started to build this model together. He had prepared the design and cut the pieces and her job was to assemble it. A tiny USS Karamazov.

Another attempt of sticking the nacelle. Another failed attempt.

A filled with pain whine escaped her throat. The sound startled her and she covered her mouth with her hand. Tears filled her eyes and she blinked, trying to clear her vision. However the more she tried not to be overwhelmed by crying, the more her chest hurt with smothered sorrowing.

Frustrated, she grabbed the tiny model and threw it at the opposite bulkhead. It didn’t hit the hard surface yet, when she ran after it.

“I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m so sorry,” she cried. “I destroyed your work!”

She collected all little pieces and was relieved to see that only one was broken. She could fix it, she could glue it back together. She had to start her work all over, as all elements had fallen apart, but it didn’t matter. She could re-live those moments and imagine that Sabal was with her. That Aladan was with her.

She sat on the floor and stared at the small elements of plastic in her cupped hands. She wanted to kill that Efrosian. She wanted to pull his white hair and tear his head off. To scratch his eyes out with the little nacelles in her hands. To cut him to pieces with the knife he’d used to kill Sabal.

Her hands started to ball into fists but she realised what she was doing before she crushed the elements. She got up from the floor and went to the table. She gently put all pieces into the box that Sabal had brought them in and closed it. Then she gently stroked the cover with her hand. He had touched it. He had touched those pieces. He had touched that chair over there. And the wallcomm—many times. And her hand when he had wanted to cheer her up, or help her with her models.

He was everywhere in her life, how was she supposed to go without his presence?

“Ma’Kan to Ya’val.”

Ya’val here,” he answered crisply.

“I need you,” she whispered, afraid she’d burst into tears if she spoke aloud.

I’ll be right there,” his voice was soft and gentle.



tbc
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Old December 17 2010, 09:44 PM   #197
Nerys Ghemor
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Re: ST: Shaping a Cardassian - The Shadow of the Order

Zabar was WONDERFUL here! I loved her sense of humor, especially when she acted like "Lieutenant" was Jeto's given name!

The scene between Av'Roo and Brenok was...adorable, though just a touch sad because they are misreading each other SO much. It's very fortunate that Av'Roo immediately said that this is what Skorr mothers do for their children.

(Too bad that I can't give Brenok one of the Oralian scarves AU Marritza was wearing...as you saw in the drawing, they do go sort of closer to the shoulder area.)

I feel horrible for Ma'Kan, losing Sabal in that senseless way (though honorable, at least, in the fact that he died saving someone). But honor doesn't take the pain away, at all.

As for Bantal...his motivations definitely make sense now. He felt backed into a corner and he reacted out of fear both of them and of what would happen if he didn't do everything the Order would want him to do. I was really worried that he'd gone insane or been so filled with hatred by the Order that there wasn't much left. And a grandchild...what a wonderful reason to live. I'm glad he has at least SOME reason.
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Old December 18 2010, 12:28 AM   #198
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 - The Shadow of the Order

I agree with Zabar, why do people answer "Rank Surname" is they are asked about their name
Even Jeto can't resist her and I wonder if even Jeto thinks that Zabar reminds her of her grandmother. I hope so

Brenok and Av'Roo scene had more material, but I deleted it. It was too embarrassing for Brenok, so I cut a few sentences off. I think the picture is clear enough.
And don't worry about a scarf

Yes, Bantal wasn't a bad man. He was just another emotionally blackmailed victim of the agents
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Old December 26 2010, 01:31 PM   #199
Gul Re'jal
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Re: ST: Shaping a Cardassian - The Shadow of the Order

Here's the "soundtrack" that fitted my mood when writing this chapter: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kd18d...eature=related

Chapter 21


The Obsidian Order vessel
Argaya Sector near the Cardassian Union border
30th day of the month of Lukyut, 532, Cardassian Union Calendar




“Does everyone know what their tasks are?” Gul Brenok asked. He looked around; the engineering and the medical teams confirmed. “Remember not to interfere with others’ work,” he added. “The timing is crucial. Please take your positions.”

Jeto went to a chair by a console she was assigned to. The console controlled the table and most of programming, responsible for the Cardassian-computer connection. Ya’val sat next to her; too close for her taste but she didn’t have any influence on that—he had to man another section of the same console. She could feel his armour rubbing against her shoulder from time to time. She glanced at him but he appeared genuinely unaware of that fact. It seemed that the armour was thick enough for him not to feel such a faint sensation of touch.

She checked the readings and it seemed like the Cardassian, Bantal, was in a good shape...in a way.

She displayed schematics of connections on the screen and left them open to monitor the progress. Bantal had already disconnected himself from engineering systems and helm control software. She glanced at the man on the table. Just like Saratt on the bridge, he had been covered by a kind of tent to keep him warm. She observed three doctors that were disconnecting feeding tubes from his body. Taret asked Bantal if he felt any pain; the patient blinked twice. Jeto knew there were some wires in his spinal cord and knew it would take hours to safely disconnect him from them. Her job was to shut down the table’s functions, one by one. Bantal had given her access to a file in which the correct order of the procedure was described. She called that file now and also left it open on the screen. Luckily, uploading translation software to the ship’s computer and having all files she needed translated wasn’t a problem and it had been done a few hours earlier.

No! Ya’val put his arm behind her...on the chair behind her! She couldn’t believe he would use such a moment to impose his advances on her... He leaned forward and she felt the protruding front of his armour on her upper arm. She was just about to jerk away with her chair when he started to speak.

“Bantal,” he said quietly. “I know you can hear me...I just wanted...” he didn’t finish. Jeto could clearly see Bantal blinking once and was sure that Ya’val, from his position and face so close to hers, could see that too. “I wanted to apologise for threatening you like that before. I’m sorry.” Bantal blinked once. “I promise you a hot cup of steaming, home-made fish juice when it’s all over.” Bantal’s face relaxed.

Ya’val returned to his position. “Sorry about that pushing,” he muttered to her and she felt shamed of her assumptions. Ya’val didn’t want to touch her in an indecent way, he wanted to be able to see Bantal’s face and from his chair he couldn’t. Whatever he apologised for, it seemed very important to him.

An apologising Cardassian. That wasn’t something she thought she’d ever see.

“Bantal,” Zabar stood next to the patient, “We will now start severing the connections. We don’t know how much damage had been done to your nerves, so we will cut the wires.”

“Glinn Zamarran will inform you about each wire to be severed,” Brenok said. “You will then disconnect that link and the wire would be cut off. One by one.”

“After we finish the whole procedure,” Taret said, “We will anaesthetise you and take you to the Damar where we will remove all wires and mechanical components. That would require some minor amputations; we don’t want to leave any damaged nerves to cause you problems later.”

Bantal blinked once.

“We will start from toes, then proceed to fingers, next would be your spinal cord, neck ridges and finally your brain,” Zabar explained. “If you feel pain at any stage of the process, start blinking. Nurse Malek’s sole task is to observe your face, so we would know immediately we need to address that issue.”

One blink.

“Are you ready?” she asked.

Yes.

“Is everyone?” Brenok looked around. “Proceed,” he nodded.

Zamarran raised the tail of the tent to expose Bantal’s feet. “Five-blue,” he said and looked at Bantal and then at Jeto. The Bajoran looked at her monitor and checked the status of connection marked as ‘five blue’. It went dark, as it should. She looked at Zamarran and nodded. He looked at Bantal and nodded to him. “Four-red.” The whole procedure repeated.

