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Old June 3 2011, 12:43 AM   #211
Gul Re'jal
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Re: ST: Shaping a Cardassian - "Strength Without Sacrifice is Useless"

Nerys Ghemor wrote: View Post
I am very glad to see Gul Jarol finally break Gul Dukat's spell on her. That anger she showed towards him really proved that she is learning to see clearly. I wonder if she will learn to see the other areas where he influenced her? Before the assassination, I think she really got very close to being like him (except that her family life was not tainted). He, just like her, decided that he knew what was best for every Cardassian and he could just point a finger and make it happen the way HE wanted it to happen. Or maybe that's what she's seeing in herself now...
A lot has changed in her opinion of him, hasn't it?

But IMO she wasn't like him and the difference isn't only in their family life. He wanted power for himself, for his own glory. Her motives were different. She never dreamt to be so powerful and was overwhelmed and scared when it finally happened. They are absolutely not the same.
Nerys Ghemor wrote: View Post
I imagine that now, the contrast between the two Dukats she's met couldn't be more obvious. I'm sure that even if she pictured AU Dukat in armor--even imagining him getting a haircut!--the difference would be blatantly obvious. (That's if she could even get as far as to picture him in armor in the first place!)
I don't think she could imagine him in armour
Nerys Ghemor wrote: View Post
I LOVED how absolutely sanctimonious and sick the Federation looked here. And boy did they deserve it, too. For being spies and being able to watch people die without lifting a finger.
Their "superior morality" guarantees them the right to be always right, right? Right?
No? what do you mean 'no'?

Nerys Ghemor wrote: View Post
(Oh, and Zamarran's "number between two and four" line was AWESOME. )
I think he got tired of repeating "3" all the time
Nerys Ghemor wrote: View Post
That said, it's certainly easy to understand where the misunderstanding of the Cardassians' intentions came from. The Cardassians have a track record of abuse. And then had a coup, and isolation. To Federation eyes, it would look like the Cardassians were never humbled by their defeat and never faced up to their evil past. We know they changed, but not only does the Federation not know, but the Cardassians felt, during the isolation, that the Federation was unworthy of knowing.
That's why Captain Ram first made demands and then thought that maybe it's not exactly as it seems. She already witnessed one misunderstanding of assuming that the Cardassians wanted to exterminate a whole planet, while in fact they wanted to quarantine it. She wasn't about to make the same mistake. Now she wants to talk.
Nerys Ghemor wrote: View Post
Though I did like how Aladar pointed out that they'd managed to insult their own guards at the same time they tried to insult him!
He may be just a garesh, but he's proud of his job.
Nerys Ghemor wrote: View Post
Overall, the insight into Aladar's past was wonderful. I was sad to see that he still undervalues himself so badly, though. Not very clever?! He just didn't have time to study, that's all. I bet AU Dukat, if they could've talked while he was on the Roumar, would've given him a very serious (but not at all mean) talking-to, about that mindset. Remember...AU Dukat only has a few months, maybe even just one month of college education, and that's it. While I know Macet did finish his education, and probably "Mrs. Macet," too, a lot of the people AU Dukat works with ended up with their opportunities cut short, too, like he did. (I'm not even 100% sure AU Damar finished high school.) Most of what he knows is either from high school, or self-taught. He wouldn't want to hear someone else in a similar situation--whose plans were derailed by hardship in life--being so down on himself.

I want to give Aladar a hug. I don't care that he doesn't have a piece of paper saying that he graduated from college. He shouldn't think all he can do is "eat" books.
When someone, even one someone, treats you like a moron for a sufficiently long time, you start to believe it. I know from my own experience. And while Aladar is a clever guy, he too many times heard something about him (as a garesh, not particularly personal) to start thinking that it's correct.
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Old June 3 2011, 02:19 AM   #212
Nerys Ghemor
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Re: ST: Shaping a Cardassian - "Strength Without Sacrifice is Useless"

Gul Re'jal wrote: View Post
But IMO she wasn't like him and the difference isn't only in their family life. He wanted power for himself, for his own glory. Her motives were different. She never dreamt to be so powerful and was overwhelmed and scared when it finally happened. They are absolutely not the same.
I don't think she's a total sociopath the way Dukat was. On that I agree. With her, I think there was a lot more self-deception going on, and at least something in her telling her it wasn't right (as you know, I believe Gul Dukat pretty much destroyed his conscience, and you actually see a symbolic representation of that moment in The Desolate Vigil), though she chose not to listen and chose to blind herself to alternatives. The coup is the most flagrant example because the number of other options is really quite high. Whether all of her was into it, I think she mirrored Dukat's behavior. Even the way her subordinates acted...I think there is a very, very fine line between loyalty and hero worship. That line was crossed with nowhere near the frequency it was with Gul Dukat, but I do believe there were two or three occasions where it was crossed, at her encouragement.

I don't think she could imagine him in armour
I wondered if that would change, now that she's experienced this breakdown. Now that she knows she's not invulnerable, I wondered if it would become a little easier for her to imagine that he is able to fight the way he said he was even though he carries in him the effects of the traumas in his life.

When someone, even one someone, treats you like a moron for a sufficiently long time, you start to believe it. I know from my own experience. And while Aladar is a clever guy, he too many times heard something about him (as a garesh, not particularly personal) to start thinking that it's correct.
But I had thought that once AU Dukat came, that changed for him. Once his commanding officers learned how smart he was, and gave him the chance to show his smarts. And I'd also thought that Tarkan's reforms were going to make things better too, that he shouldn't have heard comments like that anymore, and that he would instead receive lots of recognition.
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Old June 3 2011, 03:43 AM   #213
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Re: ST: Shaping a Cardassian - "Strength Without Sacrifice is Useless"

I wondered if that would change, now that she's experienced this breakdown. Now that she knows she's not invulnerable, I wondered if it would become a little easier for her to imagine that he is able to fight the way he said he was even though he carries in him the effects of the traumas in his life.
Well, right now she is so shattered that she's all but a warrior. If anything, it would be proof to her that someone not cocky cannot fight, because it ends with panic attacks.

I don't think she would apply it to him, because she doesn't think of that side of him (a fighter), but she would tell you that she is unable to do anything and certainly not to fight. She is vulnerable = she is useless as a fighter; too scared, too weak, too undecided.

But I had thought that once AU Dukat came, that changed for him. Once his commanding officers learned how smart he was, and gave him the chance to show his smarts. And I'd also thought that Tarkan's reforms were going to make things better too, that he shouldn't have heard comments like that anymore, and that he would instead receive lots of recognition.
It was long time ago. Besides, the appreciation of him that comes from Jarol, Brenok, Tarub and Dalar doesn't change the general image that gareshes have.

On one hand a garesh is a soldier, so should be respected, but on the other hand he is a non-officer, so not smart enough to become one. Why to be only a lowly garesh, if you could become a gul some day? As a garesh, he is a "lower grade" of a soldier. As a garesh, he is from mundane work and taking orders, not issuing them.

Aladar considers his duties important but he knows that few people understand how important these duties are. Still, he doesn't think he could become a gul and he doesn't think he could make an officer. He believes everyone has their place and he has his--adequate to his abilities.
If there were only guls, there would be no one left to command.
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Old June 3 2011, 04:22 AM   #214
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Re: ST: Shaping a Cardassian - "Strength Without Sacrifice is Useless"

Gul Re'jal wrote: View Post
Well, right now she is so shattered that she's all but a warrior. If anything, it would be proof to her that someone not cocky cannot fight, because it ends with panic attacks.
One thing that does make him a little different--though I'm not sure if she really noticed this--is that in addition to the PTSD, he has had an actual mental illness since adolescence, and on his world, in his culture, he has not only received medication but been trained in how to deal with some of his symptoms in other ways, too.

