ST: Shaping a Cardassian - The Shadow of the Order

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction' started by Gul Re'jal, Oct 8, 2010.

  1. Gul Re'jal

    Gul Re'jal Commodore Commodore

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    First, I am very very VERY sorry, but this story contains a huge spoiler for Among the Dragons story. It cannot be avoided though :(

    So, here we go:

    Chapter 2



    USS Karamazov
    Argaya Sector near the Cardassian Union border
    Stardate: 73681.7
    6th of September, 2396, Old Earth Calendar



    Th'Arshar wasn't looking forward to his next task. He sat in the ready room, waiting for the Counselor and pretended to be busy with paperwork. He had prepared several speeches, but was sure none of them would be really used, as Lieutenant Jeto's reaction was hard to predict. She was a brilliant and ingenious engineer, but her internal conflict, which unfortunately was an integral part of her personality, effectively hindered her career. People's reactions to her appearance only strengthened her inner self-loathing and made her contact with other officers rough. Th'Arshar had noticed and understood the value of her skills and made sure she had a chance to prove her worth as an engineer and also to spend most of her time among people who knew her and wouldn't ask any uncomfortable questions. A science ship on a long term mission seemed the perfect choice and it indeed was... until now. Now she would have to face not only people, who would ask questions, but people who would ask a new set of questions and assume a new set of theories.

    “Enter,” he said when he heard a chime.

    The door opened and Counselor Ha'varra entered. He stood in front of his Captain with a deep frown on his face, towering over the sitting man.

    “She is not going to take it easily,” he said.

    “I take it you read my memo and understand the situation.”

    “Captain, I am her therapist. With all due respect, I think I understand the situation better than even you.”

    “You are right, of course,” the Andorian rose and sighed. “Do you think she is going to be able to work with them?”

    “I do not know. I will observe her reaction and determine if she can do it or not. But if not, you would have to find a replacement.”

    “I will. The last thing I want is to start some kind of conflict. This is a very delicate matter.”

    “Agreed. Shall we go?”

    “I wish I could say 'no'.”

    The Efrosian Counselor only smiled and th'Arshar was sure Ha'varra shared his wish.

    They left the ready room and headed for the engineering.

    Lieutenant Jeto was in her office and the last thing she expected was a visit from her Captain and her Counselor.

    “Is there something wrong, sir?” she asked, eyeing them with a mix of surprise and suspicion.

    “Did you study the readings Lieutenant Av'Roo had sent you?”

    “Indeed I did. And I am almost sure that this vessel is of the Cardassian origin, although it's nothing we have in our database. Could be something new, though. It's not that the Cardassians shared their new technology ideas with us for last twenty years.”

    “We have received our orders regarding this vessel,” the Captain said.

    “To study it?” she asked, wondering why Ha'varra was here. Since when did they need a Counselor's presence when conveying orders?

    “Yes. However we're not going to study it alone.”

    “I hope they send us a well equipped science ship to help,” she smiled and picked up a padd from her desk.

    “'They' will not send us anyone,” th'Arshar said slowly.

    “Then who will...” she started her question, but sudden understanding struck her like a lightning. “No,” she slowly shook her head.

    “Lieutenant, as an engineer you'd have to work closely with them. If you are not up to it, I'll find a replacement,” the Andorian explained. “But I think you're the best person for this job. You are a skilled engineer and together with Lieutenant Av'Roo you create an unbeatable team. I need you for this, but only if you can manage. I understand that the situation is difficult--”

    “I can do it,” she interrupted him.

    “Are you sure?” it was the first time Ha'varra spoke.

    “I am,” her voice appeared to be full of resolve.

    “All right, that's good enough for me,” th'Arshar said and turned on his heel to leave her office.

    She nodded her farewell to the Counselor, her earring rustling quietly, and observed both men leaving the engineering.

    She put the padd she had taken from her desk back to where she took it from, closed her eyes and took a deep breath. She had told them she could manage, but she wasn't so sure. She had never had to face a Cardassian in her life and she never wanted to. Not even one. But she wouldn't be herself if she let her troubled soul to interfere with her duty, which she treated very seriously.