“Gul Brenok,” Jeto called the Cardassian commander when Zamarran finished with all toes. “I have noticed something interesting.”

Ya’val leaned closer to take a look at her screen. Brenok approached her and leaned over her from the other side. A week ago she would start shouting, having two Cardassians hovering over her like that but not today—right now it didn’t bother her at all.

“Look here,” she pointed to one of smaller access windows on her screen. “It would appear that Bantal disconnects those links not only for himself but for Saratt too.”

“They are either related to the same shutdown procedure, or he does it on purpose,” Ya’val guessed.

Brenok went to Bantal. “Did you choose to shut down connections for both of you?” he asked. One blink. “Do we still need to wake him up?” Two blinks. “Thank you for your help, Bantal,” Brenok smiled.

“Shall we proceed?” Zamarran was ready by Bantal’s hand. Taret stood next to him with his surgical instruments.

They started again.

“This is too easy...” Jeto muttered to herself. Ya’val shot her a glance. “This is the Obsidian Order’s work, right?” she said to him, although her eyes didn’t leave her monitor. “Shouldn’t they have made it difficult? Didn’t they make things difficult?”

Ya’val looked behind her over her head and just then she realised that Brenok was standing there and heard her.

“That’s why I’m monitoring the system,” Ya’val returned his attention to his screen. “I keep scanning and searching for anomalies.”

When they were finished with the fingers, Churmou pulled a kind of shelf from the guts of the table. Zamarran lay on it, with his face up and nodded to her. The Bolian engineer pushed the shelf back into the machine.

“You’re all right there, Zamarran?” Brenok bend down and shouted into the opening.

“I’m fine,” came the glinn’s muffled voice. And “Ouch!” a moment later.

“What is it?” Taret in a split second was on his knees by the opening.

“Nothing, Taret. I just cut my finger. Don’t worry about me. I’m ready to start.”

The shelf had been installed there by the table constructors. Its purpose, most likely, was to give access to spinal cord connections, to attach them, disconnect and possibly maintain.

Zamarran started to name connections and Brenok repeated them for Jeto to make sure she understood them correctly. In this case the connections existed only on Bantal’s profile. There was nothing of that sort in Saratt’s ‘technical specification’.

“I hate the fact that it’s an engineer’s job to operate on a man,” Jeto heard Brenok saying to someone. She didn’t turn he head to see whom to talked to, she couldn’t interrupt her work. “People are not machines.”

“Look at it from a bright side,” Captain th’Arshar’s voice said. “He helps Bantal and that’s what counts.”

Brenok only growled.

The spinal procedure took more time than the extremities operation but finally Zamarran was pulled out from the guts of the table.

“Show me your finger,” Taret demanded as soon as Zamarran’s face was visible.

The glinn raised his index finger and moved it so close to the medic’s nose that it almost touched it. “See, it’s not even bleeding any more. Can we proceed?”

Taret grabbed Zamarran’s hand, inspected the cut, sprayed it with something that smelled like a disinfectant and let the glinn’s hand go.

Zamarran stood at the head of the table. He leaned over Bantal. “You good?” he asked. The patient blinked once. “So here we go.”

Jeto could tell that Zamarran was tired. His face wore smudges of dirt from the inside of the table, his hair was a mess, but his eyes were focused and his hands stable. He took the tool, which he had been using to cut the wires, and activated it. He looked at Jeto. “Blue-blue-seven,” he said and his eyes returned to the wire.

The Bajoran looked at her screen and saw that the connection deactivated. She nodded. “Done,” she said, in case Zamarran wasn’t looking at her.

He started to cut the thick wire.

“What a--” She heard Ya’val’s voice next to her. “Something happening!” The pitch of his voice was higher than usually; he started to frantically punch keys on his panel. She glanced at his monitor: there was some kind of program activated.

Brenok was already over Ya’val’s head. “Shut it down! Shut it down!” he yelled before Jeto even knew what the program was doing.

And then she understood. She looked at Zamarran. “Step back, step back!” she shouted to him. “Everyone step back!” She pushed away from the console, making sure she didn’t touch anything.

Ya’val kept entering commands, trying to stop it but she knew it was too late. The process had already started and no matter how fast his fingers worked—there was no way to reverse it.

“Back!” Brenok pulled Ya’val’s arm, but the engineer wrestled himself from the gul’s grasp and kept working. Jeto approached from the other side and grabbed the other arm and together with Brenok she dragged Ya’val away from the console...not a second too soon before it was overtaken by electricity discharges.

She glanced at Bantal, on whose body the blue discharges danced. She closed her eyes and covered her ears with her hands, but the terrible sound was still reaching her brain.

The discharge dissipated a minute later, leaving the fried body on the table. Zamarran punched the edge of the table with his fist, shouting a Cardassian curse that Jeto didn’t know. Doctor Zabar pulled the tent’s fabric over Bantal’s face and covered him. Medic Taret sat on the floor and hid his face in his hands.

Quiet. No one said anything.

One monitor was flashing. There were some Cardassian words on it but Jeto couldn’t read them.

“What does it mean?” she quietly asked Brenok, pointing to the screen.

The gul looked at it and then closed his eyes. “It means,” he looked at her, “‘All at once’.”

Zamarran looked at them and then at the monitor. He stared at the words for a moment and then finished cutting the wires off. After that he left the engineering without a word. Malek and Zabar moved Bantal’s body to a hover-stretcher and left the engineering too, followed by most of other staff.

Jeto looked at Brenok who kept staring at the empty table. She wished she knew what he was thinking. His jaws worked and his eyes were squinted.

“Do you think Nagem knew about it?” th’Arshar asked him.

“I don’t know,” the gul replied quietly. “But I am going to attempt extract the last piece of information from her.”

“I’m not sure I would trust her ‘information’,” th’Arshar said. “Can I assist?”

“No, Captain. You don’t want to witness that.” Brenok’s eyes finally left the table and looked at the Andorian.

Jeto didn’t want to even think about what Brenok meant.

“And what if she doesn’t tell you anything?” th’Arshar asked.

“I don’t care if she tells me something or nothing. I am going to enjoy the process.” The gul moved toward the exit but stopped before leaving the engineering. “You know what’s the worst thing?” he asked, not turning to face them.

“No,” the Andorian said.

“That no matter how much I’d like to torture her, I know I wouldn’t have guts to actually do it.”

“That’s a good thing, sir,” Jeto said before she realised what she was doing. Th’Arshar looked at her a smiled.

“I don’t feel so good,” Brenok said and resumed his walk, disappearing in the corridor a moment later.

Th’Arshar patted her shoulder and followed the gul. She was just about to leave too when she realised that not everyone has left yet.

He was still sitting on the floor. He pulled his legs close to his chest and leaned his arms on his knees. His forehead rested on the bent arms, his face not visible.

“Medic Taret?” she squatted down next to him and put her hand on his back. “You did all you could.”

He raised his head and looked at her. He didn’t say anything but he didn’t have to. His face was a personification of grief.


tbc
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Last edited by Gul Re'jal; December 26 2010 at 06:20 PM.
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Old December 26 2010, 05:27 PM   #200
Nerys Ghemor
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Re: ST: Shaping a Cardassian - The Shadow of the Order

Oh my God...that made me CRY.

