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Old March 5 2011, 06:28 AM   #106
Gul Re'jal
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Location: Gul Re'jal is suspecting she's on the wrong space station
Re: ST: Shaping a Cardassian - "Strength Without Sacrifice is Useless"

Seems like more Cardassians were a bit luckier.

I have pretty good idea what the other religion was...I just struggle with finding a name for it. I will need it for this very story.
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Old March 13 2011, 03:01 AM   #107
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Re: ST: Shaping a Cardassian - "Strength Without Sacrifice is Useless"

Episode 3

Chapter 1


CUW Damar
09:34 hours




Gul Brenok was in his office, sitting in his chair and looking at a very young Cardassian on the other side of the desk. I was never that young, he thought, knowing very well that he had been and what kind of huge responsibility had been placed on his shoulders when he had been not much older than twenty-nine years old new medic.

“So, Medic Nerot, what is your speciality?” he asked his new officer.

“Neurology, Gul.” Kara Nerot had come aboard as a replacement for late Medic Boreep. He was young, eager and never set his foot on Cardassia Prime or any other planet of the core system. From his file, Brenok had learnt that Nerot hailed from one of oldest colonies of the Hebitian Republic and it indeed was obvious in the young man’s demeanour and speech. The colony—the third world colonised by the Hebitians—was old enough and separated from Cardassia Prime for sufficiently long period for its inhabitants to develop significant cultural differences. Brenok thought it would be refreshing—and most likely funny at times—to have this Cardassian aboard.

“And you have graduated the Secondary Military Academy.”

“That be correct.” Lack of conjugation of ‘to be’ was the first thing he noticed about the language differences. But who he was to judge; his own heavy Lakarian accent and ‘outdated’ vocabulary caused appearance of more than one smile on people’s faces.

“And you studied at two medical faculties.” Brenok raised his eyes from a padd from which he had read the data and looked at Nerot. “Are you some kind of genius?”

“I don’t know that, Gul,” he replied seriously and then added with a small grin, “But I try.”

The gul laughed and then he felt that something changed. The thrum of engines intensified and the deck under his boots started to vibrate differently. He looked out of the window and realised the Damar entered warp.

“What a...?” He rose from the chair and headed for the door to go out to the bridge to chastise whoever dared to change the speed without even informing him, let alone asking.

He arrived to the door that opened but instead of going out to the bridge, he was pushed back in by Glinn Karama. Mutiny? was Brenok’s first thought, no matter how ridiculous it seemed. He saw no other explanation.

“Out!” Karama barked to Nerot who immediately left. “Something has happened on Rayak Nor,” Karama said to the gul. Brenok closed his mouth and decided to listen; he hoped Karama had a good explanation for being rude to the new medic. “There was an attempt of assassination.”

The gul’s heart sank in his chest and a second later it started to beat fast and loudly—he was sure his aide could hear the noise through his armour. His mind started to work: there was only one person aboard the station that could have drawn enough attention and whose death would have enough meaning to risk infiltrating Rayak Nor. Still, he hoped he was wrong for he knew he could not bear any more tragedies and deaths in his family.

“Who?”

“Jarol,” the glinn whispered, his voice slightly trembling.

“How is she?” The word ‘attempt’ meant that the assassination was not successful, correct? Correct?! Please, please...

“I don’t know.”

Brenok pushed the glinn out of his way and rushed to the bridge. Karama followed him. “We’re already on our way to the station, best speed,” he informed his gul.

“Get me anyone on the station,” Brenok demanded, sitting in his chair.

He hoped that someone would tell him that nothing bad had happened, that it had been just an attempt and it had failed. He hoped to see Atira’s face on the screen, telling him that it had been close but no one had been hurt, except for the sloppy assassin.

The True Way? What would they want from her now, after she was no longer in politics, after she withdrew to a point that wasn’t even advising anyone?

“I can’t contact the station,” Gil Tari reported.

“What?! Why?” Something was wrong, something was very, very wrong.

“After we had received the partial message about the bombing, all communication from the station seized. I think it’s some kind of dampening field.” He turned to look at Brenok. “I also think that this dampening field causes the message to reach us incomplete. The activation of the field truncated the message.”

Brenok felt frustration pulling his face features. He breathed the air out loudly and looked at Ya’val. “How much more can we make?”

“Without falling apart? Maybe up to warp nine point seven but not for too long. We’d have to slow down after twenty, twenty-five minutes.”

“Helm, do what he says.” It wouldn’t take longer than thirty minutes to reach the station. For the first time Brenok regretted that the Mar’kuu class was built to fight, not to race. “Communication, keep trying to contact the station.”

Both officers acknowledged their orders.

She couldn’t be dead, she couldn’t, she just couldn’t. He was ordering her to be alive.



CUW Radalar
09:42 hours



“Helm, change course for Rayak Nor,” Toral ordered. He ignored Korel’s asking look, but the glinn didn’t want to give up, obviously, as he approached his gul.

He leaned toward his commanding officer and quietly said, “Sir, shouldn’t we continue our patrol? We can’t leave this part of space unprotected, especially after the build-up of the Klingon fleet that had been detected two weeks ago.” Toral shot his aide a glance that could kill. “Shouldn’t we at least consult with Gul Brenok?” Korel bravely looked in his gul’s angry eyes.

To hell with Brenok, Toral wanted to yell. “We will proceed to Rayak Nor, maximum warp,” he hissed through his clenched teeth. “Inform other patrol ships and order them to regroup to fill the gap.”

“Yes, sir.”

Toral knew it was not wise, he knew it could—and most likely would—cost him his career but he didn’t care. He had to know what happened, he had to know who killed her and why. And then he would gut that murderer alive to show him the stone in his chest instead of the heart.

“I can’t reach the station to confirm it, sir,” Yamuc reported. “They seem to have a communication blackout.” He studied his display. “No, I take that back. It’s a dampening field.”

“A dampening field?” Toral repeated. “Is someone trying to prevent us from contacting the station?”

“I would appear so, sir.”

“Why?” Yamuc only shook his head. “Keep trying,” Toral said. “I want to know what’s going on.”

Maybe it was not the end yet. Maybe there was hope. Maybe the message was damaged because of the field and it didn’t really say that she had been killed.

If she were alive, he would go to her and tell her. He would tell her everything; he would tell her that she was beautiful, he would tell her that she was for him like a forest nymph in a desert, like a drop of water in a long dry season, a safe shelter during a sand storm, the air in vacuum of outer space. He would go to her with another box of chocolates in one hand and his heart in the other one and he would tell her that there was no other than her for him. He would beg for her good word and crawl at her feet, asking for a smile. He would court her, yes, he would find courage to do that and he wouldn’t stop until she’d tell him to go to hell or accept him.

If she only would still be alive.

But everything seemed to indicate that it was too late for that...

“Tassar, what are you muttering there?” he asked, seeing that his helm officer’s mouth kept moving, although he couldn’t hear anything. Did the glinn silently comment his orders? His wrong orders? Yes, he knew what he was doing right now was a career suicide but he didn’t care. There were more important things in life than a gul’s chair.

“I’m praying, sir,” Tassar replied.

“Oh.” That was not an answer Toral expected to hear. He knew Lorrun was an elementalist, he heard ‘gods-who-are-not’ from his mouth too many times not to know, but Tassar? Elementalists didn’t pray, so the glinn had to be an Oralian. “Please, continue,” he said softer.

At this point he would accept help from anyone, even a deity in whom he did not believe.



CUW Damar
10:02 hours



Brenok managed not to ask ‘how much longer?’ but it was getting harder with each minute. He felt his frustration growing and hoped it wouldn’t reach the point where he would start taking it on his crew. It was not their fault that the space was too big, or the warship too slow, or the station too far.

Karama reported something about the Radalar regrouping their patrol schedule but Brenok didn’t really listen. Does it make me a bad gul? he wondered. Does it make me weak that I forget about everything for one person? He turned to his aide. “Why do they regroup? Any trouble there?”

Karama shook his head. “No, sir. Toral’s ship abandoned its post and heads for the station. They need to fill the void he left.”

Brenok knew he should be irritated. Toral had a lot of freedom in his actions but he could at least inform him... Didn’t he just do that? Inform him? After the fact, obviously.

He loved her. Somehow this rang louder in Brenok’s mind than abandoned duty. He loved her more than his career and he cared about her more than about his duties. Maybe that’s why Brenok wasn’t angry with him—he could perfectly understand Toral’s feelings and his actions. Wasn’t he himself leaving everything and going to her? His crew knew he would do exactly that and Karama had given orders that he would issue himself once he would learn about the assassination.

“Coming out of warp, sir,” Gil Tosen reported.

“Can you hail the station?” Brenok asked Tari but before the communication officer answered, Dole activated the main viewer.

“Oh, gapgar!” the tactician exclaimed.

Brenok turned sharply to him to remind him that he would not accept such language on the bridge, but he caught something with the corner of his eye. Instead of chastising Dole, he glanced at the screen and the first thing he wanted to do was to use the same curse his officer had used a moment earlier.

“Shields!!!” he yelled.

He was just about to see in practice how well was his warship built.



CUW Radalar
10:23 hours




Toral was grateful to have Korel at his side. The glinn had sent a report to Brenok, informing the gul of their regrouping. He had made sure the report had been received and acknowledged. Toral doubted it would mean anything, he didn’t believe it would save his career—rather advance Korel’s—but he wouldn’t do anything differently. No more regrets, no more hesitation, it’s time to do, even if it was belated.

“We’re out of warp,” Tassar reported.

“Can you hail the station?” Toral asked Yamuc.

“Sir, look at this,” Yamuc said quickly and activated the screen.

Toral first reaction was shouting, “Shields!” and then, turning to Lorrun, “How many?”

“I count two Vor’cha class and one Negh’Var class.” The tactician’s fingers ran over his console. “The Damar is getting some beating but their shield still hold. The station’s shields are at fifty percent.” He paused for a moment. “It’s also possible that there is more of them, cloaked.”

“Tassar, can you get me the Damar?” Toral looked at his officer.

“Negative, gul. The dampening field is still active.”

“Lorrun, arm weapons,” Toral said. Then, he added quietly. “We’re going in...”
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Old March 13 2011, 03:02 AM   #108
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Re: ST: Shaping a Cardassian - "Strength Without Sacrifice is Useless"


CUW Damar
10:25 hours




“Sir!” Karama shouted not raising his head from his console. “The Radalar just came out of warp!”

“It’s good when a Cardassian is in love,” Brenok muttered, ignoring his aide’s asking look. “I assume you can’t hail them either.” His words were directed to Tari; he was sure the dampening field didn’t cover only the station but this region of space, rendering both Cardassian warships’ communication systems useless.

“Negative.”

“This will make co-ordinating our battle patterns interesting.” Brenok knew it wasn’t funny, he knew. “Dole, concentrate on those thin necks of theirs. If they are stupid enough to build ships with such obvious weak points, let’s use it.” ‘Stupid’ as opposed to not-at-all-vulnerable bridge section of a Galor, Brenok thought bitterly with irony.

The Mar’kuu class had never been tested in a real battle before. It was a massive warship, armed to teeth with most of its power consumption intended for the shields and armament. Was it enough to beat a Negh’Var? The Cardassians were just about to learn.

“The fighters are out,” Dole reported, informing Brenok that his earlier order was just executed.

“Good. Keep the Klingons busy and irritated.”