It's interesting to note that Taret wasn't the one who stopped AU Dukat's panic attack. Dukat knew how, and did it himself. I know Jarol lacked that training, but now, having experienced such attacks, I think it could be hard for her to imagine being in the middle of one and just closing her eyes, breathing slow, saying something to herself, and stopping it.

I have a feeling that at least Taret noticed that and understood what it meant. But I imagine Jarol didn't notice at all. I wish, though that instead of only seeing weakness, she could've seen that it's possible to develop coping mechanisms and learn to function. If one can manage even with a bona fide medical condition aggravating matters, then there's a way forward for her too.

On one hand a garesh is a soldier, so should be respected, but on the other hand he is a non-officer, so not smart enough to become one. Why to be only a lowly garesh, if you could become a gul some day? As a garesh, he is a "lower grade" of a soldier. As a garesh, he is from mundane work and taking orders, not issuing them.
Don't other gareshes answer to him? And aren't gareshes the majority of the Guard? Without them, the Guard stops.

Where the Guard makes a mistake is not scrutinizing the garesh ranks to look for people who should be given an education and then greater opportunities. I don't know about the military where you're from, but that can happen in the US military, that they do look for officer candidates among the enlisted. You have to be really good, but if you are, you can go to Officer Candidate School.

Aladar considers his duties important but he knows that few people understand how important these duties are. Still, he doesn't think he could become a gul and he doesn't think he could make an officer. He believes everyone has their place and he has his--adequate to his abilities.
If there were only guls, there would be no one left to command.
Of course, not everyone should be a gul. That's why my Glinn Yejain has not pursued a promotion past glinn, and likely will not do so. He feels like he is doing what is right for him where he is.

But, Aladar...some guls might be misplaced. Who's to say they all deserve to be where they are just because they were someone's favorite son or daughter?
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Old June 3 2011, 05:51 AM   #215
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Re: ST: Shaping a Cardassian - "Strength Without Sacrifice is Useless"

I have a feeling that at least Taret noticed that and understood what it meant. But I imagine Jarol didn't notice at all. I wish, though that instead of only seeing weakness, she could've seen that it's possible to develop coping mechanisms and learn to function. If one can manage even with a bona fide medical condition aggravating matters, then there's a way forward for her too.
I don't think it was a matter of noticing, but of understanding what she saw. She saw him on a verge of some attack and then composing himself. I'm not sure she would draw a line between that and her own recent experiences with panic. She doesn't think of him like that (the guy who averted his own attack) and certainly not in these difficult moments.

Don't other gareshes answer to him? And aren't gareshes the majority of the Guard? Without them, the Guard stops.
Yes.
They are a nameless, faceless mass in armour. (I know it's not what you meant but it's the other side of the same coin.)

Where the Guard makes a mistake is not scrutinizing the garesh ranks to look for people who should be given an education and then greater opportunities. I don't know about the military where you're from, but that can happen in the US military, that they do look for officer candidates among the enlisted. You have to be really good, but if you are, you can go to Officer Candidate School.
I know some mechanisms in my country, but not enough to say how it is in every case. So I don't know if this approach applies too, or not.

Tarkan tried to do something about smart gareshes and appreciate them and their work. I think it works, but some old notions are still there. Tarkan's goal isn't to take smart gareshes away and make them officers, leaving only "average" people on the lower decks. He wants smart gareshes too, because they are needed where they are.

Aladar believes in an old stereotype and applies it to himself.

Do you remember that Garesh Dalar promised himself that if they survive the attack on Rayak Nor, he would apply for accepting Aladar to the Damar Guard? The process is long, takes weeks and sometimes months, and in addition Aladar has no idea about it, but imagine his face if he'd learn. He would be surprised, because all he does is just his work. He doesn't consider his exemplary work and cleverness anything above average, he thinks he's just like many other gareshes.
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Old June 3 2011, 06:03 AM   #216
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Re: ST: Shaping a Cardassian - "Strength Without Sacrifice is Useless"

There are enlisted people in our armed services (and I think in Trek, O'Brien is an example of this type) who become NCO's--kind of like a grade five garesh, in your story--and definitely garner serious respect for this. I've always thought one of the best examples in fanfic, that I've seen, is TheLoneRedshirt's Solly Brin. Definitely a character who commands respect, for sure!

In our military, a new officer, who is smart, will consider what they are told by senior enlisted men and women. Ultimately that officer has to command, and to make their decisions, but disregarding the experience and advice of someone who's seen and done it all, without considering it first, isn't smart.

Capable people are needed in all positions--I agree on that with Tarkan. I would just rather he feel that he's in a position because it's a good fit for the right reasons (being able to make a difference because someone else can't do what he does as well...and it's critical, because people literally live or die according to his decisions, regardless of whether or not he's an officer). Not because he thinks he isn't worth recognition.
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Old June 12 2011, 01:48 AM   #217
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Re: ST: Shaping a Cardassian - "Strength Without Sacrifice is Useless"

Chapter 14


Cardassian Union Science Ship Marritza, the transporter chamber



Zamarran glanced at Yassel and asked her quietly, making sure the transporter operator wouldn’t hear. “Glinn Yassel, how is your mental discipline?”

She looked at him. “You fear that the captain will read me?”

“She might try to.”

She shook her head. “I don’t know, sir. I trained but I never had any chance to test myself.”

“Don’t let it stop you from careful listening and telling me about her true intentions,” he said smiling.

Yassel grinned. The worry on her face transformed into a proud expression. “I’ll do my best, sir.”

“Incoming transport,” the transporter garesh announced and a moment later the Betazoid woman and an Andorian man materialised on the pad.

“I hope you don’t mind that I took the liberty of bringing my first officer?” she asked, stepping down and approaching both Cardassians.

“Not at all. As you can see, I am accompanied by my aide. This is Glinn Yassel.”

“Commander ch’Tef,” the captain introduced her aide.

“Please, follow me to the wardroom,” Zamarran gestured toward the door and the four left the transporter chamber, followed by two guards.

When they arrived to the wardroom, it occurred to be occupied and in chaos. Zamarran stood in the doorway, his eyes wide open in shock. After a long moment he glanced at Yassel. “What is this?” he asked.

“I wish I knew,” she answered and entered the room. “What’s going on here? Why no one obtained any permission before starting any operations in this room?”

The people inside looked uncertainly at each other.

Zamarran smiled sheepishly. “I’m so sorry, Captain Ram. Most of my crew consists of scientists with limited military training and experience, so they are not yet fully versed in protocols.”

“That is all right, Gul Zamarran,” Ram smiled. “Is there any other place where we could talk?”

“My office is an option,” the gul replied. Or we could use one of the labs in revenge, he thought humorously. In spite of a negative image that his undisciplined crew had just created, he found the whole situation amusing.

“Then let’s proceed over there.”

As they walked, Zamarran wondered if he would feel Ram’s attempts to read his mind. He knew that normally a victim wouldn’t be aware of it, but perhaps the situation would be different if a Betazoid tried to force through a mental block. He also wondered if the proximity to their targets strengthened Betazoids’ abilities. Maybe she couldn’t have read him from her ship, but she could now. He found this uncertainty very stressful.

They arrived to the office and he invited both Federation officers to sit in chairs. Yassel stood behind his chair before he even sat down.

He placed his folded arms on the desk and slightly leaned forward. “All right, Captain. Now we can talk and clarify all misunderstandings.”

She smiled. “Yes. Well...First I’d like to ask if you indeed fought with the Talarians.”

“That is correct. They still mine the sun and we demanded from them to leave. They refused. I am sure they will return with reinforcements, as they don’t seem to intend to stop their activity.”