I didn't want to see that happen to Bantal. And I don't want to see it happen to Saratt, either.

I'm glad that at least Ya'val had the chance to say what he felt he needed to say, and be understood.
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Old January 1 2011, 01:50 PM   #201
Gul Re'jal
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Re: ST: Shaping a Cardassian - The Shadow of the Order

Chapter 22


Cardassian Union Warship Damar
Argaya Sector near the Cardassian Union border
30th day of the month of Lukyut, 532, Cardassian Union Calendar



“So, what do we know?” Brenok asked everyone present in the wardroom.

“We know that the Obsidian Order made sure these men wouldn’t survive,” Ya’val said.

“So you think this was deliberate?” th’Arshar looked at the engineer.

“Absolutely. My guess is that any attempt to cut the wires attached to the brain would trig the program.”

“So what do we do?”

“I have been thinking about it,” Taret said. “The last message Bantal sent was ‘All at once’. I assume that it was a message to us, that he wanted to tell us something.”

“All right. But what?” O’Riordan asked.

“To cut all wires at once?” Zabar took a guess.

“It wouldn’t stop the program from triggering,” Ya’val said.

“But would let us remove Saratt to safe distance,” Taret replied.

“Can you move him that fast without harming him?” Brenok looked at the medic.

“I don’t know. I don’t think so, however I think that the alternative is less appealing.”

Brenok nodded his understanding. Since the alternative was Saratt’s certain death, they had nothing to lose.

“Couldn’t you find this program before this happened?” O’Riordan looked at Ya’val. “There had to be something.”

The Cardassian engineer looked at her, anger in his eyes.

“There was no way to detect it,” Jeto replied. “It was hidden deep in the system and wouldn’t be discovered unless we would specifically know what to look for. We did search through the software and we missed it. We couldn’t have prevented it.”

The human doctor looked at the Bajoran. “Are you sure?”

“I’m sure.”

“And you also vouch for him?” O’Riordan pointed to Ya’val.

“What about him?” Jeto asked. “He is a professional engineer.”

Brenok couldn’t believe his own ears. Jeto not only defended Ya’val, she also ignored the insinuation that Ya’val didn’t do his job properly because of being a Cardassian. Brenok was sure that was what O’Riordan meant by ‘him’—that a Cardassian wouldn’t do such a task with proper care because he wouldn’t care about someone else’s life. He was also glad that Ya’val didn’t take the bait and said nothing, although the engineer's face expression was telling everything about his feelings.

“There is one more thing,” Brenok said. “We know that Bantal disconnected many links for both of them. But there are still active brain and neck ridges links. What do we do about it?”

“We could wake him up and ask him to disconnect first,” Zabar suggested.

“I am not sure this is safe,” Ya’val said. “We cannot be certain that it was physical severing the wires that had triggered the program. It could also be the disconnecting procedure itself.”

“Do you suggest to unplug him the hard way?” th’Arshar looked at the engineer.

“I don’t know,” Ya’val shrugged, helplessness on his face. “I just inform you of possible risks.”

“Then the decision is yours, sir,” Zabar looked at Brenok. When they were alone she had a bottomless basket of cute names for him but when among others, especially his subordinates, she was always official and professional.

“What kind of brain damage should we expect?” Brenok asked.

“Hard to tell,” Taret shrugged. “It could make him a vegetable or have no affect at all. And everything in between these two options.”

Brenok thought for a while, feeling eyes of everyone present on his face. Finally he made a decision. “Here is what we will do...”



The Obsidian Order vessel
Argaya Sector near the Cardassian Union border
30th day of the month of Lukyut, 532, Cardassian Union Calendar




Brenok entered the ship’s bridge, followed by th’Arshar and O’Riordan. He saw a whole militia troop there, in addition to Taret’s medical team.

Half of gareshes stood around the table, each with stretched hands.

“Fom!” Tarub boomed. “Fom! Fom! Fom!”

Each ‘fom’ was a signal for the next move: the men stretched their hands, made a movement of lifting, stepped aside—each ‘fom’ was one step—and stopped.

“Again!” Tarus barked. “You must be synchronised. What is this? Little girl dancing? To positions! Fom!”

Jeto stood in a far corner and observed the troop distrustfully.

“For God’s sake, why does he look like a mummy!” O’Riordan shouted.

Brenok shot her a glance. What was a ‘mummy’?

“We need to protect him as best as we can,” Taret said. He was in the process of wrapping Saratt’s leg in some kind of bandage.

“What is it?” th’Arshar asked.

“This is an artificial scale protection,” the medic explained. “The patient’s skin is damaged, many scales missing and we are just about to move him. I don’t want to inflict more harm. This should protect him sufficiently. We would do that anyway later for the time of healing process.”

“So it’s a kind of bandage,” O’Riordan came closer and inspected Saratt’s arm that was already wrapped, including his fingers to points where the wires were connected.

“More advanced, actually,” Taret muttered and Brenok was sure he heard pride in the medic’s voice.

“And what are they doing here?” O’Riordan kept asking.

“They will do the moving,” Brenok explained. “Each of them is responsible for a part of Saratt’s body and will support it.”

“Shouldn’t nurses do it? They are more...delicate,” O’Riordan looked sceptical.

“With all due respect, Ma’am, this requires co-ordination and discipline,” Tarub said. “My people are the best for this task.”

Brenok agreed with that. In fact, Tarub came to him with the propose of using his men for this job.

“Your people are good in slaughtering innocents, not in such a delicate work.”

Tarub fumed but didn’t say anything. He only glanced at Brenok, clenching his teeth. The gul’s face remained serious; he looked the garesh in his eyes and then, not taking his eyes away from Tarub’s face, he said, “I would appreciate, Doctor, if you wouldn’t insult my people.”

“But--”

“Never!” Brenok barked in a harsh voice, suddenly looking at her.

“But--”

“Enough!” th’Arshar’s voice sounded and didn’t appear any softer then Brenok’s. “If you cannot assist, I suggest you return to the Karamazov.”

“I want to help,” she said quietly.

“Ask Medic Taret for your instructions, then,” Brenok said and his attention shifted elsewhere. He considered the conversation finished.

“Fom! Fom! Fom!” Tarub continued the training; the time between ‘foms’ was shorter with each subsequent rehearsal.

The medical team prepared a hover-stretcher, to which they planned to move Saratt, next to the table. Brenok noticed a lot of medical equipment had been beamed from the Damar.

“Fom! Fom!”

Brenok observed the preparations. Ya’val and Jeto took their posts and worked on their consoles. Taret talked to medical staff, gesturing a lot.

“Team two!” Tarub’s voice was the clearest in the noisy room.

The other half of the troop approached and stood just by the practising men. They extended their hands in front of team one’s chests and stretched two fingers imitating scissors.

“Fo-om!” Tarub boomed; team two ‘cut’ and team one immediately moved to ‘carry’ Saratt. They bumped on each other. “That is pathetic!” Tarub hollered. “You are worse than Ferengi slug worms! Your gul is watching, aren’t you ashamed? His daughter would do it better with her eyes closed! Again!” They returned to their positions. “Fo-om!” Better but still not without problems. Another set of insults followed and Brenok listened amused, as the more Tarub used, the funnier they were. “I’ll hire crash test dummies, they are more flexible than you!” Brenok had to admit they were improving. “I’ll dye your heads green if you don’t try harder! I’ll shave you bald and your wives will leave you and your children won’t recognise you!”