IKV KoQ’suH
09:16 hours



Captain Klesh wasn’t a patient man. He waited for the signal. And waited. And waited. And waited even longer, he waited endlessly. He could clearly see the Cardassian petaQ station on his main viewer and impatiently shifted in his command chair. Waiting was worth of a Romulan, not a Klingon warrior. They should attack, now. What were they waiting for?

He knew what for. Another Romulan-worthy trick—kill the station’s commander and then attack it, when the station is in chaos. Whose idea was it, anyway? Did they think he was so incapable that he needed havoc on the station to capture or destroy it? On the contrary, he wished he could have everything in perfect condition, if only to prove that the Cardassians were honour-less and weak petaQ. He spat and growled.

Still, it would be a glorious battle.

“My lord, we have detected an explosion as planned,” reported his weapons officer.

“Activate the communication dampening field,” Klesh said. “Don’t let them call any reinforcements.”

The three warships under his command were enough to destroy this Cardassian wheel of a human child’s bicycle, but Klesh was not stupid—he knew even Klingon warships were not a match for a whole Cardassian Order and there was one patrolling this region, including their flagship.

“Contact the other warships!” he barked to his communication officer. “Assume formation kUch’kog and prepare to drop the cloak!”

“I obey, my lord.”

His Negh’Var, the KoQ’suH, moved slowly to face the station. One of its pylons seemed to target the vessel and Klesh had an impression that it was a horn that tried to pierce his ship. He knew the other two ships, IKV Lok’marH and IKV sOopot, would take positions slightly below his vessel, flanking it from both sides. He planned to take down one of shields of the station and then keep firing at the exposed ring and pylon until they would explode with a satisfying boom!

His weapons officer nodded, which meant that the other two ships were in position, so Klesh hissed, “Decloak!”

Blood in his veins was replaced by adrenaline. It’s been too long since he had been in a battle, it’s been too long since he could serve his empire and destroy its enemies, it’s been too long since he drew some Cardassian blood. He stood up, excited, his greying hair swaying over his shoulders when he turned his head to his officers to issue orders.

“Concentrate fire on the connection between the pylon directly in front of us and the ring. Order the sOopot to attack the pylon and the Lok’marH to attack their turrets. We need to penetrate their shields to inflict any significant damage and we need to do it fast.” He was certain he could win but he was no fool, he did not underestimate his enemy. He knew that as long as the station’s shields were up, his small fleet was at tactical disadvantage. Not forgetting that undoubtedly the Cardassians would eventually detect the weapons fire and send reinforcements.

The KoQ’suH shook under Cardassian weapons fire and the Klingon captain rejoiced. This was going to be a glorious battle, worthy of a song and a few barrels of blood wine.



Rayak Nor
09:52 hours




I’m merely an engineer, I’m merely an engineer
, Zamarran kept thinking, running to the tactical centre. The sound of his heavy boots was accompanied by dozens of other, as the whole station was at tactical alert and everyone, who was not there yet, was rushing to their posts. The gul pressed his wristcomm. “Demok, where are you?”

On my way to the infirmary,” replied the sub-archon.

“Negative. Gather every civilian and take them to the panic room!”

They are already there, only Captain Ronus refused to join.

Perfect, what Zamarran needed right now was a stubborn Federation officer to deal with. “You should be there too.”

No way!
“Demok, you can’t help her!”

A beep of closed channel was the only reply he received. He muttered a mild curse but continued to his initial destination.

The tactical centre was busier than the command centre at any normal day. Garesh Dalar stood at the big tactical table in the pit and issued orders with his strong, deep voice. He didn’t waste time to call names, he pointed to the direction of an officer and told him or her what to do. Zamarran was relieved to see that the station’s defence was in good hands.

“Don’t waste torpedoes,” Dalar shouted. “The Klingons will not give up easily so we must have enough to take them down. It’s either us or them and we have no option to run. We have to destroy them or they will destroy us!”

On the other side of the table, opposite Dalar, stood Ronus. The Trill studied the display with a deep frown on his face. Zamarran had no idea why the captain chose to join them here. He didn’t expect Ronus to help the Cardassians; after all, the Klingons were the Federation’s ally and he could not fight against them. So what was he doing here? Hopefully, there would be a chance to ask him that later, as now it was not the time.

The gul joined Dalar at the table and looked at the display.

“Sir, we have three Klingon warships,” Dalar reported. “One Negh’Var and two Vor’cha class. There is no way to call for reinforcements as they use some sort of dampening field and we’re cut out from everyone.” Zamarran nodded, acknowledging. He decided to leave the tactical command in Dalar’s capable hands and take care of the dampening field himself.



IKV KoQ’suH
10:09 hours




“My lord!” Klesh looked at his weapons officer annoyed; why did that man sound so scared? “A ship just dropped out of warp!” The Klingon looked at his captain. “It’s the Mar’kuu class.”

So, the battle was just about to become more challenging. Klesh smiled. But then he realised something. “How did the station call for help?” he asked, turning to his communication officer.

The man shook his head. “I do not know. The dampening field is still active and appears to work within parameters.”

“Obviously, your ‘parameters’ are not sufficient!” Klesh growled, grasping his chair’s armrests not to fall out after another violent shake Cardassian torpedoes caused. The mysterious Mar’kuu class. The captain wondered is the ship was as dangerous as it appeared or the Cardassians counted on the intimidation without a real bite. “Tell both Vor’cha ships to keep attacking the station, we will dance with this girl.”

“It’s their flagship, sir.”

“Even better,” Klesh growled, showing his spike-y teeth in a smile.



Rayak Nor
10:25 hours




Garesh Aladar joined the commanding team at the tactical table in the pit of the tactical centre.

“Where have you been?” Dalar barked to him.

“Convincing Demok to enter the panic room, Garesh.”

“How did you convince him?” Zamarran glanced at the non-com.

“I used an argument difficult to argue with.” Aladar looked at his right hand, stretched his fingers and clenched them into a fist only to stretch them again. “The bruise should be gone within a few days.”

Zamarran only shook his head but didn’t comment and Aladar was grateful. Even if later he would have to face some consequences for striking a civilian, he had done his duty and made sure that particular civilian was where he should be—in a save capsule that should withstand a possible destruction of the station. He would not fail in his duty of protection ever again.

“Another one,” Captain Ronus pointed to a new spot with Cardassian markings that had just appeared on the tactical table.

“It’s the Radalar,” Dalar informed the Trill.

“How do they know?” Ronus asked, then turned to Zamarran who worked at the main engineering console. “Did you manage to punch through the field?”

Zamarran only shook his head, not interrupting issuing orders to Kapoor who worked just next to him.

No one seemed to bother to answer the Trill’s question and Aladar wouldn’t dare to do something that his superiors didn’t. Not that he knew; he suspected that the Damar had arrived after Gul Brenok had learned about the assassination attempt, but the Radalar? Did Brenok call Toral to join him? But why? Perhaps, however unlikely it seemed, they had detected the fight and came to protect the station.

If not the busy soldiers, Aladar would never guess they were under attack. The tactical centre was so deep in the guts of the massive station that it barely trembled under enemy fire. The garesh glanced at Zamarran, thanking him in his thoughts for designing such an efficient construction.



CUW Damar
10:48 hours




Brenok was sitting on the edge of his command chair, leaned forward. His braid slid into his armour and long black strands found their way out of the neatly braided hair. He kept blowing them away each time they fell in front of his nose. He could hear Gil Tosen growling under her breath each time the Damar made a turn. “A problem, Gil?” he asked her.

She shook her head. “No, sir.”

“Gil?” If she had a problem, they all had a problem.

She sighed. “We’re just so frustratingly slow.” He felt that too—the Mar’kuu class lacked Galor’s manoeuvrability.

“Imagine you dance with a very fat legate and keep us away from walls.” A legate that also tried to jump uncontrollably. That was the part Brenok hated most about battles: the constant shaking, exploding consoles behind his back, noise...all those things were terribly distracting and annoying.

She chuckled. “I’ll try, sir.”

Brenok turned to Dole. “Status of the enemy ship.” He feared to ask about his own, especially casualties. Bad news wouldn’t help him concentrate.

“The Negh’Var’s shields are holding but for not much longer. They have to stand our and the station’s attack.”

“How are we?” Brenok asked.

“Shields still holding but they concentrated on our ventral side. Only ten percent left there.”

“The Radalar?”

“They concentrate on the other two Klingon ships. They seem to be doing well, but—” Dole silenced. “Their forward port shield is down.”

Brenok turned to look at the screen. Toral’s warship indeed looked like a fat, drunk legate that tried to turn and lean against a stable wall. It was obvious that the Radalar attempted to hide its now vulnerable side by turning it to face the station. The Klingons would have to approach the ship from the other side and move nearer Rayak Nor to take advantage of Toral’s weakness, however nearing to the station would be too dangerous for them and they couldn’t risk it. The enemy must have come to the same conclusion as their attack intensified; they seemed to be determined to inflict as much damage as possible before Toral would hide his hull from their fire power. Brenok knew there was no way he could help Toral.
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Old March 13 2011, 03:04 AM   #109
Gul Re'jal
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Location: Gul Re'jal is suspecting she's on the wrong space station
Re: ST: Shaping a Cardassian - "Strength Without Sacrifice is Useless"


Hideki Attack Fighter Drav
10:50 hours



Garesh Tarub observed his display, trying to co-ordinate all attack fighters not to let chaos take over the operation. He had divided his small fleet to three groups, each with a different task. The first one was to keep the Klingons busy; they rained torpedoes and phaser fire at the enemy warships. The second one was to target and destroy Klingon torpedoes before they reached their targets. The last one was to offer supporting fire for the Damar.

However, seeing how the situation progressed, be decided that the Damar would have to stay on its own for a while.

“Sopar,” he said to his co-pilot not taking his eyes from the display, “Order our team to move to the forward port side of the Radalar. Their shields are down.”

Chari!” Garesh Sopar confirmed the order and then relayed it to the other fighters.



CUW Radalar
10:58 hours




Lorrun forgot about the fear long time ago. He had no idea that one was not afraid in the heat of a battle, he had thought one would be very scared just right then. He hadn’t even shielded his head when tertiary tactical console had exploded over him. He had barely noticed that it had. “Gul!” he shouted to draw Toral’s attention. “Shields of one of Vor’chas are fluctuating.”

“Concentrate fire on that ship!” Toral ordered.

Lorrun’s fingers entered necessary commands. If they’d take down this ship, there would be one less to fight. Tassar tried to keep the unshielded side of the Radalar away from the enemy and Lorrun was grateful for attack fighters that helped to defend it.

“Tassar, if you’re trying to protect out weak spot, forget about it.” Toral’s voice had a growling note. Initially, Lorrun had thought that it was anger targeted at the officers, who were not meeting Toral’s standards of performance, but he had quickly realised that Toral had entered a ‘battle mode’ and that was the reason why his demeanour changed so significantly. “We need to use the opportunity and destroy that ship. It’s not the time to play cautious.”

“Yes, Gul,” Tassar said.

“Lorrun, inform Jabat of incoming casualties.”

“Yes, Gul.” Lorrun nodded and contacted the chief medic. It sounded terribly, awfully cold—there were no casualties yet but Toral already expected people to be injured and die. So cold, so calm, such a disregard for lives of his own soldiers. After a short moment he realised that his judgement was unfair; Toral wanted to make sure Jabat was ready to receive wounded and to start to act immediately to save lives. The young tactician’s cheeks grew hot with shame. It only reminded him how inexperienced he was.