    “Oh, Prophets, please help me go through this,” she whispered, putting her finger on top of her ear and sliding it down along the earring's chain. The barely audible sound, which was created by her move, comforted her a little, but she knew it would be a long time before the anguish she was experiencing now would pass.

    If ever.


    Cardassian Union Warship Damar
    In orbit of Darko VI
    22nd day of the month of Lukyut, 532, Cardassian Union Calendar



    “Do you have a coup there that you are so unreachable?” Gul Brenok asked Legate Jarol, irritation in his voice quite clear. Would he be anyone else, Jarol's reaction to his tone of voice would be very different from the actual answer she gave him.

    “This is NOT funny,” she barked from the monitor.

    “Nor is being bombarded by messages from Prefect can't-pronounce-his-name every two or three hours. You'd promised me that I'd have your reply yesterday and this is not yesterday. This is yesterday's tomorrow.”

    “We've been busy here.”

    He only growled.

    “I have talked to one of other colony's Prefect and he agreed to lend some of his forces, but only volunteers, so there could be one man, or one thousand and one round pretty zero.”

    “Splendid,” that was not an answer Brenok wanted to hear.

    “And I have new orders for you.”

    “I haven't finish this matter yet.”

    “Gul Latak can take care of it. The other matter is urgent.”

    “What is it?”

    “The Federation has detected some kind of vessel and they claim it's Cardassian. They say it's not in their database and according to the description and data they had given me – neither is in ours. You are to go there to investigate.”

    “Chasing some old wreckage is more important that this?” he was surprised.

    “This is not just another wreckage. What's more, the Federation asked to be present in the investigation and we have agreed.”

    “You... agreed?” he wasn't just surprised, this was more than surprise. This was unbelievable.

    “You heard me right. I don't think there is a better choice for this mission than our flagship with its,” she smiled sweetly, “wonderful crew.”

    “Uhm.”

    “Or any other Gul who would deal with it better than you.”

    “Uhm.”

    “I'm sending you all the details we've received from the Federation right now,” she manipulated her console and a moment later a light blinked on his, acknowledging successful download. She looked at him and her face softened. “Be careful, Arenn, they claim it could be something dangerous.”

    “I'll be careful,” he smiled.

    She disconnected and he accessed the file she'd sent him to check what it was all about.




    Brenok entered the wardroom and went to his place at the head of the long tactical table.

    The wardroom was a big chamber with seats for all his senior staff and several spare chairs for any specialists he would need to ask for their advices in regard to forthcoming missions. Behind his seat there was a big screen, currently turned off; there were also tactical screens on the longer walls and in the other end of the oval room was a small holoprojector, which could present necessary data three-dimensionally.

    This time, however, everything was turned off, including the tactical display in the centre of the table.

    The Gul didn't have to ask if all arrived punctually and were present; he wouldn't even dare to ask his fellow Cardassians such a rude question. He looked around their faces and slowly sat.

    “We have received new orders from the Central Command,” he started. “They are quite unusual, I admit, but we have to do our best to follow them strictly.” He paused for a moment. “The Federation, namely USS Karamazov, have detected a mysterious vessel of Cardassian origin, drifting in Cardassian space.”

    Gil Ma'Kan, the warship's tactical officer, raised her hand. Brenok nodded his permission, so she asked. “What was the Federation doing scanning our space?”

    The Gul smiled slightly. “Their scans were only passive and the ship didn't enter our space. The object in question is near the border. Their scans reached a little bit too far, but no real harm was done.” She didn't like the answer, but accepted it nevertheless. Brenok continued. “The Karamazov tried to scan the vessel, but they could not gather any really useful information.” He pressed a button on a console, which was built into the tactical table's edge on his side, and the holoprojector activated and just above the table appeared a projection of a strange, but clearly Cardassian spaceship. “This is what their visual logs recorded. The vessel is surrounded by a substance of unknown origin or specification. No life signs were detected.” He paused again to take a good look at his officers' faces and assess their reactions.

    To his immediate right sat Glinn Zamarran. He was clearly fascinated by the object floating above the table. He inclined his head and studied details, squinting his eyes and tapping the end of his nose with his finger.