“Did you call yours?”

“Indeed I did. I can fight against one or two Talarian warships, but not against a whole fleet.”

“Why do you care about the Rathosians’ well-being?”

Zamarran knew about Captain Lau and his request, but he didn’t want to put the good captain in trouble. “It was brought to our attention that the system is in danger.”

“But why do you want to save them? What is your reason?”

The gul leaned back and looked at her. He didn’t say anything for a moment and then slowly started to speak. “I am not sure we really have any good reason. If you expect some pragmatic explanation, then I’ll have to disappoint you. I have none. My superiors have none. We don’t want anything from the Rathosians, we just want to help. For no reason.” Or for redeeming ourselves, he added to himself.

“What will you do if the Talarians don’t leave?”

“That’s a very good question.”

She smiled. The Andorian looked at her, then at the gul. “May I ask a question?” They both nodded. “What about those Cardassians on the planet?”

Zamarran sighed. “We’ve lost contact with them. We cannot find them, as the scans don’t detect any Cardassian life signs and no Cardassian technology, apart from the wreck of the Hideki fighter. As much as I’d like to beam them up and remove from the planet’s surface, I cannot.”

Ch’Tef looked at Ram. “We didn’t detect any Cardassian signals, either.”

She seemed to consider something for a moment. “Gul Zamarran,” she said at length, “I am not at liberty to share some information, but I will try to do something about your problem.” Her first officer sent her a surprised look. She smiled apologetically. “As you can see, I am not allowed to share this detail even with my own commander.”

Zamarran smiled weakly. “I understand.”

“It might take a day or two, though.”

Zamarran’s eye ridge raised higher. It returned to it’s normal place after a short moment. “We will keep scanning the planet in the meantime, in case they reappear.”

“You do that.” She shifted. “Can I have your promise that you won’t send any more troops? I mean...any troops to retrieve them?”

“You still think that I want to conquer?” She clearly was unable to read him, or she would know that he didn’t lie.

“No. It’s about the Prime Directive.”

“It doesn’t apply to me.”

“But it’s my duty to follow it.”

“I won’t send any troops, unless I feel it’s absolutely necessary.”

She sighed. “I suppose I won’t get anything better than that, so I hope you won’t find it necessary.”

Zamarran only stared at her. After a moment he said, “Let’s do our best not to let the conflict with Talarians become a conflict between us.”

“With that I wholeheartedly agree.” She nodded and smiled. She rose and ch’Tef followed her example. “It was a pleasure to visit your science ship.”

Zamarran stood too. “I’ll see you off to the transporter chamber.”

He motioned to Yassel to stay in his office and left the room along with the guests and guards.



USS Petrona




Captain Ram felt relieved to be back on her ship in one piece. The big Cardassian was polite and seemed opened, but she felt a bit intimidated by this non-nonsense man.

“Did you try to read him?” ch’Tef asked her while they walked toward a turbolift.

“No. I doubt I would achieve anything and you know very well that I don’t like peeping into people’s heads without their consent.”

“I thought that the stakes were too high and you would make an exception.”

“No. I don’t break my own rules because it’s convenient.”

He nodded. “All right.”

“What is your impression of him? Did he lie?”

“I don’t think so. He seems like a man with a purpose and is determined to achieve his goal. If he really wants to help and prevent the destruction of this system...”

He didn’t finish but he didn’t have to. Even without reading his thoughts she knew what he meant and she fully agreed with him. And totally disagreed with the Prime Directive. How could anyone in the Federation turn their backs on defenceless people in the name of some stiff rule? She was glad that at least the Cardassians had enough decency not to stand by and watch and at the same time she felt ashamed that it were the Cardassians who came to help in spite of the Federation’s best efforts to stop them. Shouldn’t it be the other way around?

One of the things that convinced her that Zamarran wasn’t a warlord with hunger for blood was the little incident in the conference room. His shock at seeing his undisciplined crew—an undisciplined Cardassian crew!—and his leniency in dealing with it showed her that it was indeed a science ship and he indeed was a man with a soft side, even if he looked like an Earth dragon.

Upon arriving at the bridge, she left command in ch’Tef’s hands and headed for her ready room. She knew that there were observation outposts on the planet, but she had no way to contact them regarding the missing Cardassians. She had to go around to the admiralty and have them contact the scientists. She only hoped that bureaucracy wouldn’t take longer than two days, or Zamarran might take her for a liar and all the fragile trust they had built would fall in ruin.



Cardassian Union Science Ship Marritza, the gul’s office




When Zamarran returned to his office, Yassel waited for him in one of chairs. She turned hearing an opening door and rose to her feet when he entered. He headed for his chair and sat.

“Impressions?” he asked.

“The captain was cautious, but I don’t think she lied. There was something in her voice...some lack of certainty. I don’t know how to describe it, but the pitch of her voice was changing in unexpected moments.”

Zamarran sighed. Then, he decided to change the subject. “How is scientific work progressing?”

“I’ll have a full report in two hours. Rotan mentioned some progress, but I’m not sure how significant it is.”

“I see.”

“About that incident in the wardroom—”

Zamarran raised his hand. “Don’t worry about it. But remind the departments heads to instruct their officers once again on the chain of command.”

“Yes, sir.”

“Dismissed.”

She left the office and he finally could allow himself to let a small chuckle. The scientists’ face expressions in the wardroom upon entering the top brass had been priceless.
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Old June 12 2011, 01:48 AM   #218
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Re: ST: Shaping a Cardassian - "Strength Without Sacrifice is Useless"

Rathosia, Yapplorettix City, Federation Observation Point #567887



Ensign Tibaut walked carefully, hoping that she wouldn’t trip and drop the tray with food. If she had ever had any doubts, she had none now—a waiter’s job was a difficult one. Three bowls of some Cardassian food were like monsters that threatened with spilling all over the bulkheads. The Cardassians had been transferred to a prison cell and locked behind a forcefield and she was assigned to deliver them food two times a day.

She had never seen a real Cardassian before. Of course, she had studied their anatomy and she knew a lot about them, but had never met any. They weren’t the friendliest race in the quadrant and they had a reputation—not a good one.

She realised she was scared. She would have to enter the cell and leave the tray inside. What if one of them wanted to attack her? The people in the base gossiped that they were cocky and arrogant and that they claimed they had greater rights to the planet.

The doors opened before her and she entered the brig. Lieutenant Pemutruch was there and she smiled to him. She felt a little safer knowing that he would be the one to protect her. Not without a humour she thought that he should try twice as hard as with anyone else, or their date tonight might not happen.

Pemutruch took out his phaser and approached the forcefield. Tibaut followed him and stood ready to enter. She looked at the cell’s occupant and completely forgot about all her fears, her anthropologist’s instincts kicking in. This was much better than any holodeck simulation. They weren’t just a computer-generated, motionless statutes. They were the real thing, breathing and reacting to her.

Pemutruch lowered the forcefield and trained his phaser on the prisoners, while the ensign entered. She slowly walked to one of hard benches and put the tray on it. One of the Cardassians, she wouldn’t give him more than twenty-five years of age, moved aside and she was grateful. Not that she still feared them, she worried that her boyfriend might interpret any other move as threatening and shoot.

“Here,” she said. “Your lunch.”

Fenkhh yoo,” said the one that was sitting on another bench. He seemed the oldest from the group, so she assumed he was their commander.

“You’re welcome,” she automatically replied and just then realised that he spoke in Federation Standard to her. “Where did you learn that?” she asked before stopping herself.

“From my friend,” he answered, this time with the help of the universal translator.

“He speaks Federation Standard?”

“She is human.”

“Really?!” Tibaut asked in a high voice. She didn’t expect that.

He smiled. “Really,” he confirmed.