He concentrated on his work. He scanned the Klingon ship, trying to find its weakest shield and target most of the fire at that spot. Maybe he’d get lucky.



CUW Damar
11:17 hours




Brenok observed the screen, his eyes not leaving Toral’s warship. The Radalar fought its own battle with one of Vor’cha ships and was taking quite a beating. It was clear even without computer assisted detailed readings that some of Radalar’s shields were down and enemy fire was reaching and piercing the hull. Brenok wished he could help but he knew he had his own problem—the huge Negh’Var. At least, Toral’s opponent wasn’t in much better shape than the Cardassian warship.

“Gul Brenok!” Dole’s voice was higher than Brenok ever heard. “Rayak Nor’s shields are down! All of them!”

Brenok growled. “Concentrate on the Negh’Var, they are a bigger threat.” He believed that the Klingon mini-fleet was coordinated from the biggest ship. Hopefully, after destroying it the other two would be easier targets. He sighed; he didn’t really believe it would make a difference.



CUW Radalar
11:12




Toral wished he could stand up and issue orders on his feet but he knew keeping balance on his falling apart bridge under constant attack would be completely impossible. So he kept sitting in his chair, the arm-rests in his strong grip, as keeping balance even in the chair was not much easier than standing, and yelled orders trying to be louder than the surrounding noise.

He had already made a decision: if there would be no other choice and his ship would be failing, he would order to ram the Klingon Vor’cha. He would do everything to protect the station and one enemy ship less should help Brenok and whoever commanded the defence of Rayak Nor. She was dead but he’d rather die than let anyone kill her only child. This was personal for him; he didn’t know if it was wrong or not, he didn’t know if it made him a bad Cardassian that he cared more about one woman and one young man than the whole Union, but that was how he felt.

Smog filled the bridge and his eyes watered. It seemed that the filtering systems were offline. Perfect. What he needed now was suffocating bridge crew. He realised Lorrun was not at his post; he quickly left his chair and ran to the tactical station to see the young glinn scrambling to his feet. The tactician’s left hand was burnt.

“Report to the infirmary,” Toral ordered.

“I can’t.” Lorrun shook his head. “I will not leave my post.”

“You’re useless with only one hand, go to the infirmary. I’ll take tactical.” Lorrun still hesitated. “Go!” Toral shouted and the glinn reluctantly left the bridge.

One glance at the main tactical console was enough to see that it was totally fried. The gul turned to the secondary one. He quickly ran a basic check-up to see if everything was operational and then concentrated on his work.

It’s been over twenty years since the last time he operated weapons. It felt like it was yesterday...



Rayak Nor
11:16




Dalar could only imagine what was happening in the outer ring of the station. He knew that the outer ring—the weapons ring—had double plating and additional shielding, but he also knew that after a prolonged attack every construction, no matter how durable, would start to fall apart. The calmness of the tactical centre wouldn’t fool him—there was hell in the other parts of the station, especially the sectors most exposed to the attack.

“Dalar, we’ll lose our shields any moment!” Zamarran warned him.

The garesh was impressed that the shields stood that long. “Prepare for being boarded!” he shouted and a second later he heard Aladar relaying the same information through general comm to all troops. Dalar knew he already lost and was going to lose a lot of good soldiers. Too many soldiers. He also knew it was barely the beginning. The Klingons didn’t attack just to stretch their warrior muscles, they wouldn’t withdraw and say ‘oops, sorry, just playing.’

Purple markings around the station’s representation on the tactical display disappeared. The shields were gone. Dalar wondered if the Klingons would choose to board and take the station, or destroy it to make their point. He could see on the display that the Radalar was as defenceless as the station, as its shields were also down. The garesh admired Gul Toral’s bravery—he did not stop fighting, he did not slow down, he did not attempt to withdraw; he took all torpedoes in and kept answering with his own.

Aladar moved closer to him. “All sectors report that the Klingons are not boarding,” he said.

So destruction was their plan, then. He looked at the display, seeing that the Negh’Var was dividing its attention between the station and the Damar. He considered that a tactical error on the Klingon captain’s part and didn’t intend to let the opportunity go. “Concentrate the attack on the biggest ship,” he said to Aladar, who would replay the order to the weapons ring. He continued without a pause, even seeing that the symbol representing one of the Vor’chas, the one that fought the Radalar, went blank.

“One down, two to go,” he heard Aladar commenting and couldn’t stop his small grin. He liked that garesh. At first he had thought that Aladar was too soft for this job, but he quickly understood that softness shouldn’t be mistaken for weakness. Aladar was smarter than many officers and Dalar comprehended why Jarol and Brenok had fought over him about two weeks earlier. She had won and with her, Dalar too, as Aladar joined his troops as his right hand. A very skilled right hand.

“Concentrate the phaser fire at their shields and target our torpedoes at their weapons systems,” Dalar ordered. “Sections Atch and Besh, attack the Negh’Var, sections Desh and Cha target the remaining Vor’cha.” Each section was in fact a quarter of the tactical ring.

Chari!” Aladar confirmed and relayed.

Dalar eyed Aladar’s black armour. You certainly deserve golden markings, he thought, meaning the golden colour on the seams of armour that was a privilege of the best of the best among troops. And you’ll have them...if we survive this, he added. If any non-com here deserved an honour of becoming a member of the Damar Guard, then it was Garesh Aladar.



IKV KoQ’suH
11:17 hours




Klesh listened to his warriors’ singing with pleasure. They had a right to express their satisfaction, they had deserved that right. The station, now without shields, was ready for destruction; the other two Cardassian ships meant nothing.

“Target their ops,” he ordered. Whoever was in command there, his skills seemed to be as good as the killed gul’s, but it didn’t matter any longer. The victory was one step closer.

“My lord! The Lok’marH structural integ—” The weapons officer didn’t finish. He didn’t have to. The song faded, replaced by a howl of anger. Brave warriors found their way to Sto’Vo’Kor and joined the greatest heroes of the Klingon Empire. They had nothing to be ashamed of, the Cardassians occurred to be a formidable opponent and dying at their hands was no shame. However, their station would be the price Klesh wanted them to pay. The captain didn’t know if the Cardassians had any Sto’Vo’Kor to go to after their deaths, but he intended to send as many of them there as possible.

The beaten Cardassian warship that had destroyed the Lok’marH slowly turned and faced the remaining two Klingon vessels. Klesh realised that both Mar’kuus targeted him and the station concentrated its fire on the sOopot.

He had thought he hadn’t underestimated his enemy but he started to doubt that judgement. It seemed that the Mar’kuu class had teeth and could bite your head off if you weren’t careful. No one in the Klingon Empire knew how many warships of that class the Cardassians had, but Klesh was sure of one thing—a fleet of such ships would be a serious threat for the Empire, should the Cardassians ever attempt to attack.

He looked at the screen. The sOopot’s left nacelle was struck be a volley of torpedoes and exploded. Captain Rotok had no longer any other choice than stay and fight till the end; not that Klesh expected this brave warrior to cowardly retreat. Small Cardassian vessels were circling the Vor’cha like flies around rotten piece of meat. Small explosions all over the ship were the best proof that the shields were down and one well-targeted torpedo would annihilate the warship. The Cardassians didn’t wait long: the flies moved away and one of station’s turrets fired a single ball of death. It reached the Klingon ship’s engineering section, punched through the hull and exploded somewhere near the warp core, taking the whole vessel with it. Sto’Vo’Kor will welcome more warriors this day. His warriors.

“My lord! They have destroyed one of our communication turrets!”

“Which one?” Klesh turned to his communication officer. He expected the worst.

“The one that supported the dampening field.” So it was over. They could call for reinforcements...not that they needed any. “We are being hailed.” His officer’s voice was full of surprise.

“On screen.”

He saw a Cardassian gul who wore a half-silver, half-black uniform. His hair was kept in almost Klingon manner: long strands hung on both sides of his reptile face.

This is Gul Brenok of the Cardassian Union Warship Damar,” he said. “Withdraw now or be destroyed.

Klesh preferred the latter. He said nothing. The Cardassian gul, Klesh wouldn’t call him petaQ any longer, seemed to wait for his reply. Fine. “A Klingon warrior never withdraws,” he said.

I suggest you do it anyway. And take this message to your chancellor: this action will not remain without a response.

Was the Cardassian threatening him? Warning him? Klesh’s failure in destroying the station would be the best proof of Cardassian strength, he didn’t have to bring shame upon himself and his warriors by running away like a Ferengi.

He looked to his weapons officer. “Target their bridge.” He had no idea where on this warship was the bridge, they didn’t have enough intelligence on this new class; he also knew his officer didn’t know that either, but it didn’t matter any longer.

Don’t do this,” the Cardassian said and Klesh had an impression the gul’s face expressed regret.

“I have to, Gul Brenok.” He paused and then said, “Fire.”

The image on the viewer shook slightly but Klesh knew no real damage was inflicted to the enemy ship. The gul’s hand went to his right ear, he slid it under his long hair, rubbed the ear and then stood up. “Dole, target their warp core.”

Klesh almost said ‘thank you.’ Someone behind him intoned a battle song, another voice joined and after a moment the whole bridge sang.



CUW Damar
11:34 hours



“Damn it,” Brenok muttered under his breath, sitting back in his chair. “Damn it, damn it, damn it.”

He tried to convince himself it was the right thing to do. He tried to hate that other commander, he tried to recall the terrible bat’leth falling toward his head, the pain of his ear and the neck ridge when the bat’leth had been slicing through them, but it didn’t help. It wasn’t a death in battle, it was an execution.

However, what scared him most was what that attack meant for the Union.

“Dock at the station,” he said, leaving his chair. “I’ll be there too,” he told Karama, passing by him. Seeing his aide’s look he stopped and said, “Ya’val, take command and coordinate the repairs schedule with Zamarran.”

Karama smiled and thanked with a single nod. Brenok knew he couldn’t go to find Demok to make sure the sub-archon was all right and deny Karama the same right regarding the aide’s wife. They left the bridge together.



tbc
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Old March 13 2011, 03:53 AM   #110
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Re: ST: Shaping a Cardassian - "Strength Without Sacrifice is Useless"

Ahhh, so it really was the Klingons! In some ways, this sneaky tactic reminds me of the TOS Klingons. I am amazed you didn't make a Federation terrorist guilty for it. But...this does make me wonder if perhaps the Klingons are also responsible for Mazita. I had never thought their biotech could be up to something like that, but it's possible if they're becoming that sneaky. That or they are in collusion with someone else. And now I'm back to Federation terrorists.

Toral's love for Jarol is very touching--as is his willingness to allow the Oralian officer to continue praying on the bridge. Even in a terrible situation, something like that serves as an example for everyone with him.

I also like the perspective on Aladar's character, both his intelligence and his personality.

As for what Ronus is doing...I have a hunch about it. If it's what I think it is, I hope it has some major political ramifications.

As for Brenok...wow. I am amazed that he was actually able to develop a sort of "respect" for the Klingon commander. I would never have expected that; I thought Cardassians placed value on revenge. Not in the same sense of a Klingon blood oath, of course, but still.
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Old March 13 2011, 04:14 AM   #111
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Re: ST: Shaping a Cardassian - "Strength Without Sacrifice is Useless"

Brenok...Well, he surprised me. He hates the Klingons, he hates them for what one of them had done to him, but he didn't want to destroy this ship--not this way. (Initially I planned Klesh to leave alive and something else happen to him later, but he didn't seem like a type that runs away. He was not a coward.)