Brenok went to one of tactical consoles. He wanted to make sure that security systems were offline. They didn’t need any surprises, not this time.

“Sir,” Tarub’s voice spoke behind him. “If the girls won’t mess us, we’re ready.” He said the word ‘girls’ loud enough for his men to hear it.

“Good,” the gul rose from behind the console and went to the table. He looked at the face of the patient and studied his features for a long while. Don’t you dare to die, he thought. “Is everyone ready?” he asked audibly. Each team reported their readiness. “Begin!”

Troop team one took their places and waited for team two to take theirs. Some of the men gently slid their hands under Saratt’s body, others grasped or supported his head and limbs. Then everyone froze. Team two prepared their cutting tools and neared them to the wires, not touching them, though. They remained motionless, staring intently at their hands.

Brenok stopped breathing, knowing very well that Tarub was looking at him, waiting for an order to start. Finally, the gul looked at the garesh and nodded once.

“Ready! Fom! Fom! Fom! Fo-om!” On the fourth, broken ‘fo--’ team two cut the wires, while on ‘--om’ team one raised Saratt above the table and moved toward the hover-stretcher.

“It’s coming!” Ya’val shouted.

Brenok could hear the electric discharges building in the machine above the table and then blue tongues enveloping it. One of tongues licked one of militiamen elbow. He groaned but his grasp of Saratt’s arm didn’t weaken.

Then one of tongues found something tasty and was drawn to one of wires still sticking out of Saratt’s neck ridges. It quickly progressed to his other neck ridge and wires there, scorching the skin on his throat.

“Damn it!” Taret shouted.

At the same time Tarub moved and stood between Saratt and the table, taking whole discharge on himself. Brenok heard Jeto gasp, while Tarub growled angrily, as if his fury could stop electricity. As expected, Tarub’s armour absorbed the discharge and dissipated it.

“No, no, don’t do this to me...” Brenok heard Taret moaning. He quickly ran to the hover-stretcher to see Taret performing CPR. O’Riordan was already preparing a crash cart. The gul observed them working for a moment and then looked at Tarub. He saw him surrounded by his men. He moved toward the group.

“He’s all right, sir,” one of militiamen told Brenok. “Shaken and a bit burnt but otherwise he is fine.”

“Take care of him,” he told the man. He knew each sub-troop had at least one garesh with medical training.

“Yes, my Gul.”

Brenok’s attention returned to the fight on the hover-stretcher. He wished he could help. He wished he could contact Saratt’s family and tell them the good news and feared he’d have to deliver the worst thing a family can hear. He wished he could tell Saratt that his paintings were important for the Cardassians and that his return was a small miracle for Lakarians. He wished he could tell him that his butchers would be punished for they’d done to him and they wouldn’t be shown any mercy, just like they didn’t have any to offer him. He wished he could sing him a victory song. He wished he could look into his eyes without seeing pain in them.

Taret sat on the floor, breathing heavily. Did he give up? How could he give up?!! Brenok wanted to tear him to pieces with his bare hands.

“Beam us to the infirmary, full set,” the medic said after punching his wristcomm. “Then beam Garesh Tarub.”

Almost everyone around the hover-stretcher, including the equipment, disappeared in orange light. A moment later Tarub was also gone.

“Sir,” Ya’val’s voice spoke behind Brenok. “Let’s get out of here.”

The gul turned and looked at the engineer. “Yes, yes...” he muttered.
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Old January 1 2011, 01:51 PM   #202
Gul Re'jal
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Re: ST: Shaping a Cardassian - The Shadow of the Order

Cardassian Union Warship Damar
Argaya Sector near the Cardassian Union border
31st day of the month of Lukyut, 532, Cardassian Union Calendar




They had been operating on Saratt for almost twelve hours. They had to remove the wires and take care of the damage that had been inflicted by the electric discharge.

Brenok spent that time in his quarters. He had made a certain decision and decided to share it with someone, whom it also concerned.

“Uncle Arenn, how nice to see you!” Latana smiled at him from the monitor.

“How are you? How are twins?”

“We are fine. I hope you can see them soon.”

They chatted for a moment about her everyday matters and then he said, “Latana, there is something I want to tell you.”

“Yes, Uncle?”

“I will move back to Lakarian City. I will buy a house there. If you want to move with me, it would be also your house. If you decide to stay in Lakat, I would buy you a house there. It’s up to you. But I am moving and I won’t change my mind.”

“I understand, Uncle. I will talk about it with Zatal.”

“Of course,” he smiled. “This concerns both of you.” He knew Latana’s husband valued his job and he wouldn’t be able to find the same kind of employment in Lakarian City. “You have some time, though. This won’t happen tomorrow. I just wanted to let you know as early as possible.”

“I appreciate that, Uncle.” She scrutinised him for a moment. “Is everything all right with you? You don’t look well.”

“I’m tired. And I await a very important news.”

“I see. I’m sure you can’t talk about it.”

“I can’t.”

“I’ll see you soon?”

“Very soon,” he managed to smile.

Her face disappeared from the screen and he leaned back in the chair, closing his eyes. A moment later he was asleep.

“Taret to Gul Brenok.” Suddenly woken up, Brenok almost slid off the chair.

“Brenok here,” he answered in a raspy voice.

A moment of silence. “Are you all right, sir?” Taret sounded suspiciously.

“I’m fine, Taret. What is it?”

“Saratt woke up and--”

“I’ll be right there.”

He probably beat the time record of reaching the infirmary from deck two, where his quarters were located.

“How is he?” he asked Taret as soon as he arrived to his destination.

“Quite fine. I cannot be completely sure but it would appear that his brain functions are undamaged. I can’t say the same about this throat, I’m afraid. His vocal cords were fried. We had to remove a lot of tissue and he won’t be able to normally talk. However,” Taret smiled. “The smile on his face when he woke up...It was priceless, sir. It was a weak smile, he couldn’t do much more as the paratox dissolves slowly, but it was a happy smile.”

“Can I see him?”

“Certainly,” the medic agreed. He took the gul to an adjacent room, where Saratt lay in a biobed.

As soon as the painter noticed Brenok in the door, he started to blink rapidly.

“What’s wrong?” Taret asked him with worry obvious in his voice.

But Saratt kept looking at Brenok. He stared at his fellow Lakarian with great intensity and Brenok wished he knew what the painter wanted. Or maybe he was asking a question? The gul approached Saratt.

“Do you want to ask a question?” One blink. “About where we’re taking you?” Two blinks. “About what would happen to you?” Two blinks. Brenok dreaded to ask the next question. “About Sabal?” Saratt had to notice that the pilot was not visiting him. One blink.

Taret looked at Brenok, leaving it to him to deliver the bad news. They had agreed they would not lie to Saratt but also would not talk about it unless directly asked. Brenok had hoped Saratt wouldn’t ask.

“Please leave us alone,” he said quietly.

Taret moved away but stayed by the door. Brenok pulled a stool and sat next to the biobed. He could see Saratt already expected something had happened.

The gul didn’t say anything. He started to hum an old, traditional Lakarian mourning song. He felt tears filling his eyes and for the first time since Sabal’s death he felt an emptiness, a void the pilot left. He had had no time to think about it, he hadn’t given his heart any chance to feel it, but now it all fell on him.