“I hope you’ll like it. It’s replicated and the only Cardassian dish in our replicator.”

“It smells wonderful,” the youngest one said.

She nodded to them and stepped out of the cell. Pemutruch raised the forcefield and returned to his post behind the console. She went to him.

“They’re not what I expected,” she said quietly.

He nodded. “I know. They sit there, talking about things, but nothing aggressive. They seem to be worried about their ship and the Rathosians. It’s not what I would expect from an invasion force.”

Maybe they aren’t an invasion force, Tibaut thought, but didn’t dare to say it aloud.

She looked at the Cardassians. Each took a bowl and a spoon and ate in silence. They seemed calm. She observed them, especially their leader. His hair was strangely short—she had never seen a simulation or even a two-dimensional photo of a Cardassian with such short hair, so she had no idea that they wore that kind of haircut. She couldn’t help but stare at their fascinating neck ridges. She wondered if their uniforms were heavy and uncomfortable. She wondered if they were hot in these heavy boots. She wanted to ask them so many questions, but she knew she couldn’t. They were the prisoners and all she was allowed to do was to bring them food.

There was one thing that struck her most—a clearly visible hierarchy. She didn’t read Cardassian, so wasn’t able to read the ranks on their uniforms, but could easily point out to the commander and not only because he appeared to be the oldest. The other two were following him in everything. They didn’t reach for their bowls before he did that; they didn’t start to eat before he did that. They were looking up to him, to lead them and show them what they should do and when. And all that without words. Just actions. She wondered how much of that was the training, how much cultural raising and how much their instincts.

The commander finished his bowl and put it back on the tray. When all three of them finished, the leader took the tray and stood in front of the forcefield with a clear intention to give her the tray back. Pemutruch took his phaser, but she stopped his hand. “That won’t be necessary,” she said. He frowned, but listened to her. “Just lower the forcefield.” She went to the cell and a moment later the tray was in her hands. The Cardassian, as she expected, didn’t try to pull any tricks. She wondered if it was some kind of polite custom—to give the tray back.

She was just about to turn and move away, when he spoke. “If you don’t mind...it’s a little too cold for us. We’d appreciate either raising the temperature, or some warm blankets.”

“Certainly,” she said, nodding. Of course, the Cardassians liked hot. She decided to go straight to Golek to get the permission to grant the Cardassian’s request.

There was nothing more left for her to do, no more excuses to stay—she didn’t have to wait for them to finish their food, she could have come back later to pick the dishes—so, reluctantly, she headed for the exit.

She decided to volunteer to deliver them food for as long as they would stay.



Cardassian Union Science Ship Marritza, Gil Kapoor’s quarters



Kapoor was tired and all she wanted to do was to take off her armour and lay on her sofa with a book. She reluctantly approached her computer terminal, which emitted a sound in regular intervals—it indicated an awaiting message. She accessed the terminal to be informed that a call awaited her and that it was urgent. No, not urgent—important.

She activated the connection and waited for a short time before it was answered. She found it quite strange that she couldn’t tell who was the caller. All she knew was that the call was from Cardassia. Why would anyone want to hide his or her identity?

The children? Did Tasar call her to tell her that something was wrong with the kids? Did something happen? But then it would be not only important, but also urgent and she had already determined that it was not the case. And he surely would hide his identity.

Her thoughts started to create the most terrible scenarios and the few minutes started to drag into long dozens of minutes. Finally, the call was answered and she saw the face of the person that she hoped to never see again.

“What do you want?” she asked rudely, not even attempting to conceal her hostility. She almost regretted that the habit of using end-sentence particle ‘go’ was so deeply rooted in her by now that she automatically addressed him properly as an older person, in spite of her harsh tone. Oh, how she wished she had omitted that one tiny word! It probably would be more disrespectful than calling him names.

Amrita, please, listen to me before you cancel the connection.”

She winced. Technically, he was her father-in-law, but they had never gone through that little, adorable ritual of acceptance into the family and switching the way of addressing each other from ‘strangers’ to ‘family.’ So how did he dare to call her by her first name, especially since he used the end-sentence particle ‘ga’ appropriate for addressing a younger person, not a daughter—he clearly didn’t consider her one. She found it extremely offensive and she knew that was exactly the effect he wanted to achieve. “Aji tar ergan go,” she barked. Speak. Again, ‘go’ slipped out of her mouth in spite of her best efforts. At least a growling Cardassian language make ‘barking’ more possible than any language of Earth would and she used the opportunity to produce growling ‘ghr’ sound, although usually she opted for a Federation Standard version of ‘g’—Tavor had told her that she sounded like a native Nokarian speaking without a growl, as Nokarians—including Gul Jarol—didn’t growl and their manner of speaking was softer than a standard Lakatian accent, which in fact was Unionese language. Now, however, she forced her throat to produce the angry sound, as it perfectly showed her feelings.

You must convince Tavor to return to Cardassia. Only for a short time, but he must come.

“Why?”

Gul Karama considered his answer for a moment—or maybe he considered telling her the reason—and finally replied. “It’s time for my shri’tal and I need Tavor to be here for me.

“Why talk to me? Why don’t you ask him?” Shri’tal, she thought. So the old bastard was dying.

I already did. He refused.” She wasn’t surprised. In fact, she was surprised that Tavor even talked to his father. “He didn’t even want to talk to me.” So she knew her husband well after all.

“And what do you want me to do about it?” she asked in an annoyed voice.

Please, talk to him. I know that you can’t even imagine the importance of this tradition, but this ritual is sacred and I need one of my sons to be there for me, when the time comes.

“Are you dying?”

He was silent for another moment. He shifted in his seat and finally answered, “I am in advanced stage of an overgrowth disorder. It’s a popular name for internal cell mutation synd—

“I know what it is,” she interrupted, rolling her eyes; he didn’t have to explain her the basics. Cancer, she thought. So, finally bad karma returned to you and now twists you alive upside down, just like you did to others all your life—this one and previous ones, too, and most likely also the next ones. She didn’t feel sorry for him. She felt that he got what he deserved. “Why don’t you ask Tasar? Isn’t it the right of the oldest child?” she asked.

You understand very little of our traditions.

“Insulting me isn’t the best strategy when asking for my help,” she said sourly.

Forgive me, you are right.” He paused for a moment and then continued, “What I have to share is of great value in the right hands. Tavor is in much more powerful position than Tasar. He could do a lot more with this information. He is also much better protected. It must be him.

She observed the old man. Arrogance still rang in his voice but he tried his best to hide it. He used words like ‘forgive’ and ‘please’—words that she had no idea he knew.

She couldn’t not notice that he lost a lot of weight and his hair was almost completely grey. Prematurely for a Cardassian. It was obvious that he was very ill and she thought that he had to be really desperate to ask her of all people to convince Tavor to talk to him and to agree to take part in the ritual of sharing secrets. She wasn’t sure, though, if her husband would like to know his father’s dirty secrets. Gul Karama had to know a lot of terrible things and Tavor wouldn’t want to have anything to do with that.

“Why do you think I would be able to convince him?”

You are his wife. You are the woman for whom he left his family. You have enormous power over him. You can do it.

Unbelievable how misguided this man was! Tavor didn’t leave his family, he just cut himself off of his father. He didn’t want to have anything to do with the man whom he despised and who didn’t accept his wife because of her species. Old Karama believed that Tavor’s insistence to marry her was her spell and power over him; he clearly never understood that his own, Gul Karama’s racism, wouldn’t stop his son from doing something that wasn’t that weird in other parts of the quadrant.

“And why would I want to convince him?” she asked.