As for Toral, I think he didn't realise how much he loved her and how much he cared until that moment, until he lost her.

Ronus's choice? Brenok will ask him directly.
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Old March 13 2011, 05:12 AM   #112
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Re: ST: Shaping a Cardassian - "Strength Without Sacrifice is Useless"

Do you think maybe he thought it would make him like a Klingon, who had no compunctions about slaughtering old men and walking wounded at Septimus III?
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Old March 13 2011, 05:46 AM   #113
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Re: ST: Shaping a Cardassian - "Strength Without Sacrifice is Useless"

I didn't think about Septimus III, but yes, I think he didn't like to "lower" himself to a level of someone who kills defenceless people, even Klingons. He wouldn't want to become what he despises. And Klesh was no match for two warships and the station after the other Klingon ships were gone. Brenok didn't like 100% casualties. Winning the battle would be enough, but wiping out every single person was too much. He won't lose any sleep over this--they were warriors after all--but he didn't like it.
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Old March 13 2011, 06:12 AM   #114
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Re: ST: Shaping a Cardassian - "Strength Without Sacrifice is Useless"

Well...I know Septimus III doesn't have specific details in your universe, but it does in mine, and what the Klingons did there was horrific in Sigils. So it was the first thing to come to mind.
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Old March 13 2011, 06:44 AM   #115
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Re: ST: Shaping a Cardassian - "Strength Without Sacrifice is Useless"

I think my Septimus III situation was different from yours, but the canon fact is a fact--the massacre has happened.
For Brenok it's also very important not to blindly slaughter everyone because of the Lakarian City Massacre. That is deeply burnt in his mind and heart.
The Negh'Var didn't have to be destroyed. It was not necessary for the station's safety.
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Old March 13 2011, 06:57 AM   #116
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Re: ST: Shaping a Cardassian - "Strength Without Sacrifice is Useless"

That is a very good reason, too.
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Old March 21 2011, 06:13 AM   #117
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Re: ST: Shaping a Cardassian - "Strength Without Sacrifice is Useless"

Chapter 2



Rayak Nor
11:59




“Out of my way!” Demok pushed through, yelling. He was furious. Not only Aladar had knocked him out to force him into that damn panic pod, but also the speed of retrieval of the pod left a lot to be desired. He stormed into the infirmary. One of nurses pointed to a room deeper in the medical centre, so he ran there. He saw his mother laying on a biobed, her vital signs in chaos and Medic Albek leaning over her with a deep frown drawn on his face. “Mom? Mom?!”

“I told you to leave,” Albek muttered and Demok opened his mouth to protest, but someone else spoke.

“And I told you I wouldn’t go anywhere.” Just then the sub-archon noticed Gul Toral in a corner. The left side of the gul’s face had signs of mild burns and his armour was scorched. “I will keep out of your way but I will not leave,” Toral said in a tone of voice that would not allow any defiance.

“Albek?” Demok approached the biobed.

The medic turned to face the sub-archon. “Her wounds aren’t as bad as it could get. The problem is the head; the blow must have thrown her across the room and she hit her head against something hard. In addition, operating in battle conditions on a station under attack was not a simple task.”

“Prognosis?”

The medic looked the young man in the eye, shook his head and said quietly, “I don’t know.” He looked at Toral. “I’ll take care of those burns now.” He gestured, inviting the gul to another room of the infirmary, but Toral didn’t move. “Very well,” Albek sighed and left. He re-appeared with a medical device and started to tend to Toral’s wounds.

Demok pulled a stool and sat next to the biobed that Jarol lay on. He looked in his mother’s face and felt his eyes filling with tears. He barely registered what was going on around him.

He remembered the History of Tribunal classes at the university. There had been punishments that had been so severe, so pain inflicting that the Cardassians decided to remove them from the list of possible ways of punishing criminals. Demok remembered each and every example, including most horrible ones. He remembered that some of them had made him sick when he had been reading about them. Now, however, none of them seemed appropriate to what he would like to be done to the person that hurt him Mom. Everything seemed to be too mild.

He felt a hand gently squeezing his upper arm.



Rayak Nor
11:46




Brenok and Karama ran. They left their ship and proceeded to the station’s pole. Brenok could clearly see the damage that the attack had inflicted on the station, but he didn’t slow down and neither did Karama.

They reached the command centre and the gul heard a muffled sound leaving his aide’s mouth as Karama located his wife at an engineering station. He ran to her and in spite off everyone looking, hugged her. No one seemed to stare or comment. The family was everything and caring about it a natural thing.

Brenok heard steps behind him. Before he had time to turn and see who approached him, Zamarran’s voice said, “In the infirmary.”

Brenok turned to the engineer. “Morgue?” he asked in a shaking voice. He would give everything to hear ‘no.’

Zamarran only shook his head. Brenok didn’t wait for him to say anything else, he returned to the lift and returned to the pole.

He knew he should be in his office, preparing a report for the Central Command, but he also knew he wouldn’t be able to concentrate on anything until he knew what was her condition.

He was taken to one of rooms in the infirmary. Albek stood next to Toral and was moving a medical device over Toral’s facial wound. Demok sat on a stool. Jarol lay on a biobed, motionless, her eyes closed and her scales wearing signs of an explosion. Brenok approached Demok, put his hand on the sub-archon’s upper arm and tightened his fingers gently.

“Uncle?” Demok asked, not raising his head.

“How is she?” Brenok pulled another stool and sat next to Demok.

“Not good. She’s in a coma.”

At least, alive.

Brenok looked at Toral. The other gul shot a glance at Brenok and then his eyes returned to Jarol’s unmoving silhouette. The younger gul rose and approached the older one.

“You’ll have my resignation on your desk tomorrow,” Toral said, still not taking his eyes from the legate.

Brenok forgot what he wanted to say. He was too astonished by Toral’s words. “What? Why?!”

The older gul looked at him, blinking. “I assumed that’s what you wanted to tell me. I abandoned my post, I disobeyed orders, I ignored the chain of command. Enough to kick me out from the Guard, not only my position.”

Brenok inclined his head a little bit and smiled slightly. He had done exactly the same thing. Did it mean he should relieve himself of duty? “Actually, I wanted to ask how you feel,” he said. “Those burns...” He pointed to Toral’s face.

The other gul reached up and touched darkened scales. He pulled his face and looked surprised at his fingers, as if just now discovering that he had been injured. “I’m fine,” he said at length.

“Glad to hear that. You put up the hell of the fight for the Klingons.”

“I’m glad you destroyed that gapgar.”

A feeling of uneasiness washed through Brenok as he recalled the unpleasant feeling of destroying the Klingon Negh’Var. “He left me no choice,” he said quietly.

“Shame.” Toral’s voice was harsh. “I’d love to gut him alive.”

Brenok turned slightly to look at Jarol. “We have to find whoever did this,” he muttered.

“If I’m not relieved then I volunteer.”

“No—”

Toral’s head turned sharply. “No?!” he exclaimed, interrupting Brenok. “What do you mean ‘no?’”

“Both of us are too involved emotionally. We need an outsider. Colissa would be the first to tell you that.”

“To hell with her.”

“He’s right, Toral.” Demok didn’t move and was still turned to them with his back but his voice was loud enough for them to hear. “Every evidence that you would collect would be rejected as not sufficiently impartial. That also includes you, Uncle.”

Brenok nodded even though Demok couldn’t see it. “I know. That’s why I intend to call Gul Moddar.”

“Moddar!” Toral shouted.

“That’s right. He’s a good investigator.”

I want to do it,” the older gul hissed.

Brenok shook his head. “No. I understand you perfectly, but no.”

Toral shifted in place and his eyes returned to motionless Jarol. Brenok was just about to sit back on the stool when he saw Toral’s eye ridges going wider. His ears registered panicked “Mom!” in Demok’s voice.

Jarol was trashing on the biobed like a fish out of water. Taret and Albek materialised literally from nowhere with scanners in their hands. Nurse Rolkan pulled resisting Demok away, giving both medics more space.

“She’s still bleeding,” Albek growled. “We have to operate again.”

His words were enough for medical personnel to start acting. Brenok thought that the infirmary was like a mini-warship with its gul, officers and troops.

“What’s going on!” Demok’s voice wasn’t demanding information, it was pleading. However, his plea was not answered, as both medics were too busy.

“Gul Brenok, we need a neurologist, soon!” Taret shouted to the gul before disappearing in the operation room.

“I’ll send a request to Carda—” Brenok started but didn’t finish. Nerot, he thought. The new medic was very young but he was a neurologist. The gul pressed his wristcomm. “Nerot, report to the station’s infirmary. Yesterday!”

The reply came immediately. “Affirmative!



Rayak Nor
12:14




Archon Colissa walked to the infirmary, knowing that it was the place where she would find the sub-archon. She recovered from the shock of experiencing a battle and a civilian safety capsule and was again her resolute self. She was close enough to see the door to the infirmary, when the door opened and several people left the medical centre, Demok among them. She approached them, nodded polite greetings to two guls and looked at the young man between them.

“How is she?” she asked.

He shook his head. “Not good.”

Colissa looked at both soldiers and they understood her signal. They excused themselves and went their ways. She put her hand on Demok’s elbow and pulled him away toward the bulkhead.

“Sub-archon, do you need a few days off or would you prefer to be buried with work to keep your mind busy?” she asked.

He looked at her without comprehension in his eyes. “What?”

“I would give you a few days off, if you want them. However, I know I’d prefer to stay busy myself.”

“I don’t know,” he whispered.

Her heart ached. She didn’t like and didn’t respect Jarol, but she grew to like her son. Demok was a hard-working and a skilled young man and even if she was forced to accept him due to nepotism, she didn’t complain about it any longer. In fact, she thought that keeping this talented Cardassian on the station was hurting his future. On Cardassia he would have more career opportunities than on Rayak Nor. And now, watching him was breaking her heart. His mother, whatever she was like, was important to him. He was a filial son and Colissa valued that.

“What is her condition?” she asked.

“They operate. Again. Third time. Her brain was damaged.”

“My investigators are already on it,” Colissa said. “Of course you realise that you cannot be part of the tribunal in this case, but let me assure you: whoever did this, he or she will be punished.”

Demok gave her a blank stare. It doesn’t matter what I say, she thought. It doesn’t diminish his pain and worry.

She let go of his elbow. “You have two days off,” she said. “Please return to work a day after tomorrow.”

He didn’t nod, he didn’t do anything that would confirm he heard her. Before she realised what she was doing, her hand moved up and gently stroke his cheek. It didn’t take much to imagine her own son or grandson in pain. All children were so similar, so vulnerable.

She smiled to him and left. Walking back toward the turbolift, she turned her head to look at him. He still stood in the same place that she had left him. His eyes were glued to the infirmary door.



Rayak Nor
12:17




Brenok returned to the command centre. Passing by the engineering console, at which the chief engineer worked, he said, “Zamarran.” The engineer followed the gul to the office.

“Sir?” Zamarran asked.

“I’m taking command of Rayak Nor for the time being,” Brenok informed him. The relief on Zamarran’s face was very clear. “You will take care of repairs schedule. The station is priority, then take care of Toral’s warship. The Damar is at the end of the list. Employ Ya’val’s engineers if you don’t have enough.”

“Yes, sir.”

“Dismissed.” However, Zamarran didn’t leave. “Anything else?” Brenok asked him.

“How is she? I had no time to get down to the infirmary and check myself.”