He wasn’t the only one crying. Saratt closed his eyes and Brenok knew the painter understood his message. The gul wiped his tears and noticed that Saratt was staring at his braid. The painter gave an asking look into Brenok’s eyes and then back on his braid.

“I grew long hair because I lost my ear,” Brenok turned his head for Saratt to see. “The scar was scaring my daughter.” Saratt’s eyes glued to the place where the hair covered Brenok’s temple. “Do you want to see it? It’s ugly.” One blink. The gul didn’t do it often but this time he didn’t hesitate; he raised his hand and uncovered his non-existing ear. Saratt studied the place and his lips moved a little. Brenok wished he knew what it meant, an encouraging smile perhaps? Or maybe ‘I look much worse, so don’t worry’? He lowered his hand and the hair returned to its previous position.

Saratt’s eyes found another thing to concentrate on. His stomach.

“Are you in pain?” Brenok asked worried. Two blinks. “Is something wrong here?” Two blinks. “Do you want me to move away?” Brenok was leaning over him and maybe Saratt didn’t appreciate that. Two blinks and then again two blinks. “What are you looking at? Your body?” No. “Something you see on the wall there?” No. “My braid?” No. There was nothing else there. “You don’t like the colour of your gown?” Saratt’s eyes open wide and his nostrils widened. Was he laughing? Two blinks. “My shadow?” This was ridiculous but to Brenok’s surprise Saratt answered Yes. “Why? What’s so special...” He didn’t finish. He knew. There was a Lakarian song about having a shadow. Without a shadow you don’t exist. He started to sing.

Saratt listened to him with closed eyes and when Brenok finished the painter looked at him.

“Do you want to see your shadow?” the gul asked. Saratt blinked once. Brenok called Taret and asked him to raise Saratt’s hand. The medic frowned but did as asked without saying a word. Brenok found a piece of equipment with a reflective surface and he raised it and positioned so the painter could see his hand without moving his head.

“In fact, you have two shadows now,” Brenok commented. Due to ambient light conditions Saratt’s hand indeed cast two overlapping shadows.

Taret rested the hand gently and returned to the door.

“Ready to go home?” Brenok asked Saratt. The painter’s nostrils widened again and he blinked once. There was something strange happening to his face, though. “Medic!” Brenok called in alarm. Taret literally ran to them. “There’s something with his cheeks...or mouth, I’m not sure.”

Saratt looked at Taret, then back at Brenok. The medic took a medical scanner and hovered it over the painter’s head. “I don’t see anything wrong.”

“Look,” Brenok pointed at a bulge on Saratt’s cheek. “What is it?”

Taret studied his patient’s face, gently touched the place and the bulge disappeared. Then he laughed. The gul looked at him, wondering if his chief medic lost his mind.

“It’s his tongue, sir!” Taret explained, his eyes shining. “He can move his tongue!”

Brenok looked at Saratt who seemed to test his new abilities. His face expression was something Brenok hadn’t seen yet, his very dark brown eyes wide open. He stuck his tongue to his left cheek, then right, then left again.

“Don’t overwork yourself, son,” Taret said. “Take a rest.”

Brenok moved to leave. “Listen to your medic, Saratt. I’ll visit you later.”

No
.
“No?”
No.
“Do you want me to stay?”
Yes.
“All right,” the gul sat back on the stool. “I’ll stay but you still go to sleep.”

Saratt closed his eyes and Brenok started to hum a lullaby. The painter opened his eyes, surprised, then half closed them and then closed them completely. The gul didn’t intend to leave his side until he’d fall asleep. He just sat there, humming and thinking. There was one task left to do: to inform Saratt’s family that he was alive and is going to be alive. He hadn’t contacted them until now, as he didn’t want to give them hope and then take it away with news of his death. He wanted to wait and bring the final word.

“Sir,” Taret whispered over his shoulder. “He is asleep, you can go now.”

“I’ll stay a little while longer.”

The medic nodded, smiling, and went away. Brenok, through the door to the main room of the infirmary, noticed that Zamarran with Av’Roo stood by the main door to the corridor. He rose and approached them.

“What is it?” he asked.

“Lieutenant Av’Roo wanted to talk to you, sir,” Zamarran explained and then moved away to give both of them some privacy.

“Any problems?” Brenok asked her.

“No, Gul, I just wanted to give you this,” she handed him a small packet she kept in her hands.

“What is it?”

“A gift.”

“A gift?” he looked at her surprised. “Why?”

“Does it require a reason?” she smiled. “If it does, it’s a token of my appreciation of your singing.”

“Thank you,” he didn’t expect that. “That’s really nice of you.” He opened the box—it was decorated with drawings of feathers and some symbols—and looked inside. He saw feathers. Intrigued, he took the object and it occurred to be a scarf made of green and grey feathers.

“It’s very warm. Maybe you could use it when it too cold for you,” she smiled. “I realise it’s not something you could wear with your uniform but I hope when you’re off duty, it would be helpful.”

Brenok stroke the feathers—they were soft and pleasant in touch—and looked up at Av’Roo.

“This is a wonderful gift. Thank you,” he said softly. “About the other day...”

“That is all right, Gul. I searched the database and now I know what I had done wrong. I’m sorry for that. I never wanted to behave outrageously.”

“I know you didn’t.” It freaked him out a bit that such information would be in some readily available database.

They looked at each other for a long while. Finally, Av’Roo lowered her head and said quietly, “I’ll leave you with your friend now. I’m glad we managed to save at least him.”

“So am I, Av’Roo, so am I.”

She left with Zamarran and Brenok returned to Saratt’s bed.

“She’s...intriguing,” he told the sleeping man.

“Sir,” Taret approached him a while later. “He is asleep and should stay asleep until tomorrow morning. You need some sleep too.”

“I’ll be fine.”

“Sir.” Taret insisted.

“No.” Brenok’s voice was firm.

The medic looked at his gul and sighed. He left and a moment later was back, pushing his own chair from his office into the room. “If you’re going to stay here for the whole night, you can at least sit in something comfortable and not fall off the stool when you join Saratt in sleep. I’d hate to fix your broken arm.”

Brenok smiled. Taret sounded more like a father than one of his officers. “What about you?”

“I have a bed, thank you. Nurse Dastad will stay to keep an eye on both of you and will wake me if something bad happens.”

“Good.”

Taret smiled to Brenok and left.

The gul sat in the comfortable chair, put his hand on the biobed just next to Saratt’s and relaxed a bit. His last thought, just before he fell asleep, was that he should be talking to Saratt’s brothers right that moment.

Nurse Dastad came in and checked Saratt’s readings. Then he took a blanket and covered the sleeping gul. He went to a stool in the corner, took a padd with his book and started to read, glancing at both sleeping Lakarians from time to time.


tbc
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Old January 1 2011, 06:34 PM   #203
Nerys Ghemor
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Re: ST: Shaping a Cardassian - The Shadow of the Order

Finally...some kind of healing can begin.

I am very glad to see Saratt able to smile and even laugh under these circumstances...that tells me that there is hope for him, that somehow, his spirit was not broken despite all of the torture, and despite the hard road he has ahead of him and the challenges he will face.

To him, it seems this is a preferable set of challenges--because he's free.