The old man stared at her without a word. He slowly blinked and then said quietly, “This is more important than what you or I want. This is not about liking each other. This is about...” He shook his head. “You won’t understand. You cannot even imagine what I know and about whom. I want him to have that information. I want him to secure himself with that information. You turned him against me, but he still is my son and I still love him.

Her mouth opened in shock, but she was only able to shake her head. She turned Tavor against him? She did it? Not years of beating and humiliating? He loved Tavor? With his heavy fists in Tavor’s face?

“You know something?” she said angrily. “I won’t talk to Tavor about it? You know why? Not because you keep insulting me, not because you twisted the reality to fit your imagination. Because he wouldn’t want to and I don’t intend to have a family quarrel over you! You are not worth it. I won’t anger my beloved husband for you. Forget about it. Your son hates you so much that you will have to die with your secrets. I’m sure he wouldn’t even want to know any of your dirty thoughts.” With that she disconnected.

She felt terrible. She felt like she had just done something really, really awful—she stood between a father and a son. What if this was the last chance for them? What if Tavor wouldn’t forgive her—and himself—that he didn’t explain things and didn’t participate in shri’tal before it was too late? After Gul Karama’s death all would be lost and it couldn’t be undone.

But would Tavor ever want to come to terms with his father? Would he even have a need of talking to him and explaining everything? Tavor waits for the old man to die to take his mother to his brother’s home. And so does Tasar. Both brothers had turned their backs on their father, who had abused them all their lives and didn’t want to have anything to do with him. Gul Karama had struck Tavor in front of Kapoor! She had been so shocked and later her shock even grew as she had realised that no one else had been shocked. It was a routine for them! Hitting your son in the face was so normal that no one cared!

Still...she felt uneasy.

She decided to mention to Tavor that his father had called her. Not to convince him to do anything, but to inform him that this had happened. What she’d do next would depend on her husband’s reaction.

A terrible evening had just gotten worse.


tbc
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Old June 12 2011, 02:13 AM   #219
Nerys Ghemor
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Re: ST: Shaping a Cardassian - "Strength Without Sacrifice is Useless"

I like how you described the people that a Betazoid reads in detail without consent as victims. That's what I've always thought, especially about how the creepy Trois. Yeah, both Lwaxana and Deanna were creepy.

One question, though. How much is a Betazoid, in your universe, unable to control, and how much is a deliberate probe? At least in mine, there are certain things that my Betazoids are unable to help sensing.

I like how Captain Ram doesn't deliberately probe people without asking. (I wonder, though...under what circumstances would she feel the situation is appropriate to ask?)

I wonder how Zamarran would feel if he found out that this Betazoid believes in asking permission?

I loved the scene where they found all that chaos in the wardroom! Do you think that some of these scientists have weaker hierarchical instincts? (Kind of like my Iymender, who actually has a diagnosable issue, by Cardassian standards.)

I'm coming to like Ensign Tibaut...a little bit. But a duck-blind scientist is not high up on my totem pole of people to consider deserving of my liking them. At least she was able to see that these Cardassians weren't scaled monsters.

I hope Golek won't decide it's in his best interest to freeze the Cardassians. I hope he'll at least have the decency to go get them some blankets.

For Kapoor, losing her temper at her father-in-law...I understand how she felt, but I think it would be right if she would simply tell Tavor what happened but without any encouragement one way or the other. Just...here it is; it's your decision.
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Old June 12 2011, 02:33 AM   #220
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Re: ST: Shaping a Cardassian - "Strength Without Sacrifice is Useless"

Nerys Ghemor wrote: View Post
One question, though. How much is a Betazoid, in your universe, unable to control, and how much is a deliberate probe? At least in mine, there are certain things that my Betazoids are unable to help sensing.

I like how Captain Ram doesn't deliberately probe people without asking. (I wonder, though...under what circumstances would she feel the situation is appropriate to ask?)
I am sure that some things cannot be stopped and that some "reading" cannot be avoided by a Betazoid. But Ram is fully aware how uninvited reading is taken by non-telepaths and I think she trained herself to be able to control her mind as best as possible. Maybe some Vulcan techniques, or something like that.

In addition, Zamarran is a man of discipline, so I am sure that even if she wanted to read him, she wouldn't be able to. With her not trying and keeping her mind locked and his shielding his--she wouldn't know much of what he's thinking.
Nerys Ghemor wrote: View Post
I wonder how Zamarran would feel if he found out that this Betazoid believes in asking permission?
He would be positively surprised. And maybe a bit guilty about Yassel's ability to read the voices. It's not the same, as Yassel doesn't violate privacy and uses only what's readily available, but Zamarran would still feel like it's cheating a bit.
Nerys Ghemor wrote: View Post
I loved the scene where they found all that chaos in the wardroom! Do you think that some of these scientists have weaker hierarchical instincts? (Kind of like my Iymender, who actually has a diagnosable issue, by Cardassian standards.)
I think that the highest ranking ones didn't follow the protocol for whatever reason. The lower ranking scientists just follow their leaders.
Nerys Ghemor wrote: View Post
I'm coming to like Ensign Tibaut...a little bit. But a duck-blind scientist is not high up on my totem pole of people to consider deserving of my liking them. At least she was able to see that these Cardassians weren't scaled monsters.
I wonder what you'll think of her after the next chapter, which will be posted shortly.
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Old June 12 2011, 02:44 AM   #221
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Re: ST: Shaping a Cardassian - "Strength Without Sacrifice is Useless"

Gul Re'jal wrote: View Post
I am sure that some things cannot be stopped and that some "reading" cannot be avoided by a Betazoid. But Ram is fully aware how uninvited reading is taken by non-telepaths and I think she trained herself to be able to control her mind as best as possible. Maybe some Vulcan techniques, or something like that.
It would be ironic if some of her self-discipline techniques were even Cardassian in origin, even if they were part of a technique given to her by another species!

For my Betazoids, I think the most that a fully telepathic Betazoid would be able to do would be to learn to block images and words. But I'm not sure mine could stop sensing emotions without taking drugs or having invasive surgery. Some of the most powerful ones (like my Professor Shalwa) may not be able to fully stop "overhearing." The best they can do is learn discretion, and be very, very careful about judging people with only fragmentary and very out-of-context evidence. (Actually, I think it's this kind of discipline on Professor Shalwa's part that made her the good diversity instructor. She hears things she can't help hearing, but she learned a way of thinking about it, and appreciating each individual as they are, that turned into an appreciation she passes on to her students. )

Nerys Ghemor wrote: View Post
I wonder how Zamarran would feel if he found out that this Betazoid believes in asking permission?
He would be positively surprised. And maybe a bit guilty about Yassel's ability to read the voices. It's not the same, as Yassel doesn't violate privacy and uses only what's readily available, but Zamarran would still feel like it's cheating a bit.
With his strong sense of honor, I can see why he'd feel that way, even though I agree it's not the same.
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Old June 12 2011, 02:53 AM   #222
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Re: ST: Shaping a Cardassian - "Strength Without Sacrifice is Useless"

Chapter 15


Rayak Nor, Medic Fatret’s office



“What can you tell me about Captain Andric?”

Jarol blinked. “Why do you ask me about him?” She didn’t look at the medic, her eyes were on her right hand, which still showed proofs of cuts from the morning. The skin had been regenerated in the infirmary, but the tiny scales don’t grow back within seconds, so her hand was marred by pinkish lines.

“I would like to know how you feel about him.”

“I respect him.”

“Even though he is a human?”

Jarol’s eyes met Fatret’s. “What does it have to do with anything?”

Fatret smiled weakly. “How many humans did you meet in your life?”

“Personally?”

“Yes. Personally. How many did you talk to?”

“Several.”

“Who was the first human whom you spoke to?”

“Ondracek.”

“Who was he?”

“A colonist. He lived on one of the colonies that used to be Federation but were handed to us after the Border Wars.”