“Bad. She’s got some brain damage and as far as I understand, her condition is not improving. Three medics are operating her as we speak.”

Zamarran shook his head. “This is so terrible. Who will lead the investigation to find the assassin?” he asked.

“I will contact Gul Moddar in a moment. I hope we have enough kanar on the station for his crew.”

Zamarran knitted his eyebrows. “I’m afraid I don’t follow.”

“Moddar is an ass and every ass-y gul’s crew drinks a lot. You never noticed that?”

“No, not really. I never drank and I don’t recall you doing that.”

“Have you even served under an ass-y gul?”

“No, not really. First it was Gul Corak, then Gul Jarol, then you.”

“Thank you.” Brenok’s face brightened for a second. “Well, not everyone is as lucky to serve under good guls. Some serve under Gul Moddars. And they relieve the stress in kanar.”

“I’d rather employ his crew for repairs.”

“Feel free to do that.”

Zamarran nodded and left the office.

Brenok sat at Jarol’s desk and sighed. He had to talk to Legate Ekoor too.



Rayak Nor
14:32




Demok paced in front of the closed door to the infirmary and almost jumped startled when the door finally slid open.

A young man left it; someone that Demok didn’t know. The man wore a medic outfit. “You be Sub-archon Demok?” he asked.

“I am.”

“Please come in. I have things to tell you.”

Demok followed him into the infirmary and then deeper, into a post-operation chamber. They stood by Jarol’s biobed—the sub-archon was relieved to see that she was still alive—and the young medic handed the lawyer a padd.

“Your mother in a coma, as her brain injuries be quite severe. There was-be haemorrhaging but we managed to stop it. Her condition critical, but stable.”

Demok had problems with following the medic’s words. The man’s grammar was...weird.

“What about the coma?” he asked.

The medic sighed. “It be a result of her brain injury. We cannot tell how serious it be regarding her abilities after she wakes up...if she wakes up.”

“You mean...you don’t know?” Some good news, please...Demok desperately needed something good.

“There be a threshold...If she doesn’t wake up within the next ten hours, it means her injuries severe. She may wake up after that—weeks, months or even years later—but most likely brain injury would be obvious in some of her functions, either intellectual or physical.”

“Oh, no,” Demok moaned.

“If she wakes up before that ‘deadline,’ she should be fine.”

“Are you able to determine what might happen?”

The medic shook his head. “Sorry, no. I don’t want to promise you things that don’t depend on me.”

“Can I stay with her?”

“Of course. There be nothing else we could do.”

Demok sat on a stool. He felt like he was just about to faint.



Rayak Nor
14:56




It had taken Brenok over two hours to explain to Legate Ekoor in detail what had happened on Rayak Nor. Ekoor had listened to the gul, rarely interrupting to ask questions. Then he had said that a special session of the Central Command would have to be called and had warned Brenok to be ready for it within a few hours and make himself available.

The conversation exhausted Brenok. He moved his right shoulder, feeling tension growing. How much time until the tension would turn into pain?

He left the office and headed for the infirmary.

When he entered the medical centre, he saw Medic Taret and Medic Nerot conversing.

“How is she?” The gul guessed that the operation was over and that she lived. None of them would dare not to inform him immediately.

Taret looked at the younger medic. Nerot cleared his throat and said, “Her condition stable but without change. She be still comatose.”

“Prognosis?”

“Hard to tell at this moment. We should know more in a few hours.”

“How are you, sir?” Taret asked.

“Actually...” Brenok looked at his right hand. “Actually I have been experiencing a mild discomfort.”

A medical scanner appeared in Taret’s hand immediately. “What kind of discomfort?” he asked, moving the scanner over Brenok’s shoulder.

“No, not there. It’s about my hand. My fingers go a bit numb.” The medic scanned Brenok’s palm. “It started a few days ago.”

“Why didn’t you say?” Nerot frowned.

“I didn’t think it was anything serious.”

“In your condition, sir, everything be serious and should be taken care of immediately.” Nerot’s tone of voice was clearly chastising.

Taret shot a look at the young medic—a mixture of surprise and amusement. Brenok didn’t remember when was the last time that someone talked to him like to a naughty child.

The gul shrugged. “It’s just numb fingers.”

“It would be ‘just numb finger’ in case of anyone else, sir. You, Gul, be not ‘anyone else.’ You need to take extra care of yourself.”

“Do your fingers also get cold?” Taret asked. Brenok had an impression that the older medic interrupted the younger one not to let him say something that would go too far.

“No,” Brenok said, shaking his head. “Only a bit numb. It passes after a few hours each time.”

“You experience it now?” Nerot asked.

“Yes.”

“Please go to the examination room with me.”

“Why?”

“I need to do some poking and you don’t want me to do that in an open infirmary room, Gul.”

Brenok stared at Nerot. Taret’s expression remained surprised but his amusement clearly raised; he pursed his lips not to smile.

“Poking?” Brenok repeated.

“This way.” Nerot motioned toward one of adjacent rooms.

The gul looked at Taret.

“He is your medic now, sir,” the old medic commented. “And he is a neurologist. A good one. Don’t let his age—or unusual behaviour—fool you.”

Brenok followed Nerot, who wore an expectant expression on his face. Obviously, the young medic didn’t take ‘no’ for an answer. Even from his gul.

“Please sit down, sir.” Brenok sat. “I will run a few scans and then I will have to perform a few mechanical tests. Some of them require me to touch you. You can refuse, however for the examination to be really informing, I’d rather you agreed.” He paused, so Brenok gathered he waited for an answer.

The gul sighed. Nerot was a medic, after all. “Perform the full examination.”

The whole process took less than Brenok expected. Nerot studied his scar, manually examined Brenok’s shoulder and hand, performing a few physical reaction tests, made a few scans and finally entered some information into the database. Then, he looked at Brenok. “I will-be keep observing that new symptom,” he said. “Please let me know if it changes and strengthens. It could be a beginning of additional complications or nerve deterioration, I can’t tell yet. I’ll also have to consult the database regarding the details of your operation.”

“Should I worry?”

“I don’t know.”

Brenok didn’t like the sound of that but appreciated that the medic didn’t feed him with false promises. “Is that all?”

“Yes, sir.”

The gul rose and headed for the exit, but stopped and turned to the medic. “Nerot, I find it amusing, but remember to show some deference when dealing with high ranking officers.”

The medic’s mouth opened a little and his eye ridges went wide. “Oh, I be so sorry, sir! Be I disrespectful? I be so sorry!”

Brenok raised his hand. “No harm done. But keep it in mind.”

Nerot squared his shoulders. “Yes, Gul. I will-be, Gul.”

Brenok returned to the main infirmary chamber. He went to Taret. “What do you think of him?”

“His unbelievably young, unbelievably skilled and unbelievably putting his patients’ good before their rank.” Taret smiled. “You’re in good hands, sir. He won’t take a ‘no’ even from you.”

Brenok didn’t manage to stop a smile from appearing on his face, hearing that Taret voiced his own earlier thoughts. “Splendid. Should I execute him now?”

Taret chuckled. “Wait until he cures you.”

Brenok’s eyes went to the post-op chamber. “Will he cure her?”

“We did all we can. Now it depends on her.”

Brenok nodded and slowly left the infirmary.
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Old March 21 2011, 06:14 AM   #118
Gul Re'jal
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Re: ST: Shaping a Cardassian - "Strength Without Sacrifice is Useless"

Intermission



Demok looked in his mother’s face and thought his heart would fall apart. She looked pale. She lay motionlessly and appeared almost dead. He glanced at the readings on the medical monitor to make sure she still breathed.

He came to sit with her and to read for her but instead of activating the padd, which he brought with him, his mouth opened and he said something else.

“The Klingons attacked us today, Mom. They came and attempted to destroy the station. They hadn’t declared war, so I hope it was just a rogue operation of a few insane individuals. I really hope there won’t be any war. I really do. I don’t want any dying around me. I don’t want suffering. I had seen too much suffering on Mazita. Can you imagine? They are dying there and there’s nothing we can do about it. Some idiots with excrements instead of brains decided to create something they couldn’t control and use it against other people. And then they refused to join the work on the cure. I know you had told me that those few people were blinded by hatred, but to this point? To refuse to help their people? I am surprised that Krause would not have them executed, but he had told me that they have no death penalty on Mazita.

“You know, Mom, they created that virus because they wanted ‘freedom.’ But at what cost! Of their conscience. Of living with blood on their hands. They wanted to ‘free’ themselves from the Union, but what is so wrong about being in the Union to do something like that? They have their own law, their own people to represent them. What did they want?” He shrugged. “I don’t understand that, Mom, I just don’t.”

“They have autonomy, but not sovereignty.”

Demok turned to looked at the owner of the voice that spoke behind his back. Captain Ronus.

“And what would that sovereignty make so different?” Demok asked. “What would it change?”

“Perhaps nothing,” Ronus said, coming closer to the sub-archon. “But they had been given away by the Federation government to the Cardassians. They had been abused by the Cardassians. They had suffered during the Dominion War because of their proximity to the border. They had been cut off from their families and friends in the Federation when the Cardassians isolated themselves from the quadrant. And that’s only the short list of major problems.” Ronus sat on a stool on the other side of the bed and looked at Jarol. Then he looked back at Demok. “Those colonists wanted freedom because being under someone’s rule brought them nothing good. And it doesn’t matter if we talk about the Federation or the Cardassian Union. They had been hurt by both and trusted no one.”

“And that justifies it?” Demok couldn’t believe his own ears.

“Of course not. But that explains it. For you, Cardassia is your home. It’s a place where you feel happy and safe. Peaceful; not free of problems, but no place is. It wasn’t always like this. Your mother took part in overthrowing a government because she believed that Cardassia needed to be changed and she believed she knew how to do it. If you ask her, she’d tell you that pre-war Cardassia wasn’t as quiet and peaceful as it is now. Ask Gul Brenok. Ask anyone who remembers those times.

“Those Federation colonist also remember those times and nothing showed them that anything changed since.”

“A human governor wasn’t enough?” Demok asked with a sneer.

“No, it wasn’t.”

They sat in silence for a moment. Then, the sub-archon said. “They were under our protection. They would be offered help if they asked for it. And when they did, they received help to the best of our abilities, even if that was hardly enough. They had the right to participate in Union-wise referenda and establish their own law. They were left alone. And it wasn’t enough.”

“What you call ‘protection,’ they call ‘abuses.’ What you call ‘help,’ they call ‘left us all to die.’ What you call ‘referenda,’ they call ‘naive imitation of real democracy.’” Demok wanted to protest but Ronus raised his head. “Yes, I know. You’re still trying to find a cure and you’re still trying to save those people, but they don’t know how sincere you are in your promises. You broke too many promises to trust you at face value. Your political system might seem good and normal to you, because you know no other, but believe me, there are better ways.” The Trill smiled. “See? I believe in mine just like you believe in yours.”

Demok didn’t say anything. He only observed Ronus. Finally, the sub-archon muttered. “We do the best we can.”

“You sound hurt and defensive.” I am! Demok wanted to shout. “Forgive me, it was not my intention to attack you or Cardassia. I’m just trying to explain to you that some things don’t appear the same when you look at them from a different perspective. And I failed, as I didn’t manage to completely get rid of my own perspective and unintentionally judged yours.”

“Do you think that the Cardassians are evil?” Demok asked. He knew that his people had that reputation. He knew that especially after dealing with Prefect Krause. He didn’t understand that and thought it was undeserved. He didn’t see himself as evil.