    To Zamarran's right sat Glinn Karama. His was craning his head to have a better look at each part of the rotating shape in front of him. His face showed pure curiosity. Brenok smiled inwardly; for Karama co-operation with the Federation wouldn't be anything special for he had his very own Cardassian-Federation war at home every day. The communication officer glanced at Brenok. “This script there,” he pointed to the lower hull of the projection, “is it accurate?”

    “I think so. As far as their sensors could tell.”

    “Hmmm...” Karama bit his lower lip. His skills in decrypting codes were astonishing and each new mystery was a challenge for him. The markings on the hull drew his attention.

    Next to Karama sat Gil Kapoor. Normally the seat would be occupied by the chief engineer, but in this special case Glinn Ya'val sat on the opposite site. Kapoor was not only a skilled engineer and Ya'val's aide, she was also a human, which, Brenok was hoping, would smooth their contact and co-operation with the Federation crew. She moved closer to her husband. “Can you read it?” she asked him in fluent Cardassian with only a slight touch of a foreign pronunciation.

    He shook his head. “This does look like the Cardassian script, but I don't know these letters.”

    Ya'val's face was hard to read. His eyes didn't leave the object since it appeared above the table, but it was difficult to tell what he was thinking.

    Gil Sabal's face reflected Glinn Karama's. He studied the vessel with curiosity, no doubt wondering if he would be able to pilot it. Gil Sabal would attempt to pilot a cabbage if he found one big enough for the purpose.

    Only Medic Taret didn't seem impressed by the cryptic vessel. “Did the Federation ship assess the danger?”

    “They didn't dare to approach it not only because it was in our territory,” Brenok replied and Ma'Kan's superior smile didn't escape his attention. “Questions?” the Gul asked after a moment.

    “Plenty,” Zamarran said, his eyes returning to his Gul's face, “but I suppose we have to study it first to get our answers.”

    “I expect you to behave properly in presence of the Federation officers,” Brenok said, raising from his chair.

    “I'll try my best, sir,” Kapoor spoke and everyone, except Zamarran, giggled. The Gul's aide didn't laugh, but his eyes showed amusement. Kapoor broke social hierarchy more than often, but she always did it in such an adorable way no one minded any more, even the strongest traditionalist aboard – Glinn Zamarran.

    The Glinn stayed behind and Brenok knew it was a signal he wanted to talk to his commanding officer.

    “Something bothering you?”

    “Gul, do we have anything on this vessel?”

    “I'm afraid we don't. Even the Central Command didn't find any trace of information.”

    “It is Cardassian technology.”

    “Yet we know nothing about it.”

    They both were thinking the same thing, but none of them voiced their suspicions.


    tbc
     
  2. Nerys Ghemor

    Nerys Ghemor Vice Admiral Admiral

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    YAY! A promotion for Karama! :D

    And a lot of things that made me laugh out loud--literally. "This is yesterday's tomorrow!" That's the kind of line I loved in Space Balls! :D

    So let me see...according to Cardassian social rules, Gil Kapoor gets to sit in a "higher" position than she ordinarily would because they don't want to separate her from her husband?

    And I think the big question about "behavior" is this: can the Federation officers behave around Gil Kapoor? Lieutenant Jeto is a particular concern. Obviously he's had a horrible run-in with the Cardassians...and dealing with them AND with someone he might see as a traitor is going to be hard on him for sure.

    On the other hand...I wonder. Brenok's scars might actually give her a way to see that these people aren't all monsters.
     
  3. Gul Re'jal

    Gul Re'jal Commodore Commodore

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    Kapoor sits next to Karama, because Brenok invited her to the briefing. Usually she's not there at all and Ya'val sits in that chair. And she was invited, because their new mission involves the Federation.

    To clarify: Jeto is a woman :) And as for "run-in with the Cardassians"

    Didn't explain much, did it? :evil:
     
  4. Nerys Ghemor

    Nerys Ghemor Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Oh, OK...I didn't realize she was still too low-ranking to be present. Though I imagine being a human and a former Starfleet makes it hard to get a promotion. For that reason I'm pleased to see she's had at least one already.