“Did you respect him, too?”

“Yes.”

“Why?”

“Ondracek helped the Cardassian colonists who were forced to relocate to that planet. The Cardassians had nothing and the Federation people agreed to help them.”

“How did you feel about it?”

“Terrible.”

Fatret was clearly taken aback by that. “Why? Was it so wrong to help other people? Federation resources were not good enough for Cardassians?”

Jarol’s eyes flared with anger. “If you don’t understand something, then ask. Don’t judge me not knowing all facts.”

“I had asked ‘why’?”

“Because the Central Command dragged people out of their own homes and moved to another planet without anything. The government treated their own people like trash, with complete disregard for their needs. I was grateful for the help the Federation people offered. They showed more heart to the new colonists than the colonists’ own government. I felt terrible that my own Central Command did that. I felt terrible that my stupid gul claimed the success to me and himself. Neither of us did that, neither of us helped the colonists. It were the Federation colonists and they should have been awarded for their actions.” Fatret nodded. “I think you owe me an apology,” Jarol said bitterly.

But the medic said nothing. Instead, she asked another question. “What about the times when the Federation colonists turned Maquis.”

“They were killing us, not helping.”

“But not all colonists were Maquis. Did you make that distinction?”

Jarol felt blood escaping from her face. Her hands tightened into fists. No, they did not. She did not, not always. “I don’t want to talk about it.”

“Why not?”

“You have already decided that I’m a monster, why do you ask for more proof?” she shouted heatedly.

“You had the man who had raped a civilian executed to stop this kind of soldiers’ conduct and to show your troops this was not right and would not be tolerated. You also prevented one massacre. Why didn’t you prevent more?”

“Because I was angry.”

“With whom?”

“With the people who hurt Cardassians. They all approved that. And so did we.” She paused. “That’s not good, isn’t it? That I think like that.”

“Do you think it was fair? Justice?”

“We could have been better than them. We could have made a distinction between those with weapons and those without, even if they didn’t make it. But we were not good at that. We hardly ever cared.”

“Who is ‘we’?”

“We, the Cardassians.”

“So now your mistakes belong to everyone?”

“I didn’t design Bajor and the same injustice happened there,” Jarol barked. “Do you want to pin that on me, too? Yes, we made mistakes. I wasn’t the only one.” Fatret didn’t say anything. “You have a day of jumping to conclusions,” Jarol smirked.

“I’d rather concentrate on you and you alone. Let’s leave others’ sins in peace.”

“Oh, so the colonists massacres were only my responsibility? Mine alone?”

“I don’t ask who was responsible. I ask how you feel about them.”

“I think my feelings are clear. This session is over.” With that, Jarol rose and left the room not looking back.

“What happened to your hand?” Fatret called after her, but the gul didn’t intend to stop and grant her an answer. She was sure that Fatret knew anyway, or would know very soon—from Laran.

She left the office and headed for her quarters, hoping that the broken mirror in the bathroom was already replaced. Not that she wanted to look at the despicable woman in the mirror; she just hoped that the quarters would be empty and no strangers roaming around with their tools.



Cardassian Union Science Ship Marritza, Gil Kapoor’s quarters




Kapoor smiled to her husband’s face on the monitor. “I hope I’m not bugging you?” she said, literally translating an English idiom. He already knew what it meant; it was their little family joke, as it was no secret that she was terribly afraid of all sorts of insects.

You can ol’rot me all you want,” he replied with a smile of his own. “I take it any time over being bugged by the rebelled colonists.

“That bad?” she asked. She knew the Damar was currently dealing with some disgruntled Cardassian colony.

No, not really. But they are annoying and I’m no diplomat. But you didn’t call me to ask about that, did you?

How could he tell? How? How was it possible that he always read her so well. “True,” she admitted. “This is...” There was no way around it, so she spit it out, “This is about your father.”

Tavor’s eye ridge rose slightly. “Did he contact you?

“He did.”

Kapoor’s sweet teddy-bear turned into a dangerous grizzly. “What did he want? To make me talk to him?” he growled angrily.

“Yes.”

I told him to leave us alone. I told him clearly to leave us alone!” The last two words were almost shouted.

“Tavor...please...”

You don’t beg me for him, do you?!

“No, I beg you to calm down.”

I hope you didn’t talk to him and just told him to go to hell and disconnected.

“I talked to him.”

Did he insult you in any way?

“He tried not to but he’s too stupid to know when he actually does that.” Glinn Karama fumed again, so she said quickly, before his anger would explode. “Tavor, listen to me. I don’t want to convince you to talk to him, or anything. But I know that you refused to talk to him completely and you don’t even know what it’s all about.”

That’s right. There’s nothing he could tell me that I’d be interested in.

“It’s about shri’tal.”

Her husband’s face changed in an instant. Anger was replaced by surprise and then a calm mask. “He wants me to return to Cardassia,” he guessed.

“Yes,” she confirmed.

Did he say when?

“Not precisely, but I think it’s quite urgent. He didn’t look well.”

Evil deeds return to him?

“Yes, it seems so,” she confirmed with a small grin. She had talked to Tavor about her beliefs, she was happy he respected them, but she’d never think he would start to share her faith in karma. He probably didn’t even realise that himself—and he never named the balance that way—but it wasn’t the first time that he seemed to believe that bad and good things sooner or later returned to you.

He sighed. He was silent for a moment and then said, “Thank you for telling me.

She frowned. “Are you going to go to Cardassia for him?” Tavor nodded. “But...why?”

Amrita, shri’tal is bigger than my father and me. It doesn’t matter if we hate each other, it doesn’t matter that we haven’t spoken for years.” She was completely astonished hearing her husband saying almost exactly the same thing that his father had said. “He needs someone to share information and he wants to share it with me. I cannot refuse. I don’t want to refuse. He was a powerful gul and he knows a lot of things. He cannot take them to his grave, because some of those things could be used to help people, or to protect people. I know that the things that could harm people will go to my grave with me, as I won’t burden any of our children with that, but I want to make sure that I have all I need to protect those who are my father’s enemies. And to make sure that his friends don’t turn against me, my brother, you or anyone else.

“It just has to be done. This ritual is not a meaningless old tradition. This ritual is bigger than my father and me. It’s bigger than any single pair of Cardassians. I have to go
.”

She didn’t fully comprehended it, but she nodded as if she did. If he felt he had to do it, then it was good enough for her.



Rathosia, Yapplorettix City, Federation Observation Point #567887



Tibaut entered the bring with a tray and headed straight for the Cardassians’ cell. All three were seating on a bench and discussing something in hushed tones. It looked like an argument, but the ensign wasn’t sure if it was a correct impression.

“Breakfast,” she said and the discussion immediately seized.

Garesh Aladar—she knew the leader’s name now—approached the forcefield. “Thank you,” he said. But she could tell that it wasn’t the only thing that he wanted to say.

“Step back from the forcefield,” Pemutruch, who was on duty again, said.

Aladar made three steps backward without a word. His eyes didn’t leave Tibaut, when she entered the quarters and put the tray with food on a bench. His gaze was so intense that she started to wonder if he wasn’t considering taking her as a hostage. However, he didn’t make a move until she left the cell and the forcefield was back up.

“How long are we going to be kept here?” he asked.

“I...I do not know.”

“No one interrogates us, no one comes here but you. Are you going to keep us here locked until the planet is destroyed? Are you going to force us to die with the Rathosians?”

His words cut her heart like a sharp, serrated blade. His tone of voice wasn’t aggressive, or even harsh, but the meaning behind his words reminded her that the Federation Prime Directive forbade them from doing anything for the aliens on this world and adding these three Cardassians to the casualty tally was only adding to her strong feeling of guilt.