“I think there are evil people everywhere. Not all Cardassians are evil, just like not all Trills are good.”

“Am I evil?”

Ronus shook his head without hesitation. “No.”

“Is Brenok evil?”

“No.” Again, Demok didn’t see any hesitation.

“Is Toral evil?”

“I don’t know him well enough to answer that question.”

“But you know Brenok.” It wasn’t a question, a statement rather.

“I had worked with him three years ago. I don’t know his full biography, but I know his personality. The last word I’d use to describe him is ‘evil.’”

“My mother?”

“Your mother did a lot of bad things in her life.”

Demok’s memory brought that horrifying moment when she had admitted to assassinating Legate Ahal. The sub-archon tried not to think about it. He managed to push it deep into his unconsciousness and not dwell on it, but he knew sooner or later it would surface and ask him questions about morality, right and wrong, crime and punishment. Did Ronus know about this event from her life? Or did he talk about something else? How many secrets were there? What else didn’t he know about her? What could Ronus know that her own son didn’t?

“Does it make her evil?” he asked.

“No. But it doesn’t make her good either.”

“Why not evil then?”

“Because the universe isn’t just black and white, it’s also an unlimited number of shades of grey.” Ronus paused. “She didn’t do all of those things with pure intent of wrongdoing. She tried to do something good but chose wrong ways. It doesn’t make it right at all, but it also shows that she isn’t a villain. She lacks judgement that would always tell her what’s right and what’s wrong.”

Demok smirked. “How the Federation understands right and wrong.”

“Perhaps. We are not saints either and we also make mistakes. The difference is that you have to pay for your mistakes. Your mother didn’t pay for hers.”

Demok lowered his head and looked at Jarol. “Once, many years ago, before I was born, she publicly defied her gul. She refused to follow an order of killing Cardassian civilians. She was almost executed after that. But she wasn’t. So you say she didn’t pay for her mistake of defying her superior.”

“I didn’t know that detail from her biography. I can tell you one thing: this gul should have been punished, not her. That is one good example of what had been wrong with Cardassia.”

“Is it?” Demok’s head bobbed as he looked up at Ronus.

“Think of it! Was that gul punished in any way?”

“No. In fact, he became a legate after the war.”

“Ha! See? That’s wrong too! No only he wasn’t prosecuted, he became a very important person. That wouldn’t have happened in the Federation.” Ronus silenced. “What happened to him? I assume that he didn’t stay in power long after your mother’s coup.”

“It wasn’t my mother’s coup, it was Daset’s coup. She was a participant.”

“Semantics.”

“And to answer your question: that man had been assassinated before the Shift.”

“‘The Shift.’ What a neat and tidy name for such an ugly political move.” Demok growled but Ronus didn’t seem to notice. “What happened to Alon Ghemor?” he asked suddenly, startling Demok.

“He left Cardassia Prime and moved to a colony.”

“Is he still alive?”

“As far as I know. He is not a public person any more, so news reporters don’t follow his life.”

“At least, you’re improving,” Ronus said.

“What do you mean?”

“A few years earlier he’d be killed without mercy.”

“My mother—”

“I’m sure you want to say that she is not like that, that she wouldn’t do such a thing.” Demok swallowed the words before saying them. “She’s your mother, you see the best in her. I understand that. But not everyone sees her the same way you do.”

“You don’t.”

The Trill smiled. “She’s...interesting. She’s a mixture of ‘want to do right but don’t know how so will use bad examples I had been given and try that way.’”

“How little you know her.”

“I start to wonder how little you know her.”

“You have no idea what I know.” Demok’s thoughts returned to Legate Ahal again.

Ronus observed the sub-archon for a moment. “Forgive me again. It would seem I was too aggressive in my words.” He silenced for a moment, looking at the comatose woman and then he raised his head to look at Demok. “Let me ask you this: what do you think about the Shift? As an archon, I mean. What do you see, when you look at it as a lawyer?”

“This is not a question with an easy answer.”

“Why not?”

“Because the Shift happened when another law applied. Should I judge her from the point of view of the law currently in force or from the previous one. Considering that back then the law was in a state of flux, it would be difficult to tell where new law started and where the old law, either the Dominion’s or the previous Central Command’s, ended.”

“Is there any difference in any of these rules regarding the sentence for a coup participant?” Ronus asked.

Demok was sure the Trill knew the answer to that question. He just wanted the sub-archon to say it out loud. He couldn’t. “Not every coup is the same.”

“The law doesn’t see those differences.”

“But it should.”

“To excuse her?”

Demok felt his anger rising. “Why didn’t you ask her any of those questions? Scared too much?” he asked with contempt.

“I did. She doesn’t think she did anything wrong.”

“She tried her best.”

“But she chose wrong methods.”

“Oh, I’m sure she should go to a park, promise a lot of food for everyone and they would vote for her for the Castellan.” Demok’s voice was dripping with sarcasm. “Isn’t it how it’s done in the Federation?”

“No, not really.” Ronus smiled and Demok’s emotions raged again—he felt the smile was patronising. The Trill had to realise that too as it suddenly disappeared from his face.

“And now comes a moment of education for the stupid, young Cardassian,” Demok barked.

“No. But I can clearly see that you share your mother’s definition and it’s not exactly the correct one.” The sub-archon tried to calm down, or at least not to show how angry he was. “Our process is different and it’s not as simple as you seem to think it is. Of course, a lot of people would be happy to know that they would get food from your mother, should she win elections, and would vote for her, but there would also be lots of people that would ask ‘how will you do it?’ They wouldn’t just accept her promises at face value, they would ask her for details how she wants to keep her promises. She would have to present a detailed plan of changes and improvements and if she would find supporters, she could win.”

“But anyone, literally anyone, can try. Even someone without any knowledge or skill. Even someone who would want only grab some power.”

“Let’s talk about part one of your question.

“Yes, everyone can try. However, it doesn’t mean that everyone would be elected. If voters decide that this particular candidate is not good enough, they don’t vote for him. The case is closed.

“As for the power-grabbing people...They are everywhere and no system can prevent them. But at least our system keeps them in power for a short time. Your system used to give them power for their lifetimes. It changed, but as far as I know it’s still not easy to remove a legate from his office.”

“You know little.”

“All right, I admit that. There is a lot that I don’t understand in your current politics. Can you admit to the same?”

Demok pursed his lips. “I don’t understand your political system at all,” he said. He had almost failed the exam from the Federation political system and its history. He had memorised it but some things seemed so alien, strange and chaotic to him that he couldn’t comprehend how it could work. Neither his Mom, nor Uncle Brenok had been able to help him. It seemed logical and make sense in theory, but he thought that it was impossible to apply it to practice. “So, you think my mother should be executed,” he said, returning to the earlier subject of their discussion.

“No.” Ronus shook his head energetically. “I wish no one to die. But she should face charges. And other participants too.”

“You do realise that Brenok is one of them, don’t you?”

Ronus was clearly surprised. “No, I didn’t know that.”

“Making them criminals would cancel everything they had done since then. It would render whole new law and set of rules illegal and delete them. We would be back to the status from after the Dominion War—with a choice between the Dominion’s law and the previous Central Command law. Thanks. One exile to go, please.”

Ronus laughed. “At least you don’t believe in glory of the old Cardassia.”

“I believe in Cardassia. I don’t believe in idiots who happened to ruin it.”

“So your mother is not an idiot because she didn’t ruin it. You have the comfort of time perspective and you judge the results, not the methods.” Ronus said.

“Do you want me to say that I would want to see my mother executed?” Demok shouted heatedly.

“No, never.” Ronus sighed. “Maybe we should change the person, because political discussions about one’s mother are not as theoretical as I’d like them to be. How about Brenok?”

Demok smiled. “Genetically he is a stranger to me, but I call him ‘Uncle’ and love him as if he were my own father. Are you sure he’s a better example?”

“Obviously not.” Ronus’s smile was sincere and warm. “So maybe we should refrain from using any specific examples and talk about theory.”

“And you think that I would be able to forget that my mother and my uncle could be examples for that theory?”

“I have a question, if I may.” Demok nodded, so Ronus continued. “How is such an act—overthrowing a government by means of a coup—punished, if at all, today?”

“Execution.”

“Why?”

“Why?” Demok blinked, not sure the intentions behind the question.

“Yes, why? The current leaders had overthrown a government. Why didn’t they change the law to make it a legal way of taking power and clean themselves.”

Demok ignored the mistake that Ronus made—none of the current leaders had been involved in the Shift—and answered the question instead. “The law doesn’t work backward. Besides, do you think they would like to be overthrown themselves?”

“So they knew this was wrong.”

Demok sighed. “Everyone knows a coup is wrong.”

“Everyone but your mother.”

“Yeah. She’s just that one stupid Cardassian that slits babies’ throats and can’t comprehend why people want to hang her.”

“That’s not what I mean.”

“That’s what I heard.”

“What do you think? About a coup in general, as means of taking power. You had used the word ‘everyone.’”

Demok didn’t say anything at first. He knew some day someone would ask him this question. “I think,” he said at length, “that this is a risky way of getting power, as it can backfire in so many ways. But if there are no other ways of removing a harmful leader, then it has to be done.”

“Were there no other ways?”

“Aside from assassinating Ghemor? No. In Cardassian tradition, power was held for life. Once you’re in the Central Command or Detapa Council, you stay there until you die, or resign, or get kicked out by other members. There were only few cases of resignation. A few more of getting removed by others, but never caused by real political reasons—usually it was a petty vendetta. Until Daset’s government, there was no way of relieving anyone from their governmental position. Only by force. That’s why every change in our history was bloody and brutal.”

“And now?”

“And now there is. I can direct you to the chapter of the Charter that describes it in detail. There was no way of immediate removal of a current Castellan, except for not voting for him the next time.”

“I would appreciate that tip regarding the chapter. One more question: wouldn’t it be worth to wait for the next elections and that way remove Ghemor, if he was so wrong? I doubt people would vote for him and his mistakes. As far as I know they had been unhappy with his politics and that’s why Daset’s party managed to hold to power, in spite of the methods. And if Daset took power that way—no one could complain.”

“You mean—‘unvote’ Ghemor after he disassembled the military? That would do us a lot of good!”

“You could rebuild the military.”

“And in the meantime what would protect us from the Klingons? Or the Romulans? Or the Breen? Or the Ferengi? You?”

Ronus smiled. “Perhaps.”

“And the price for that protection would be...?”

The smile on Ronus’s face faded. “Probably high.”

“Look, Captain. If you want me to say ‘that coup was evil,’ I won’t. If you want me to say ‘any coup is evil,’ I won’t either, because that would include that particular coup. I may be under my mother’s and uncle’s strong influence, but I am far from saying that it was a mistake. It was wr—maybe it was the wrong thing to do, but it created the Cardassia around me and I happen to like this Cardassia.” Oh, no! I didn’t almost say that, did I?

“So the ends justify the means.”

“Not always. But sometimes you have to get your hands dirty to get the work done, because there is no clean way of doing it. And I’ll stand by my mother’s side on this until the last breath. You can assign me to the same bag of grey as you assign her. I don’t care.”

Ronus didn’t say anything at first and just observed Demok with a slightly inclined head. “You remind me of someone.”

“Who?”

“Someone who lived long time ago. And I think you are not so sure of what you’re telling me now, as you’d like me to believe. You are torn between being a lawyer and being a good son. There’s nothing wrong with that and you don’t have to admit to anything to me. Just keep thinking about it. Keep thinking.”