I think I understand what was going on with the shadow, though I could be wrong so I don't want to say it here.



I was also deeply touched by Av'Roo's gift--and Jeto's defense of Ya'val when O'Riordan made her nasty comment.

And Brenok's singing...never has it been more meaningful than that.
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Old January 1 2011, 06:46 PM   #204
Gul Re'jal
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Re: ST: Shaping a Cardassian - The Shadow of the Order

Saratt is free and relieved that his suffering is over. There's a lot of painful healing that he faces and he knows that, but that pain would be a pain of healing and less, much less terrible.
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Old January 1 2011, 06:48 PM   #205
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Re: ST: Shaping a Cardassian - The Shadow of the Order

Oh Saratt is free Looking forward to read the chapters I haven´t read in total yet, but had to have a smallish look at least at the new chapter.*g*

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Old January 2 2011, 04:25 AM   #206
Gul Re'jal
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Re: ST: Shaping a Cardassian - The Shadow of the Order

Chapter 23


USS Karamazov
Argaya Sector near the Cardassian Union border
Stardate: 73716.9
19th of September, 2396, Old Earth Calendar



Brenok took the object he had replicated earlier and headed for the transporter chamber to beam to the Karamazov.

There, in their transporter room, Captain th’Arshar waited for him with four security officers, including Lieutenant Anson Fong.

“Gul Brenok, I really have no idea why you asked for this security detail,” the Andorian said. “We have arrested the murderer and there’s really nothing--”

Brenok raised his hand to silence the captain. “Captain, this is not for me. I would like to pay a visit to your engineer and I think she would feel safer if they were present.”

Th’Arshar smiled. “I really have to stop assuming things about your motives, don’t I?”

“If you’re not sure, just ask,” Brenok returned the smile. “Can you take me to her quarters?”

“This way, sir,” Fong gestured toward to door, eyeing the object in Brenok’s hands.

“Do you wish to inspect it?” the gul asked.

“No, sir. There’s no such need.”

So he is only curious, Brenok thought.

They arrived to a door and Fong chimed. The door parted into bulkheads and Jeto stood there in her civilian clothes, staring in Brenok’s face. The gul expected her to be scared, maybe even panicked, but what he saw in her expression was mostly surprise.

“What do you want?” she barked, glancing at the security that surrounded him.

“I just wanted to give you this,” he handed her the object.

She took it suspiciously and then ripped the paper to see what was inside. She looked at it and smiled. “It’s beautiful. What is it?”

“It’s a reproduction of one of Saratt’s paintings. It’s called Storm in Lakarian City,” he answered.

“He painted it?” she was astonished.

“Yes, he was...is a painter.”

“It’s the city that was completely destroyed in the war, isn’t it?”

“That’s right,” he confirmed. He didn’t expect her to actually admit it but it was obvious she liked it. He stepped back sending a signal he intended to leave now and she raised her eyes from to painting to him.

“Thank you,” she said.

“You are most welcome,” he answered. He turned and started to walk back to the transporter room but didn’t hear her door closing. Maybe his hearing wasn’t good enough to catch the quiet hiss, or maybe she observed him leaving. He didn’t turn back to check.

As soon as they turned behind a corner and Jeto couldn’t see them, Fong sent three other security men away and escorted Brenok to the transporter room himself.

“It was very nice what you just did,” Fong said.

“She is part Cardassian. She should know that’s not a shame. Maybe this painting would remind her that some things about us can be good.”

They arrived to the transporter room and Brenok stepped on the pad.

“Gul Brenok, please give Glinn Zamarran my regards,” Fong said.

“I will,” the Cardassian nodded.

“Energize,” Fong told the transporter chief and Brenok dissolved to re-materialise back aboard his warship.




“Was it Gul Brenok?” Av’Roo asked, putting her mug on the table next to her. “I thought I heard his voice, but what would he be doing here?”

“It was Gul Brenok,” Jeto confirmed.

“What is it?” The Skorr’s eyes opened wider at the sight on a huge rectangle in her friend’s hands. Jeto turned it for Av’Roo to see the front side. “Awwwwww!”

“This man we have saved painted it,” Jeto explained.

“It’s beautiful! Don’t you think so?”

“Yes, I think it is,” the Bajoran admitted reluctantly. She looked around gazing at her walls and Av’Roo was sure she was trying to find the right place to hang it. She didn’t want to ask about it directly not to startle Jeto. She knew the engineer might realise what she was doing and get scared by her own acceptance of something Cardassian as good.

Jeto went to the wall that divided her living room and her bedroom and put the painting there. “What do you think?”

“I think it’s a perfect place,” Av’Roo smiled.

Jeto put the painting on the floor, leaning it against the wall and returned to the table. “I’ll hang it later.”

“What is this place?”

“It’s Lakarian City.”

“You mean...on Cardassia?”

“Yes.”

“You know...” Jeto started but silenced. Av’Roo patiently waited for her to finish. “You know...Maybe that Cardassian who stopped the slaughter in my mother’s village also was from that city. It seems like people from that city are good.”

“Maybe,” Av’Roo nodded. Until recently Jeto didn’t even believe in existence of that man; she refused to believe in him.

“That death troop commander...You know what he did?” Jeto took her mug with already cold tea and looked inside not really seeing the beverage. “He shielded him. He just shielded him with his own body. He didn’t think, he didn’t hesitate, he just stood on the way of that electrical discharge and stopped it. Took it on his own body...” She looked at Av’Roo. “It was so altruistic what he did. I didn’t even think they were capable of something like that.” Av’Roo smiled. “And that old lady? She’s so nice.” Silence again. “I am so sorry for all nasty things I had told them that first day.”

“I know. Maybe you should also tell them that.”

“I don’t know if they’d want to listen.”

“You won’t know if you don’t try.”



Cardassian Union Warship Damar
Argaya Sector near the Cardassian Union border
37th day of the month of Lukyut, 532, Cardassian Union Calendar




“How’s my passenger?” Brenok asked, entering Saratt’s room in the infirmary. The painter stuck his tongue out at him. “Hey, that’s rude!” the gul laughed.

“Homework, sir,” Taret handed Brenok a padd.

“What is it?” he asked activating it and immediately recognised the content. The so-called ‘flash code’. In the past it had been used as a communication means on great distances; either with use of light or sound. He glanced at Saratt, on whose face there was a bit distorted—as his muscles still didn’t work properly—but nevertheless recognisable mischievous smile. The painter used one finger and moved it in arrhythmic intervals. “Let me learn first, all right?” Another move. A short one. Brenok quickly found the translation. No. “You’re ruthless,” he laughed. “Have mercy.” Another set of tapping.

Taret approached them and translated, “He said, ‘Forget about it’.”

Brenok growled but he wouldn’t fool even Jeto; the huge smile on his face was giving his real feelings away. “I talked to your brothers,” he said. “They are very happy that you are alive and can’t wait to have you back home.” Saratt smiled. “We should be back on Cardassia in a few days; we still await orders from the Central Command but they should arrive any minute now.” He put his hand gently on Saratt’s shoulder. “I have to go, I have a lot of work today. Just wanted to check up on you.”

The painter blinked once and smiled wider.

Brenok left the room. He peeped into another room, where—he knew—Karama was, but saw that the communication officer was accompanied by his wife, so he withdrew quietly, not wanting to interrupt their conversation.