    I saw, but I forgot to fix my typo. ;)

    Oh...whoops!
     
  5. Gul Re'jal

    Gul Re'jal Commodore Commodore

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    Actually she got more than one promotion, but what happened to her exactly will be in the other story.

    :devil:
     
  6. Nerys Ghemor

    Nerys Ghemor Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Oh, OK...I think I need to learn your rank system, because I didn't realize that there was more than one promotion in there!
     
  7. Gul Re'jal

    Gul Re'jal Commodore Commodore

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    It's not a matter of the rank system, but rather her career in the Guard. Gul Tarkan made some decisions and she could take it or leave it. She didn't complain though, as her rank wasn't a priority at that moment.
     
  8. Nerys Ghemor

    Nerys Ghemor Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Ohhhhhh. I think I see what happened now. I won't spoil it for anyone else.
     
  9. Gul Re'jal

    Gul Re'jal Commodore Commodore

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    I think I need to speed up "Dragons" a little to explain a few things here ;)
     
  10. Gul Re'jal

    Gul Re'jal Commodore Commodore

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    Chapter 3


    USS Karamazov
    Argaya Sector near the Cardassian Union border
    Stardate: 73687.8
    8th of September, 2396, Old Earth Calendar




    Brenok felt the transporter effect disappearing, leaving only a slight tingling in his right neck ridge. The sensation was nothing new for him and he didn't give it much thought usually, but this was far from 'usually'. There, in front of him, stood a group of aliens, with whom he and his crew were supposed to co-operate. He had no idea how far that co-operation would have to go and how close they would have to work together, but he was worried. He had nothing against aliens, but with time he grew distrustful of them. The Klingons, the Jem'Hadar and others brought a lot of pain to his life and in spite of knowing these people here didn't have hostile intentions, he wasn't sure he was able to fully trust them. He grew beyond the naïve boy he used to be when he had experienced his first contact with non-Cardassians.

    “Welcome to USS Karamazov,” a lanky Andorian stepped forward and bowed slightly, his antennae bent backward. Brenok wished he knew what it meant. “I am Captain th'Arshar. This is my first officer, Commander Ronus,” he pointed to a Trill man just behind him. “And Lieutenant Av'Roo, our scientist.”

    The last person caught Brenok's attention. It was a... bird. A big, tall, yellow bird, wearing an obviously specially designed for him? her? Starfleet uniform. The bird was much taller than the other men, its wings reached even above its head, but it had hands, now hanging loosely along its body.

    “I am Gul Brenok,” the Cardassian's attention shifted back to the Starfleet Captain. “These are my aides, Glinn Zamarran and Glinn Karama, and also my chief engineer, Glinn Ya'val.”

    “Please, follow me,” the Captain said after they finished mutual polite nodding. “We will talk in our briefing room.”

    Brenok nodded his agreement and stepped off the transported pad, followed by his officers. The way to the ready room was shorter than he expected. He knew the Federation ship was small, he could probably destroy it with a few torpedoes only, but was it that small? He looked at the Captain and had an impression the Andorian was nervous. Was he so afraid of the Cardassians? Or was it something else? The blue antennae were directed forward now, unmoving. The big yellow bird, Av'Roo, stood behind its (Brenok wished he knew if it was a male or female bird) Captain, staring forward at the wall of the lift. Karama didn't hide his curiosity about this officer, he clearly studied every detail of its physique. The Trill had a polite smile plastered to his face. Did he have a worm inside? Was he smarter than all the present in the lift combined?

    They arrived to the briefing room to be greeted by another set of Starfleeters. There was one person, who immediately caught all Cardassians' attention, but none made any particular comment about it. She, however, ignored all of them; she didn't even look in their direction. Brenok and Zamarran exchanged a little surprised gazes, but it was not the time to dwell on it.