“I really don’t know,” she said quietly. Oh, God, don’t let me cry, she thought, feeling tears swelling under her eyelids.

“Can’t you ask someone? Or tell someone I want to talk to them? Please?”

“I will,” she promised. She hesitated, but then decided to ask the question that rang in her mind since the capture of the Cardassians and their statements. “Are you here really to help the Rathosians?”

He shifted and she had an impression that he took more relaxed pose. “Yes, we are. We don’t have any laws that forbid us from helping others.”

“Why?”

“Why does the Federation do it...sometimes?”

“That’s one of our missions. That’s what we do.”

“One: it could be our mission and what we do, too. Two: you don’t do it now, so we have to.”

She closed her eyes for a moment. Was that the truth? Were the Cardassians here, because the Federation wouldn’t do the right thing? What did that make of them, the Federation? Another wave of guilt flushed through her soul. She opened her eyes and looked at the Cardassian.

He smiled. “You don’t approve of that any more than I do, am I right?”

Oh, yes, you are, she thought, but didn’t dare to say it. She looked back to glance at Pemutruch and he waved to her to approach him.

She left the Cardassians to their meal and went to her boyfriend. His cranial trunks waved with a faint sound. “I listened to them all morning,” he whispered. “They talked about their warship and about the Talarians. And about this planet. And about the Rathosians.” He paused. “I can tell you one thing: they don’t lie. Everything they told us is the truth.” He paused again and leaned closer to her. “And it pisses me off that we try to stop the Cardassians from helping. I really does!” The last word was so emotionally packed that he didn’t manage to keep it quiet and his trunks emphasised it by emitting a high pitched sound.

The Cardassians glanced at them and then returned to their breakfast.

“I was in the command centre this morning,” Tibaut said, leaning closer to Pemutruch, “and the commander talked to some captain. That captain knows that we have the Cardassians and wants them released before the Cardassian gul gets pissed, but the commander doesn’t want to release them. She doesn’t trust them. She even told an admiral that she is against trusting the Cardassians in this matter. She is sure they are not here to help, but to conquer.”

“She can’t refuse orders.”

“They didn’t order her. They just asked.”

“Why?”

“Because she has the expertise in a situation like this.” She motioned her hand around, indicating the study complex. “In the end she has the final word.”

“But if the Cardassians really want to help, should we stand in their way? Ok, the Directive says that we cannot, but do we have to interfere when someone else wants to?”

Tibaut only shrugged. “I don’t understand that, either. And I can tell you that I don’t like it at all.”

“Neither do I.” Pemutruch looked at the Cardassians. “I can’t say I fully trust them, but they certainly don’t appear to be vicious, bloodthirsty monsters.”

The ensign wondered how many officers in the base would agree with them, how many felt discomfort knowing that they were watching a race that was doomed and were not doing anything to stop their extinction, even though it was possible.
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Old June 12 2011, 02:53 AM   #223
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Re: ST: Shaping a Cardassian - "Strength Without Sacrifice is Useless"

Cardassian Union Science Ship Marritza, Laboratory Five



Yassel was leaning over a console, so concentrated on her study that she didn’t notice Zamarran entering the room.

“Any progress?” he asked, looking over her shoulder.

She jumped. At first Zamarran thought that he had startled her, but her initial reaction didn’t evaporate. She made one step back and it seemed like she tried to keep him at a distance. He did not violate her personal space, he did not approach her that close, so he wasn’t sure what could have caused such a reaction.

She seemed to compose herself. “I’m so sorry, sir. I’m so sorry, I didn’t mean...” she started to mutter and the gul’s confusion only rose. What was she apologising for?

“No, I’m sorry for startling you so badly. Now, can you—”

He didn’t have a chance to finish, because Yassel slipped by him and ran out of the lab. He flabbergasted stared at Kapoor. “Was it something I said?” he asked.

“I’ll talk to her,” Kapoor offered and after receiving an approving nod from the gul, she followed the glinn.

Zamarran looked at Gil Rotan. “Yassel had told me that you had news for me,” he said.

She nodded. “Indeed, sir.” She motioned to the main display with a star’s diagram on it. Zamarran guessed that it wasn’t just any star, but the one that was causing all the trouble. “As per your orders, sir, we kept scanning the level of phorogotium in the Rathosian sun. The level didn’t fall since our initial scan, so I would assume that the low levels are the result of Talarian mining operations. If this is their target, or just a side effect—I cannot tell yet.

“We have also scanned for other elements and their levels. There is some imbalance, but we haven’t detect any change since our arrival. However, there is a significant drop of some levels, if we compare our readings with the readings given to us by the Federation captain. I would assume that the Talarians mined the sun between their and our scans, hence the difference.”

“Would simple delivery of missing components help?” Zamarran asked, sure that it wouldn’t be so easy.

“I am not sure, sir. A star’s chemical balance is a fragile one and it’s not easy to control it. Even if it would be a solution, there’s still a question of delivering the elements to the sun’s core.”

The gul nodded. “I see your point.”

“It would help, sir, if we knew what exactly the Talarian ships extract from the star and how.”

“Doubtful that the Talarians would share that kind of details, but I’ll see if I can get that information somehow.”

Rotan smiled weakly. “To be honest, I have no idea what to do now. We have gathered a lot of information, but there’s little we can do about it. If Talarians mined the sun for some time and we returned to see the difference...well, that could help.” Seeing Zamarran’s face expression, she quickly added, raising her hand. “I know, this is not an option. But right now I cannot tell what kind of change we’re dealing with. I see only results. It’s like seeing a dead body. We know it’s dead and we even know how killed it, but we don’t know how.”

“So be a good investigator and find out.”

“That’s what I’m trying to do, sir, that’s what I’m trying to do.”

“Keep working. I’ll see if I can get any information from the Talarians or the Federation.”

The gil nodded and Zamarran turned and headed for the door, when a young kara approached him.

“Sir...” she said shyly.

“Yes, Kara Talis, what can I do for you?”

“Are we going to rescue our people from the planet?”

“We are, Talis. I’m not leaving anyone behind,” he assured her, wondering why it was so important to her. Was it personal? He wouldn’t dare to ask, as it was none of his business.

She seemed satisfied with his answer, as a small smile appeared on her face. She nodded and returned to her duties.



Cardassian Union Science Ship Marritza, the gul’s office



Zamarran returned to his office to be mildly surprised by the presence of two of his officers there. “You better?” he asked Yassel.

“Tell him,” Kapoor said, clearly addressing the glinn.

“It doesn’t matter any more,” Yassel replied quietly.

“Tell him or I’ll tell him,” the human engineer demanded, crossing her arms on her chest.

Zamarran knew this tone of voice. Kapoor was determined and would not stop before getting what she wanted. “What is the problem?” he asked, looking at both women.

Kapoor gave Yassel an expecting glance, but since the Cardassian only lowered her head, she decided to speak. “Glinn Yassel was sexually harassed by her previous gul. She doesn’t think that you would even do anything like this, but the fear is there. So you startled her today.”

Zamarran was speechless. His initial shock slowly turned into hot fury. He went behind his desk with the intention to sit down, but instead walked around, took a chair and put it in front of the one that Yassel sat on. He made sure it wasn’t too close and sat too. He leaned toward her. At first she didn’t react but finally she raised her head and looked him in the eyes for a second. Then she looked away.

“Yassel, how far did he go?” Zamarran asked softly.

“Only touching. And talking.” She shifted her shoulder under her armour and the motion reminded him of Gul Brenok shifting his shoulder when his neck ridge was in pain. She had said ‘only,’ but in Zamarran’s eyes uninvited touching of neck ridges was everything but ‘only.’ “And ‘accidental’ rubbing in a corridor or on the bridge.”