He had to arrange a meeting for Ma’Kan and Jeto that the Bajoran had asked for. He had to file the final report of the rescue operation. He had to make sure Tarub was all right. He had to start the arrangements for Sabal’s military funeral with all honours. Not forgetting about preparing full documentation for Ha’varra’s tribunal.




Th’Arshar stormed into Brenok’s office. The gul thought it was becoming a habit of the good captain.

“I want to officially protest!” the Andorian shouted. His antennae were making rapid, sharp moves and Brenok wondered if it hurt.

Brenok sent Ma’Kan, who entered his office behind th’Arshar, with a wave of his hand and then calmly looked at the captain. “And what are you protesting against exactly?”

“The Federation has been informed by your government that this ship, this house of torture, is to be taken back to Cardassia for further study!”

“I know. I have already received these orders.”

“Can you imagine what would happen if that information gets into wrong hands?! Can you assure it would never happen again?”

“No,” Brenok said simply.

“Can’t you talk to someone there? This cannot go on!”

“Calm down, Captain.”

“How can I calm down?!” Th’Arshar threw his arms to the air. “You’re going to take this experiment back home and I fear someone might want to continue it. I know you wouldn’t, but...who knows the future?”

“Captain th’Arshar, I said I had received the orders, I didn’t say I would follow them.”

The expression on th’Arshar’s face changed; the anger faded away and surprise replaced it.

“You won’t?”

“I completely agree with you, th’Arshar. Someone could use this and continue. Or attempt to do something else with that knowledge. I will not allow that. Please, don’t think that my government is a bunch of post-Obsidian Order monsters. It’s just...they didn’t see it, they only read reports and even the most detailed report can’t fully convey what happened on that ship. They don’t understand how dangerous this thing is. I do.”

“I want this ship destroyed,” the Andorian said, but his voice was levelled and all aggression disappeared from it. He was informing Brenok, not demanding.

“So do I.”

Th’Arshar sat in a chair on the guest side of Brenok’s desk. “Won’t you be in trouble for this?”

“Let me worry about that,” the gul smiled slightly.

“Won’t they demote you or something?”

“My position is too strong for that. And I have powerful allies. Don’t worry about me.”

Th’Arshar smiled. Brenok didn’t think he saw the captain smiling that way to him before.

“I know it’s unlikely, but if I could help you with something, if there is something I could do to lessen your troubles, please let me know.”

“This is a kind offer, Captain, but this fight is going to be on the highest level of Cardassian government.”

“And I’m just a mere captain.”

“Oh, I wouldn’t say that. I suppose you weren’t told why our co-operation was so important, but I can tell you that we made a difference. Not only for Saratt but also for our peoples.”

“We did?”

“I am not sure I am allowed to tell you that, so I won’t say a word. I don’t want you to be in trouble,” he smiled. “But trust me, this was more than just a scientific mission for us.”

Th’Arshar observed Brenok, his antennae moving constantly and the Cardassian wished he knew how to read those antennae emotions. He knew that the indignation was gone, but what had replaced it?

“Now,” he rose. “If you’d be so kind to accompany me to the bridge. We have one last thing to do.”

Th’Arshar shot him a surprised and asking look, but didn’t say anything. He rose too and followed the Cardassian to the bridge. There, on the main viewer was the Obsidian Order ship, drifting and drawing a black cloud of space dust particles to it.

“Ma’Kan, are you ready?” Brenok asked his officer.

“Yes, Gul.”

The gul looked at th’Arshar and the Andorian looked at him. They stared in their faces for a moment, reading each other. Brenok had to admit he liked that stubborn blue man, who never feared to argue with him and defended his officers even if they did wrong things. Th’Arshar had a clear vision of right and wrong, his own code of morality and he followed that code strictly. He also had the ability of being able to admit when he was wrong and that was something Brenok valued in all people.

They read each other’s eyes and then both simultaneously smiled, opened mouth and said in unison, “Fire.”

A lone torpedo left the Damar’s launcher and travelled toward the Obsidian Order vessel. It hit the lower part of the hull, where the engineering and the warp core were.

No one said anything. They only observed the vessel exploding and quickly disappearing from the screen. The black cloud started to disperse, leaving emptiness of the vacuum.

“And that’s how it should be,” th’Arshar said.

“Gul?” Zamarran approached them clearly puzzled. He had been the other recipient of the orders from the Central Command. That was a standard precaution—to inform guls’ aides of their guls’ orders to assure those orders execution. The standard precaution, obviously, worked only on paper.

“I’m sorry, Zamarran, but I couldn’t let it happen. I couldn’t let this ship return to Cardassia.”

“I understand why. However I do not understand why you didn’t trust me with your decision.”

Brenok felt a sting of guilt. “I trust you, Zamarran. I didn’t want you to be involved in this. I take full responsibility for that action.”

Years ago Brenok had complained to Jarol about the same thing. He had thought that she hadn’t trusted him to share her secret and never fully believed her claim that she hadn’t told him to protect him from consequences. Now he knew better, now he understood her fully and believed every word she had told him that day. He only hoped Zamarran was smarter than him and would understand it now and not in twenty-odd years.

“I would be willing to face those consequences with you,” the glinn said.

Brenok smiled. “You don’t have to. But know this: it means a lot to me that you would back me up in this.”

Zamarran smiled too.

“You, Cardassians, are amazing,” th’Arshar patted Zamarran’s shoulder, then added, “Can someone escort me to the transporter room, please?”

“Don’t you know the way by now?” Brenok asked him.

“I do but would you let me roam on your mighty warship?”

Brenok laughed. “I’ll see you off to the transporter chamber...we call it a ‘chamber’, by the way.”

“And you call your docs ‘medics’. You’re funny.”

“It’s not me who has feelers on his head.”

“It’s not me who has a spoon on his forehead.”

“Comes in handy when you eat soup.”

They left the bridge, chatting like kids and Brenok almost burst into laughter seeing Zamarran’s face expression.
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Old January 2 2011, 04:26 AM   #207
Gul Re'jal
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Re: ST: Shaping a Cardassian - The Shadow of the Order


The Demoks’ family house
Cardassia Prime, Lakat
5th day of the month of Chatyut, 532, Cardassian Union Calendar




“I have an announcement,” Jarol said unexpectedly.

Everyone at the table looked at her. Only Laran seemed not to be interested; Brenok guessed she had already told him. She looked at Brenok, who was chewing his food, and waited. He stopped chewing and then swallowed. Did she wait for him to do that? It had to be a big thing!

“What is it?” he asked.

“As soon as Daset can return to his duties, I will step down.”

Brenok would choke is he were still chewing.

“You will do what?”

“It is the time, Arenn. I have done my job.”

“There is still lots of things you could do.”

She smiled. “Perhaps. But I believe someone else should take care of that.”

“I can’t believe you’re going to retire. You’re too young,” he said. Jarol was barely sixty-six years old, which was edging on being middle-aged but not there yet.

“I didn’t say anything about retiring. I’m going to take command of Rayak Nor station.”

Brenok put his fork away. “This may sound ridiculously unprofessional in the mouth of the highest commander of the Cardassian military but...what is Rayak Nor?”

“It’s a space station we’re going to build in the Traken system.”