    “Please, meet the rest of my staff,” th'Arshar started to introduce the officers. “This is Lt. Fong, our security chief,” he pointed to a black haired, stocky human man. The man nodded once by the way of greeting. “And Commander Farr, our operations officer.” Farr was a Caitian, but Brenok couldn't tell if it was male or female... and he was getting tired of now knowing if he was going to work with males or females. “And finally Lieutenant Jeto, our chief engineer. She is going to work closely with you, together with Lieutenant Av'Roo.” Only now Brenok realised that Jeto had barely noticeable horizontal ridges on her nose, not unlike Bajorans. She finally turned her head toward the Cardassians, revealing a Bajoran earring, dangling off her ear. Her face expression was cold, if not hostile, but she managed to stiffly nod to the guests.

    “Lieutenant,” Brenok smiled to her. It didn't escape him that her eyes hanged on his scars for a moment before returning to the point on the wall she had been staring at when they entered the room.

    “Please, be seated,” the Andorian invited everyone to sit down.

    The Federation had assigned seats beforehand, so there was no doubt who should sit where. Brenok and Zamarran were to the left from the Captain, with the First Officer and the CEO opposite them. Karama sat next to Av'Roo, who dwarfed him significantly, and Ya'val was next to Lieutenant Fong.

    “Excuse me,” Brenok heard Karama's whisper, “but are you an Aurelian?”

    “No,” the bird replied. “I am a Skorr.”

    “Oh, sorry,” the Cardassian was puzzled.

    “No need to apologise,” Av'Roo answered without any offence in its voice.

    “Can we start?” th'Arshar looked at them smiling.

    Karama shot a worried look at Brenok, but the Gul didn't see to mind the little cultural exchange his officer engaged himself into. Glinn Zamarran though – Karama was sure he was going to have a talk with the Gul's aide after returning to the ship.

    “Here's our proposition,” the Andorian started. “While waiting for your arrival, we had tried to scan the mysterious vessel any possible way and that gave us nothing. It's almost sure we would have to board that ship to gather any useful information. We have three well-equipped laboratories, so I think it would be the best to conduct all study aboard the Karamazov. Your officers are welcome, of course. We want it to be a full co-operation, including sharing all information and resources. We don't want it to become a race of scientists, competing with each other. Pooling our knowledge would give us the best results possible. What do you think?” he looked at Brenok.

    “I think we should wait with any decision until we actually know what we're dealing with. Our warship's science equipment might be a better choice to study Cardassian technology. Whatever it is out there, it's far more plausible our technology is more compatible with it than yours. We plan to board that ship tomorrow morning--”

    “I have already selected Lieutenant Fong and his team to do that,” the Federation Captain interjected.

    “No,” Brenok said firmly.

    “Excuse me?” the antennae shifted backward and then returned back to their previous position.

    “This is an unknown Cardassian vessel. We cannot be sure if lack of any life signs means that it had been abandoned or everyone aboard is dead. If the former, then the crew undoubtedly followed a standard protocol, which requires to booby trap the ship. The moment anyone from your crew would set their foot aboard, they would be dead.”

    “I see your point.”

    “We will investigate the ship and your team is going to be able to board it after we disable all traps.”

    “How can you be sure you are going to find all traps?” Fond asked.

    “We can't,” Brenok responded flatly.

    “How are we supposed to get there, then? To trust your abilities?”

    “Correct me if I'm wrong, but a moment ago you were willing to board the ship with complete disregard of any possible danger,” Zamarran spoke. “And now you say you'd blame us if something would happen to you?”

    “That's because we had no idea about booby traps.”

    “And that's exactly why we should board the ship,” Zamarran's eyes shifted from Fong to th'Arshar, “and be in charge of the investigation. We simply know more even if we don't know anything.”

    “I knew it would be like this!” Fong was indignant, but th'Arshar raised his hand and the security officer silenced.

    “Let's take it one step at a time, all right?” Ronus looked at his Captain and then Brenok. “You board the ship tomorrow. Since we have no idea what you're going to find there, there is no point in arguing where and how we study that. We should determine it when we know what we're facing.”

    Brenok nodded his agreement.

    “Fine,” th'Arshar said, he looked at Brenok. “I'd appreciate if you record everything and share it with us later.”

    “The Cardassians don't do sloppy work, Captain,” Brenok said with a smirk, his arm barely noticeably moved.

    “So I've heard,” the Andorian's face remained serious.

    “If there are no more matters to discuss,” Zamarran said, “we would be returning to our ship.”