“Did you report him?” he asked. She shook her head. “Why not?”

“He threatened that I would regret it. That he would tell my family that I am indecent. And that I would have to pay him for the trouble. Besides...who would believe me?”

“I believe you,” Zamarran said gently. He glanced at Kapoor, who stood just behind Yassel’s chair. “And I will report it.”

“No!” the glinn shouted. “He will change my life into hell. He will—” She silenced, seeing Zamarran’s hand stretched to her. He didn’t want to grab her hand without her consent to additionally stress her, so he offered his and waited if she accepted it or not. She slowly, uncertainly, put her small hand in his.

“I will protect you,” he promised. “Gul Zeter will pay for all he did to you, for all his threats and for all attempts of making your life difficult. I can assure you that Gul Brenok would not allow something like this stay in the Guard.” He would not call a beast of that kind ‘someone.’ “I will personally make sure that he will take care of this matter.”

Now he understood why she was always so uncomfortable in his presence. Or in Torpal’s presence. When dealing with women or younger men, Yassel was fine and relaxed, but when in presence of higher ranking, older men—she seemed like she was afraid to breathe. Cardassian men who represented any sort of power paralysed her. Zamarran suspected that she was as afraid of her own father, as of any other powerful male and it was nothing personal. The abuse that she had to suffer at the hands of Gul Zeter only strengthened her feeling of vulnerability—even when you are being hurt, you cannot do anything about it.

She looked up at him and he saw hope in her eyes. “Won’t you be in trouble, sir?” she asked, worried.

Zamarran smiled slightly. “Yassel, your previous gul broke the law. Reporting it is my duty. My duty as a soldier and my moral duty. You can be sure that Gul Brenok doesn’t tolerate incidents like this.” He wanted to joke that not reporting it at once might get her into trouble, but decided that she was not ready for jokes, yet.

She took a sharp breath and he had an impression that it was a muffled sob. Then a small grin appeared on her face. “Thank you, sir.”

He let go of her hand and leaned back in his chair. “Now, tell me what happened so that I have something to present your case.”

“Do you still need me?” Kapoor asked Yassel.

The glinn shook her head, but Zamarran said, “Stay, Kapoor. We could use an additional pair of ears. And have a padd ready with the recording on stand by.” Not mentioning that Yassel would be better with another woman present in the room. He looked at the glinn. “This will be for Gul Brenok. I hope it would let avoid asking you the same questions over and over and re-live that many times. Just this one time.” Yassel nodded. Her eyes went to the sofa in the corner of the office, so Zamarran said, “Let’s move to a more comfortable environment.” He tried to sound encouraging, but he was sure that Yassel detected in his voice that it was forced. He knew that if she needed a comfortable place, her report would be all but short.



Cardassian Union Science Ship Marritza, the mess hall



It felt good to tell someone about all those things that had happened to her. It felt like pushing a heavy rock off her chest. She could breathe now.

Yassel’s father was a gul since she remembered—as if he were born a gul and never had to climb the ladder of ranks—and he treated everyone at home as if they were his troops. She always envied all those kids that had loving, warm dads. She had never experienced anything like it—until now. Gul Zamarran was so worried and so caring that for a moment she wished she were his daughter. She had never known before how it was, when someone wanted to help you and fight the injustice that had happened to you. And now Kapoor—without any reason—had helped her to talk to Zamarran who—without any reason—had promised her to take care of the matter and take it to the commander of the military. Not even of the Order, but of the Guard!

The goodness that had just met her overrode the terrible feeling of recalling all those unpleasant events and she was now having her meal in quite a good mood. She felt calmer. More at peace. Zeter would have to face the consequences of his actions and perhaps—she dared a shy thought—he would be even expelled from the Guard in disgrace.

“How are you feeling?”

Yassel raised her head to look at Kapoor, who stopped by her table with a tray in her hands. “Surprisingly well,” she admitted. She still had no idea how come the engineer managed to make her tell her all about her fears, but she was grateful. “Would you like to join me?”

Kapoor smiled and sat. “Thanks.” She took her dishes off the tray and pushed the tray away. Yassel noticed that Kapoor’s choice of food was a mix between Cardassian and alien—presumably human—dishes. “I am sure it was difficult to talk about those things, but it had to be done. This bastard should be locked in prison, if you ask me.”

Yassel didn’t say anything. She wished they talked about something else. “Can I ask you something?”

“Sure.”

“Why don’t you use your husband’s surname? People of Earth don’t do that?”

Kapoor smiled. “In many Earth cultures they don’t, but it’s not the reason. I have Tavor’s surname, but people used to call me by my own, plus we used to serve on one warship and it would be too confusing to have two Karama’s there. Officially I use both, Kapoor-Karama.”

“Do you have the same rank?”

“No, but you don’t always use the rank.”

Yassel nodded, agreeing with it. “Do you miss him?”

The engineer smiled. “Every second.”

“When was the last time you talked to him?”

A shadow appeared on Kapoor’s face. “This morning.”

“I’m sorry, I hope...this wasn’t a bad conversation...I mean...you look sad and sound...I’m sorry.”

“No, it’s okay.” Kapoor shook her head. “Don’t worry about it. We didn’t quarrel, we just had to talk about something unpleasant. There’s something he has to do and he doesn’t like it. And I don’t like when he’s unhappy.”

“You have two kids, right?”

“That’s right.”

Yassel grinned. “Tell me about them.”

The engineer’s face brightened as she started to talk about her children. Yassel listened with genuine interest, asking questions from time to time and finally forcing Kapoor to promise her to show her images of the little Karamas at the earliest opportunity.


tbc
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Old June 12 2011, 02:55 AM   #224
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Re: ST: Shaping a Cardassian - "Strength Without Sacrifice is Useless"

Nerys Ghemor wrote: View Post
It would be ironic if some of her self-discipline techniques were even Cardassian in origin, even if they were part of a technique given to her by another species!

Nerys Ghemor wrote: View Post
But I'm not sure mine could stop sensing emotions without taking drugs or having invasive surgery.
Some people could claim that Zamarran has no emotions to sense
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Old June 12 2011, 03:11 AM   #225
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Re: ST: Shaping a Cardassian - "Strength Without Sacrifice is Useless"

Aha...now that surprised me that Fatret would ask about Jarol's attitudes towards humans. That really does make me feel like your Cardassians are changing, if this medic would approach potential racism as a negative attitude and a resentment that has to be set aside.

(And boy, does this play into what we're discussing in private.)

That broken mirror worries me...now that she's gotten these cuts once, it makes me worry she could go into more deliberate self-harm to try and punish herself, like Gul Brenok does. (Of course, he doesn't cut himself, but he does self-harm.) She has a lot of healing to do and things to atone for--but that's not the way.

I hope, though, that eventually her condoning the massacre after she was held prisoner will come out. That was one of her cruelest moments of evil.

If Karama goes to Cardassia, sorry to say...I hope it will be after his "father" is too weak to strike him. One comment is very telling, though--that it's his father's enemies who need protection, and his father's friends who are threats.

I also thought it was interesting that Karama seems to be absorbing a belief in Karama!

As for Aladar...I liked what he said to Ensign Tibaut--the accusation that these scientists were not only cruel enough to watch the Rathosians die, but also cruel enough to claim to be against the death penalty (as the Federation claims) but leave them to die while washing their hands of their indirect execution. Somehow, I think that fits the hypocrisy of people like that scientist commander, and people like Picard.

Maybe, maybe these younger scientists will act, now that their commander has refused to surrender the Cardassians. Otherwise, Zamarran might have to send down troops, and it'll end up devolving into an old-fashioned Federation vs. Cardassian fight, replete with all the usual stereotypes.
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