Brenok was silent for a long moment. “Do you have any idea what kind of impact it’s going to have on our relations with the Federation? They’re going to be furious.” He paused. “Of course you have an idea, your job is to have an idea!” He knew she was responsible for interstellar affairs of their government.

“You, of course, realise the Klingon threat is growing and a well armed station in the Traken system would be our watch tower and the first line of defence. I had told you I had been negotiating a treaty with the Federation and your mission was very important in proving that we are civilised people and can be trusted. We are going to sign a Cardassian-Federation non-aggression treaty as soon as Daset leaves the hospital. And after that we are going to start building the station.”

“But it’s too close to the Federation border.”

“That’s why we tried to talk to the Federation first and make them understand it’s not against them we’re preparing ourselves.”

“I take it you succeeded.”

“Indeed. They still are distrustful but at least, for once, they try to follow their philosophy of peace, love and understanding. We can build our station without alienating the Federation. But they had a condition.”

“Which is?”

“There is going to be a permanent Federation presence on that station.”

Brenok couldn’t believe his own ears. “And you agreed to that?”

“What I think of the Federation is irrelevant. The safety of the Union is important. And right now it’s the Klingons we have to worry about.”

“And what about the Federation-Klingon relations?”

“That’s not our problem.”

Brenok smirked. “You certainly realise that after you step down and take command of a station...I’ll outrank you.”

She grinned. “Now that’s something I didn’t consider.”

“These are interesting times we live in,” Laran said.

Brenok looked at the young man. “Indeed they are...indeed they are...” he muttered.
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Old January 2 2011, 04:27 AM   #208
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Re: ST: Shaping a Cardassian - The Shadow of the Order

Epilogue


A young Cardassian woman pushed a hover-chair with a man in it toward a barrier. She stopped when his knees almost touched it, she then locked the chair in place. She sat on a bench next to the chair and looked at the man.

He stared at the city landscape on the other side of the river. It wasn’t Lakarian City that he knew. He had been told that it had been completely destroyed in a war of which he was not aware. Now, unfamiliar hooked spires of buildings graced the reddish sky, mixed with copies of familiar historic buildings, of which re-building he had his humble, albeit unwitting, participation. It wasn’t his Lakarian City but it was Lakarian City nevertheless and even if it looked differently, it still was beautiful. And if his old paintings could be of help in re-creating it, his life wasn’t wasted.

The sun was slowly moving to hide behind the city. It’s red light reflected from the water of the river, giving it slightly crimson hue.

A tear filled his eye. The girl has been bringing him here for four years at least two or three times a week and he had yet to grow tired of this view. He felt her hand on his; in spite of thick gloves, which hid his deformed hands, he could feel the warmth of her touch. He looked at her and mouthed Cardassia is beautiful. He could not produce voice, not any more, not for years, whispering was the best he could do, but he didn’t have to do even that—for she could read from his lips.

“It is, Uncle, it is,” she said softly.

He smiled.

A young couple stopped at the barrier and looked at the sunset. Then one of them glanced at the man. She stared at his hooded head for a moment and then pulled her betrothed away. It didn’t bother the man; he was actually glad they left as he didn’t want to ruin their beautiful moment with his face that looked like he was two hundred years old, while in fact he could enjoy merely half of that time and even that had been robbed of its quarter. He could not know that she wanted to move away not to obstruct his view.

“Uncle,” the young woman said. “I have been accepted to the Lakarian Academy of Classical Art.”

He looked at her. His face wore signs of unimaginable suffering he had endured in his life, his body destroyed by inhuman experimentation and almost useless, but his black, like Betazoid, eyes shone with excitement. His hands with missing parts of fingers couldn’t hold a brush any longer but his brain still saw the world the same way it had when he had been young and could commit those images to canvas.

“Proud of you,” he whispered. He could not make sounds any more, but he still could whisper. It had taken him years to develop that ability; still, it was better than writing everything down or using the ancient ‘flash code’. There was someone else in his life to produce voice, a beautiful voice, a singing voice.

He looked back at the landscape and admired its perfection. He wished he could paint it.

He was happy. In spite of everything, he was happy. In a weird way, laughing in faces of his butchers, he was happy.



The End
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Old January 2 2011, 04:58 AM   #209
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Re: ST: Shaping a Cardassian - The Shadow of the Order

AWWWWWWWWWWWW!!!!!!!!

He's really, truly happy! And this niece...I hope she goes on to have a long career that he can continue to be proud of. Somehow, I imagine that even though he can't hold a brush in his hands, he has been her best tutor and strongest supporter.

I am also so happy to see how long he has lived. I was really afraid he only had a few years left after all of that, but that he's lived this long in Lakarian City...how wonderful.

(I also kind of wanted to smack those people for reacting that way to Saratt's appearance.)



I was also so pleased to see that horrible slaughterhouse of a ship destroyed. There can only be ONE real Lakarian painter.


And of course Jeto finding that maybe there's something about the Cardassian side of her heritage that is worth having...that was wonderful. Saratt can count her as another life that he touched in a positive way.


What looks like a possible peace treaty is also wonderful--I think that it would be good for both powers to be less paranoid of each other, even though they will probably never get over the wounds of what happened right after the Dominion War, and the mistakes that both sides made. And how funny--Brenok will now outrank Jarol!


I enjoyed Saratt messing with Brenok over that "flash code," and insisting that he learn it the hard way!


And finally...I am glad to know that Tarub lived. I really was afraid he'd gone and gotten himself killed, doing what he did.
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Old January 2 2011, 05:12 AM   #210
Gul Re'jal
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Re: ST: Shaping a Cardassian - The Shadow of the Order

Nerys Ghemor wrote: View Post
He's really, truly happy! And this niece...I hope she goes on to have a long career that he can continue to be proud of. Somehow, I imagine that even though he can't hold a brush in his hands, he has been her best tutor and strongest supporter.
The niece is following her uncle's footsteps I think he has some satisfaction of that
Nerys Ghemor wrote: View Post
I am also so happy to see how long he has lived. I was really afraid he only had a few years left after all of that, but that he's lived this long in Lakarian City...how wonderful.
He's around 100. I don't think he could live full Cardassian lifespan, but I hope he still has some years ahead of him.
Nerys Ghemor wrote: View Post
(I also kind of wanted to smack those people for reacting that way to Saratt's appearance.)
He thought the woman was appalled by his appearance. In fact, she didn't want to stand in his way and obstruct his view. She saw an old man with handicap and knew it was easier for her and her beloved to move away than for him.

Nerys Ghemor wrote: View Post
And of course Jeto finding that maybe there's something about the Cardassian side of her heritage that is worth having...that was wonderful. Saratt can count her as another life that he touched in a positive way.
She still has a long way to go but it's a start

Nerys Ghemor wrote: View Post
What looks like a possible peace treaty is also wonderful--I think that it would be good for both powers to be less paranoid of each other, even though they will probably never get over the wounds of what happened right after the Dominion War, and the mistakes that both sides made. And how funny--Brenok will now outrank Jarol!
There is going to be at least one scene in the next story about who outranks whom and who has to listen to whose orders


Nerys Ghemor wrote: View Post
And finally...I am glad to know that Tarub lived. I really was afraid he'd gone and gotten himself killed, doing what he did.
While I am sure Tarub would do what he had done anyway, he knew his armour would protect his life. He might end up with burns, scars and other unpleasantries, but he knew he should survive that. That's what their armours are for
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