Ronus rose and glanced at Jarol.

“You will never hear me saying that I want my own mother dead!” Demok said firmly.

The Trill said, “I know.” Then he left, leaving Demok with his own, bitter thoughts to himself.

The sub-archon put his hand on his mother’s. “You don’t deserve an execution. You did too much good to be paid for that with a death sentence. And even if you didn’t, you are my Mommy and I’d never want you to die.” Her hand felt warm but she remained motionless. “Mommy, please wake up,” he whispered.
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"Reagan, it appears, is really only an ardent unionist if the unions in question are in Poland" - Stephen King, Skeleton Crew
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Old March 21 2011, 06:15 AM   #119
Gul Re'jal
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Re: ST: Shaping a Cardassian - "Strength Without Sacrifice is Useless"

Chapter 3


Rayak Nor
15:32




“Gul Brenok!” Ronus called the Cardassian. Brenok stopped and let the Trill to catch up with him. “Could we talk?” he asked. “But not here, a more secluded place would be better,” he added, looking around the busy corridor outside the infirmary.

“The legate’s office,” Brenok said.

They headed for the lift. Ronus observed the Cardassian gul. Brenok seemed tensed and lost in thoughts. The Trill could understand that: the station had been attacked, Brenok’s friend was in bad condition in the infirmary, there were difficult decisions to make...

They arrived to the office without a word. It was empty. Both Zamarran and Borad were in the command centre, obviously very busy.

“What is it?” Brenok asked, when the door closed behind them.

“I wanted to assure you that you can count on my support regarding the recent Klingon attack.”

The gul seemed puzzled. “Support? What kind of support?”

“As a Federation representative I can confirm that the attack was unprovoked and the defence, including the destruction of two ships, was necessary.” He had observed the situation from the tactical centre and it seemed that destroying the third ship was not necessary, but wasn’t sure it was the best moment to ask Brenok about that.

“A Federation representative...” Brenok repeated slowly. “I’m not sure what you mean, exactly.”

“My testimony would endorse your actions and solutions. It would prove that you are not to blame, that you didn’t provoke the Klingons in any way.”

Brenok narrowed his eyes. “And who do I need to prove that to?” he asked in a low tone.

“The Federation would—”

“And what does the Federation have to do with that?” the gul interrupted. “What is it business of yours?” His voice became louder and more on the edge. Ronus could see that Brenok barely concealed his fury. “Are you some kind of interstellar tribunal that has the final word on who is right and who is not? Are you a troop that would point to the ones at fault and punish them? Why should I care what you think about it?!”

On my spots, Ronus thought, is it me phrasing everything so badly, or the Cardassians are extremely irritable today?

“Gul Brenok, that’s not what I meant. I merely offer myself as a witness, an impartial witness, should you need one.” He emphasised the last part of his sentence to make sure Brenok didn’t think he forced anything upon the gul.

“Should I need one for what exactly? Whom should I justify my actions to that I might need a witness to support my claims?”

“I don’t know.” Ronus tried to calm Brenok down. He was glad he didn’t ask about the third ship, as it would be the worst moment possible. “But if such a need arises, you can count on me.”

Brenok stared at the Trill for a long while and Ronus wasn’t sure if the gul was considering his offer or trying very hard not to hit him.

“I’ll remember that,” Brenok said finally.

“That’s all I ask,” the captain said softly. “Now, if I may be dismissed.” He thought that showing a behaviour of submission would help to placate Brenok.

“Dismissed.”

Ronus left the office.

This did not go as he had hoped it would. First, Demok had been taking his words the wrong way. The sub-archon had acted defensively during their whole discussion and the Trill was sure that there was a lot of misunderstanding between them. He understood that Demok wanted to stay loyal to his mother and wouldn’t want her any harm, but he could also clearly see that the young lawyer didn’t know how to reconcile the love for his mother and her not-so-clean past. It didn’t escape Ronus’s attention that Demok had said that everybody knew that a coup was a bad thing and his later verbal lapse ‘it was wrong’ corrected to ‘maybe.’ Ronus certainly hadn’t wanted Demok to make a choice between his mother’s life and his duty as an archon. Demok had repeated her words but Ronus wasn’t sure if Demok really believed in what he had said or he had just tried to find a way of not admitting that what she had done was wrong. It was wrong and Demok seemed to know that; he also seemed to struggle with that. What he didn’t seem to understand was that admitting to that wouldn’t automatically mean that he didn’t love his mother, or that he wished her harm. Ronus had an uncomfortable impression that he unintentionally had driven Demok to the wall.

And now Brenok and his hostility. Ronus wondered if it had been his unfortunate wording, or Brenok was on the edge and the Trill had chosen a bad moment to talk to the gul. Brenok never seemed unreasonable to him but a few minutes earlier...? Ronus would expect such words from Jarol, but from Brenok?

Maybe they weren’t different one from another that much after all.

Brenok, Jarol and Demok. They certainly were a family and if he ever had any doubts, they were gone now.

He had a report to make. He had to tell his superiors about this sneak, mean Klingon attack. Maybe Brenok didn’t care at the moment, but Ronus would not allow the Cardassians to be blamed for this. He would not allow another ‘they deserved that for what they are like’ argument. And he certainly would argue if anyone tried to insist that the Cardassians in any way provoked the Klingons.

But why did Brenok destroy the third ship? Why didn’t he just allow them to retreat? Not today, but Ronus would ask that question eventually. He had to. He had to, to keep his faith in the Cardassians. And in Gul Brenok.



Rayak Nor
16:07



Laran Demok entered Jarol’s office, now occupied by Brenok, and stood by the door with an uncertain look on his face. The gul raised his head to look at the sub-archon.

“What is it?” he asked after a moment.

“Uncle...” Demok approached the desk. “Uncle...” he started again and, again, didn’t continue.

Brenok leaned back in his chair and patiently waited for the young Cardassian to continue. Whatever he came with, it was difficult for him and Brenok didn’t want to press.

Demok sat. “Uncle, are we going to war with the Klingons?”

Brenok didn’t expect this question. The worst thing was that he didn’t know the answer. It was barely over an hour since he had talked to Legate Ekoor.

The Klingons knew very well what they were doing, attempting to first eliminate Jarol, the station gul, and then attacking the outpost. They tried to cut the head off and then destroy the rest of the body. They managed to protect the station but the political aftermath was incredibly difficult. The Cardassian Union was not strong enough to fight the Klingons and they would soon lose that war. The most obvious option—declaring a war—was not a solution. However, if they wouldn’t declare a war, the Klingons would know that the reason is their weakness and inability of defending themselves and would keep attacking. That way or another they had a war on their hands, a war they couldn’t win.

They desperately needed a third option, but so far no one had any good ideas.

Brenok looked at Demok to tell him that war might be inevitable and he would opt for declaring war against the Klingons to at least appear strong and act with honour and bravery, but seeing Laran’s face expression, seeing what was in the young man’s eyes...

Pure fear.

Brenok noticed that Demok’s eyes wandered to the scar on the gul’s neck ridge. He had been merely two years older when he had been almost killed by a Klingon in another war. The sub-archon knew it. He witnessed Brenok’s pain and limitations caused by his mild disability. Demok didn’t know Brenok without this disability.

That’s what a war was: pain, suffering, destruction.

“I am trying to find a reasonable solution to this problem,” the gul said at length. “We all are.”

“Uncle...” Demok whispered. “I’m not a child, tell me.”

“All right.” Brenok did not intend to insult the sub-archon by treating him disrespectfully and not appreciating his age and experience that had been gathered recently thanks to his own orders. “Either we respond to the attack by official declaration of war and we go to fight or we don’t react at all and get attacked by the Klingons, who will take us for weaklings, and we go to fight.”

“But if we declare war, can we win?”

Brenok slowly shook his head.

“What?” Demok’s eyes opened even wider.

“I know it’s not something you can hear in a news broadcast but that is the fact. Believe me, if there is anyone in the Union that knows everything about our military’s strength, it’s me.”

The sub-archon shook his head, tears in his eyes. Brenok hated scaring him like this but he wouldn’t lie.

Demok took a few deep breaths and composed himself. “Can’t we get someone, some kind of intermediary, who would help us?”

“Any attempt of not letting the war happen would be a clear sign that we’re not ready for it and that we’re ripe for conquer.”

“What about the Federation?”

Brenok remembered that the Federation had tried to talk the Klingons into dropping their idea of a sneak attack on Cardassia. It had ended the Federation-Klingon treaty. He shook his head. “I don’t think the Klingons would listen to anyone.”

“How about a good and strong ally?”

The gul tried to keep his face straight; the last thing he wanted was to insult Demok with a soft, fatherly smile. Here he was, half of his life a soldier, most of his career the highest commander of the Cardassian Guard, listening to advices of a very young civilian that never even experienced war.

“We had an ally the last time,” he said.

“I don’t say ‘let them into the government.’ But maybe there is someone to whom the Klingons pose a danger, too. Separately we’re...weak, but together we could show those bumpy foreheads where their place is.”

Former Legate Jotrel also had suggested such a solution.

“You’re your mother’s son, no doubt,” Brenok said smiling. “You are thinking like a soldier.”

Demok didn’t grin. “Will you keep me informed?”

“I will,” the gul promised.

The sub-archon started to raise but sat back in the chair. “Uncle, do you think Mom would have some good ideas?”

“I don’t know but I wish she were here.”

Demok nodded with a sad expression painted on his face, rose and left the office. Brenok wondered if the young man resented the fact that the gul used his mother’s office but quickly discarded the thought. Demok was not so petty-minded.



Rayak Nor
16:26




Brenok left his office and approached Captain Ronus, who worked at his console.

“Captain, could we talk in the office?” he asked. He couldn’t say ‘my’ office.

“Of course.”

Av’Roo continued Ronus’s monitoring work and the Trill followed the gul.

“Please sit down.”

Ronus sat. “Gul Brenok, if this is about my contacting the Federation an hour ago, I had asked Glinn Borad for permission before establishing the connection. It was an urgent duty matter.”

Brenok sat in the chair on the other side of the desk. “I assume you filed your report regarding the attack,” he said calmly.

“That’s correct. I know you think it’s not a—”

Brenok raised his hand, silencing the Trill. “That’s what I wanted to talk to you about.” He paused for a moment. “Please accept my apologies. My reaction was uncalled for. I was under stress. It doesn’t justify it, I know, but that’s the only explanation I have. I know your intentions were good and I paid you with an aggressive attack. I shouldn’t have happened.”

“That’s all right, Gul.” Ronus’s face assumed a softer expression. “I fully understand that the situation is difficult. I should have found another moment.”

“I don’t think any moment would be good,” Brenok sighed.

“I have one question but I’m not sure if it’s...safe to ask.”

“Go ahead.”

“Was the destruction of the last Klingon ship necessary?”

“No.”

The short and firm answer seemed to shock Ronus. “Then why did you do it?” he asked after a moment.

“The Klingon captain refused to retreat. I didn’t want to destroy his ship and kill his crew, but he would keep pounding at the station endlessly.”

“Klingon honour...” Ronus muttered. “He thought a retreat would equal cowardice.”

“It seemed so. He wanted to die in battle. I don’t understand that Klingon glory of dying, reminds me too much of the Jem’Hadar, but if that was what he wanted, I gave it to him.” Brenok shuddered at the thought. He looked at Ronus; why did the Trill look relieved? “Why did you think I did it?”