    “There is just one more thing,” Ronus said. “We'd like to invite your senior staff for a dinner tonight. I understand you must prepare for tomorrow's mission, but I hope you can find some time.” He smiled and his smile appeared genuine. “It would let us know each other better and that, I am sure, would be good for our upcoming co-operation.”

    Brenok hesitated. Would he stand another hour or two in a cold room this day. “Thank you for the invitation. I can't assure all senior staff would be present, but we accept.”

    “Twenty-hundred hours,” Ronus said, raising.

    The Cardassians rose from their chairs too and followed Fong our of the room, headed for the transporter room.

    “So, what do you think, sir?” Zamarran asked, when they were back on their own warship.

    “That Trill seems a reasonable man, I am not sure about the Captain. He... tries hard, but there is some prejudice in his behaviour.”

    Zamarran nodded. He looked at Karama. The communication officer stiffened, but the Glinn said nothing. Brenok's eyes followed his aide's.

    “The bird was interesting?” he asked.

    “Very.”

    “You could have asked it if it's a boy or a girl, because I don't know.”

    “I will next time, sir,” Karama tried not to smile, but failed.

    “During the dinner. I won't go,” he added, his eyes returning to Zamarran's face.

    “Understood, sir,” the Glinn nodded.

    “Take Kapoor.”

    “Yes, Gul.”



    “What do you think about them?” th'Arshar asked his Number One.

    They were sitting in the Captain's ready room over two cups of tea.

    “Hard to tell. Their Gul is not what I expected. He's quite young for such a position.”

    “Young?”

    “You must remember that he is not just this ship's commander. This man is commanding whole Cardassian military. In a way he's the highest ranking Admiral. That's why his uniform is not black, like others'. He is something between a soldier and a Legate.”

    “You mean he is a member of the Central Command?”

    “I am not sure he is a member, Cardassian political structure changed since their last coup, but he has a voice there.”

    “How come do you know so much about him?”

    “Remember that Borg conference a couple of months ago? He had the ear of one of Legates present there.”

    “So if we piss him off, he can declare a war on the Federation without asking anyone for permission.”

    “He doesn't strike me as a type that easily declares wars.”

    “He surely is a veteran. His face proves it.”

    “That's precisely what I mean. A Cardassian with scales peeled off his face knows how bad wars get.”

    “Do you think that dinner is a good idea?

    “I had worked with the Klingons,” Ronus half-smiled.

    “They are not the Klingons.”

    “No, they smell way better.”

    Th'Arshar guffawed, but his serious mood quickly returned. “His first officer... what's his name?”

    “Zamarran.”

    “He was another thing.”

    That is a Cardassian we are used to see.”

    “Was it only my impression, or he indeed is older than his commander?”

    “He is.”

    “I'm glad they didn't make an issue of Jeto.”

    “I'm glad she didn't make any issue of them. Maybe she can work with them. Maybe their presence, knowing them, would heal her suffering soul?”

    “I wouldn't go that far.”

    Ronus smiled. “I find it a successful first contact, Captain.”

    “Yes,” th'Arshar replied contemplatively. “Yes, I suppose so. Let's hope it's not going to blow into our faces. I don't want my scales peeled off my face.”

    “Neither do I, Captain. Neither do I.”


    tbc
     
  11. Nerys Ghemor

    Nerys Ghemor Vice Admiral Admiral

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    I bet Av'Roo gets that question all the time, given that the Aurelians and Skorrs look almost identical. Seems like he's very used to handling that tactfully, and possibly doesn't even mind.

    I agree that the Federation captain seems very suspicious and distrustful, and it's hard to tell if it's based on anything, or just bigotry.

    I am definitely going to be interested to see the reaction to Kapoor...especially Jeto. I hope nobody ends up coming to blows, since I'm sure Kapoor is capable as any "Cardassian" officer, but I don't see her as a natural fighter.
     
  12. Gul Re'jal

    Gul Re'jal Commodore Commodore

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    I still didn't reveal what kind of a problem Jero has with the Cardassians. I think I'll have to do that in the next chapter, because Kapoor's presence among the Cardassians would have very strong impact on Jeto's demons, as it's indirectly connected with those demons.