“I didn’t know. I didn’t know what to think.”

“You thought I murdered him in cold blood.” There was no anger in Brenok’s voice; he said it calmly, almost dispassionately.

“No, Brenok. You are not a person who kills anyone with a complete disregard for life and that’s why I had been confused and wanted to ask this question.”

“Why did you stay on the station? It wasn’t your battle, it wasn’t your problem and in case of destruction, you would die with Cardassian soldiers.”

“Believe it or not, I consider myself a sort of soldier too. I know, I know,” Ronus said, seeing Brenok’s amused smile. “I am a scientist in Starfleet and now also a diplomat, but even Starfleet prepares us for combat situations. Also psychologically. I couldn’t just run away and you have no idea how difficult it was to just stare at your soldiers and not participate in the events. Not that they needed any help. It would feel like an act of cowardice. I don’t run away from a sinking ship, Brenok, and it doesn’t matter than this ship is not mine.”

“It’s a station,” Brenok corrected him, puzzled by his choice of words.

“It’s a figure of speech,” Ronus smiled. “It’s origin is Earth. They believed that a captain of a ship should be the last person to leave it, should the ship be in danger. I am not the captain here, but abandoning this place and all people here would feel...wrong. I consider myself a part of this crew, even if I’m just a guest.”

“This is what Starfleet taught you?”

“Yes, it is.”

“So you decided to stay.”

“Yes. I also thought that...” he didn’t finish.

“That you could be a witness.”

“Yes. Maybe you wouldn’t need one, but I am sure the Federation would want to know what happened here today and my report is what they need: from someone who experienced it personally.”

Brenok smiled bitterly. “And they wouldn’t believe us.”

Ronus’s smile mirrored the gul’s. “I am not sure. There had been air of distrust between us, the Federation and Cardassia, for very long time and then you had cut all relations with everyone. You’re emerging now and we are in the process or rediscovering you again, but there are many for whom it’s not enough. They still see you through the old prism. They need some time and a lot more information to see what the Cardassians are like now. Information with which you are not forthcoming.”

“We try to keep to ourselves.”

“You don’t want to be a part of the quadrant? You don’t want to be a part of a bigger community?”

“This is not a question for me. This is a question for politicians.”

“Can’t you answer as a Cardassian citizen?”

Brenok thought for a while. “I don’t want Cardassia to be isolated any longer, there was time for it and that time came to an end. We recuperated and don’t need to remain in seclusion. However, I would prefer if Cardassia minded its own business and the others would mind their own business.” With the Klingon attack it didn’t seem like his wish would come true. “I don’t mind cultural exchange or contact with other races, but I don’t want to be a ‘part of community.’ We can be good neighbours and I’d like that, but I don’t want you to drop by for a cup of fish juice every afternoon.”

“A good neighbour but not a friend.”

“Neither an enemy, mind you.”

Ronus smiled. “I can understand it. I disagree but I can understand it.”

“You want to be friends with everyone?”

“No. I am very careful who I choose as my friends. However, I wouldn’t say that I would like to be friends with no one. That would be darn boring!”

Brenok smiled. “And you would like us to be your friends?”

“Honestly?” Brenok nodded. “But don’t tell anyone, ok?” Brenok nodded again. Ronus leaned toward him and whispered, “I would choose you over the Klingons as an ally any moment.”

The gul didn’t expect to hear that. At first he thought that the Trill joked, but the captain’s face was as earnest as it gets. “Seriously?” Brenok asked after a long moment of silence.

“Absolutely!”

“Why?”

“Because it takes a lot more than a ‘dishonourable’—whatever that means—act for you to break a treaty. For the Klingons it could be anything. For you—it takes a lot of bad treatment and a treason before you turn your back on your ally.”

Brenok knitted his eye ridges. “How could you know?”

Ronus didn’t answer at once. “The example isn’t something you’d like, but I think it pictures perfectly what I mean. The Dominion. Think how far they had to go in mistreating the Cardassians before you turned on them. It took very little for the Klingons to cancel our treaty. The Federation would never do to the Cardassians what the Dominion did, and the Cardassians would never break a treaty as a result of a minor disagreement. We could be so much more than just neighbours. Together, we could be stronger and safer.”

Brenok chuckled. “Also from each other.”

Ronus laughed. “And I wouldn’t turn around my axis and roll into a coil watching my ally eat live gagh on a diplomatic dinner, because you don’t eat live food.”

Brenok’s eyes opened wide. “You wouldn’t what?” He burst into laughter.

“My symbiont has spoken.” Ronus joined him and giggled. “Sometimes it feels like they eat...well, me.”

“They say the Cardassian cuisine is the worst in the quadrant.”

“It’s second worst. In my personal opinion the Klingons take the gold medal.”

“Thank you...I guess,” he added, pretending to have an afterthought. His naughty smile betrayed his true feelings.

Suddenly, the smile disappeared from Brenok’s face. How could he laugh when she was there in the infirmary and no one could tell if she had any chances for a normal life? How selfish he was! How insensate!

Ronus seemed to understand Brenok’s sudden change of mood.

“I’ll go now,” he said, raising. “I’m sure you’re very busy today.”
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Old March 21 2011, 06:15 AM   #120
Gul Re'jal
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Re: ST: Shaping a Cardassian - "Strength Without Sacrifice is Useless"


Rayak Nor
18:40




A chime at the door surprised Brenok; he had clearly told Borad that he was not to be disturbed. He glanced at the door and through the glass he could see it was Demok. The gul pressed a button and the door opened.

“Laran, I am just about to establish connection with the Central Command, so whatever it is, make it brief,” he said.

“I want to know what’s going to happen,’’ the young Cardassian replied.

“I’ll tell you after the meeting.”

“Uncle, as a citizen I have a right to watch such an important session.”

Brenok thought for a while. Indeed, some sessions were broadcast for the public live and almost all were available in pay-per-view news channel. “You can stay but under a few conditions. First of all, you will sit beyond the camera reach. You will remain silent during the whole procedure. You have a right to watch it but not participate. So remember that you’re only an audience.”

“Yes, sir.”

Demok took a chair a put behind the screen. He could see Brenok but not what was on the screen.

The gul established the connection. He was so often unavailable to personally attend the sessions that he had created a special secure connection to participate remotely.

Gul Brenok, are you with us?” Legate Ekoor asked.

“I am. I read you loud and clear,” the gul replied.

Very well, we can start then.
“We have gathered here today to make a decision regarding our current situation, namely the Klingon attack on Rayak Nor. This was an unprovoked attack and the Klingon Empire has not officially declared war on us. We must decide what is going to be our reply to this event.
“I believe you all have read Gul Brenok’s detailed report on the situation of Rayak Nor.
” All heads nodded. “Legate Gortan, did the Federation react in any way to this attack?” Ekoor asked a legate who was responsible for interstellar affairs, a function that Jarol used to have.

They have condemned the attack. And that’s all. They won’t do anything else. They say their hands are tied. They did offer to mediate, should we ask for their help, but the ambassador said that they wouldn’t push the Klingons too hard. They are afraid of provoking them to break their alliance.

Brenok was not surprised at all. They had done little twenty-five years ago, they would do little now. Besides, Ronus had been right—it hadn’t taken the Klingons much to abandon their allies at first sight of disagreement. Honourably abandon their allies, no doubt, he thought with contempt.

Does anyone else have anything more to say?” Ekoor asked. Shakes of heads. Brenok knew that the session had started earlier and he missed most of it. It was not important, he wanted to be present for the voting. “Gul Brenok?

“No, Legate.”

Very well. I would like to inform you that I will abstain from voting. There is an even number of us and that could create a fifty-fifty share of votes. To avoid that I will not vote and will do as the majority decides.” He paused for a moment. Brenok regretted his decision, as he was sure what Ekoor’s vote would be. “The voting will not be anonymous. I will call your names and you will speak out loud your choice. Clear?

“Legate Marrak.”

“War.”

“Legate Battaren.”

“Peace.”

Detarr Azughe’el.”

“Peace.”

“Legate Gortan.”

“War.”

“Legate Evral.”

“Peace.”

Detarr Hopar.”

“War.


Brenok listened and counted the tally. Eighteen members of the Central Command, including him and Ekoor. Some of legates’ and detarrs’ decisions weren’t surprising, but two people voted the way he hadn’t expected. He would never think that they could misjudge the Klingons so badly.

Gul Brenok.

So it was his turn. He was the last one to vote. And his voice would be deciding, as the votes were evenly split between war and peace.

He looked at Ekoor and in a low, calm voice said, “War.”

Demok covered his mouth with his hand and tears shone in his eyes. He clearly didn’t expect such a decision from his uncle. Brenok felt a sting in his heart—he didn’t want to disappoint the young man, but he couldn’t make decisions based on his family members’ feelings. Peace was not an answer. Peace was now and barely a few hours earlier he had been fighting a battle. At least in the official state of war they could initiate war protocols and have some chances of defence. Pretending that nothing happen would not serve them well.

Ekoor heavily sighed. “I will prepare necessary documentation and officially declare war against the Klingon Empire by the end of the day. Meeting concluded.

Brenok closed the connection and looked at Demok. The sub-archon still sat on the chair, his hands squeezing his thighs, wide open eyes staring at Brenok with disbelief.

“How could you?” Demok hissed. “How could you?”

Brenok rose and approached the sub-archon. “You must understand—”

“You told me we can’t win that war, you told me yourself.”

“That’s right. But begging for peace won’t stop the Klingons. This way we at least show them—”

“You brought war on us!” Demok jumped like a spring and hit Brenok in the chest with his both fists. The gul barely felt it through his thick armour. “My mother would never do that!”

“She—”

But Demok wouldn’t listen. He ran out of the office, through the command centre to the lift. Borad followed him with his eyes and then looked surprised at Brenok who stood in the door to the office. The gul gazed at Jarol’s aide, who stared after Demok with surprise painted on his face, and then returned to his desk.

He sat and closed his eyes. He rubbed his forehead ridges with his index fingers. He feared for Cardassia.



Rayak Nor
19:23




Demok left the lift in the pole and went to the infirmary.

He felt panic. Deep, wild panic. He couldn’t breathe. It felt as if something squeezed his guts in its steel claws.

He never knew his father. His father died in war. His father’s sons with his first wife died in war. All of them. His mother’s and uncle’s friend died in war. Millions of Cardassians died in war. War meant death. Suffering. Pain. Destroyed homes. Hunger. Fear. Disease. It didn’t matter who wins. There were too many that lose.

He didn’t want that. He didn’t want that deadly chaos in his quiet, peaceful home. How could Brenok vote for this chaos? How could he even think this was good for Cardassia? Has he gone insane? What was wrong with the world?

There had to be another way. They could try to talk to the Klingons. Maybe the Klingons wouldn’t listen, but did anyone even bother the try? Did anyone explore other options? They were so hasty in declaring the war, but was it the only option? The best option? It’s easy to start fighting, but it would require a lot of work to stop it after the first shot was fired. Why no one saw that?

Why Brenok didn’t see that? He wasn’t a bloodthirsty warmonger. Why did he do that? Was it because the Klingons injured him? Was it because they almost killed Demok’s mother who was like a sister for Brenok?

Cardassia was going to war. It rang in Demok’s mind, rendering his body limp. He was never so afraid in his life. And he knew it was just the beginning.

Only the beginning...



tbc
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"Reagan, it appears, is really only an ardent unionist if the unions in question are in Poland" - Stephen King, Skeleton Crew
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