    Is it clear what race Jeto is?
     
  13. Nerys Ghemor

    Nerys Ghemor Vice Admiral Admiral

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    It seems like Jeto has Bajoran ancestry, but I also think she may have ancestry of another species. Would it be spoiling it if I told you what I think she is?
     
  14. Gul Re'jal

    Gul Re'jal Commodore Commodore

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    PM me, so no spoiling ;)

    And yes, she is part Bajoran.
     
  15. TerokNor

    TerokNor Captain Captain

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    Love it when the Cardassian interact with non- cardassians and that certainly is an interessting Federation-crew.
    Karama is like always very endearing, though I guess he would not like to hear to be "endearing". ;)
    Looking forward seeing the reaction to Kapoor of the Fedpeople. They surly don´t know there is a human on board.

    TerokNor
     
  16. Gul Re'jal

    Gul Re'jal Commodore Commodore

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    With him, I'm not so sure. Maybe, if you caught him in the right mood, he would like that description ;)
     
  17. Gul Re'jal

    Gul Re'jal Commodore Commodore

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    Chapter 4


    Cardassian Union Warship Damar
    Argaya Sector near the Cardassian Union border
    24th day of the month of Lukyut, 532, Cardassian Union Calendar




    “You wanted to see me, sir,” Gil Kapoor stood in front of Zamarran's console, shoulders squared, back straight, a perfect Cardassian pose.

    The Glinn raised his head to look at her and then addressed Brenok. “Sir, can we use your office?” The Gul nodded his consent, so Zamarran headed for the Gul's room, followed by the Gil. He headed for the desk and went around it, but didn't sit in the chair; he would feel it would be inappropriate for it was not his chair. He stood by the window behind the desk and looked out before turning to face Kapoor.

    “We have been invited to the Federation warsh... spaceship for a dinner tonight,” he said. He suspected she already knew that from Karama, but decided not to assume anything. “Gul Brenok made a decision to include you in the team of guests.”

    “Oh,” she muttered.

    He gave her a moment to digest the information and then continued. “You had no contact with your own people for a very long time. I do not understand the choice you had made, but I imagine it was not always easy for you to be isolated from your home.” He took a breath to go on, but noticed she opened her mouth like she wanted to say something, although she didn't. “Speak.”

    “My home is here, Glinn,” she said.

    His face expression didn't change, but warmness filled his eyes. He would never admit that to her, but he was very fond of this young – he still thought of her as 'young' although for the standard of her people she was getting closer to his age – woman, who had chosen to live among the Cardassians.

    Almost twenty years earlier Lieutenant Amrita Kapoor had volunteered for an officer exchange program between the Federation and the Cardassian Union. She had arrived to the ship along with another Federation officer and since day one treated it as the greatest adventure of her life. The other officer requested to be returned home a few months later, but when Kapoor had to decide if she wanted to accompany her colleague – she refused.

    Little knew Zamarran at that time about her true motives. She wasn't only a true explorer for whom he took her. Yes, she did explore Cardassian technology, culture and knowledge, but not only that. Her heart decided to explore Cardassian feelings, namely, love. Zamarran was long past the initial shock he'd felt upon learning that his best friend, Karama, fell in love with this tiny, babbling and – he had to admit that – adorable human woman. She stayed in the Cardassian Union for Karama. And she never seemed to regret that decision. Now, the crew treated her as one of their own: she wore her own armour, she earned her Cardassian military rank through her hard work, she spoke their language and she contributed to the Union more than many other Cardassians did.

    Zamarran was proud of her; he was proud of her accomplishments and that she had never failed him, even if he expected from her more than from anyone else. It was him, who had suggested to Ya'val to take her as his aide, and the chief engineer was very happy with that choice since.

    “Yes, but you also have another family, your parents.”

    She nodded once, but didn't offer any additional comment, so he continued. “I am not sure if you would like to face the Federation crew now, or what their reaction would be, so I give you a choice. You may choose to refuse to accompany us to the dinner.”

    She seemed surprised. A choice was something rarely offered to a Cardassian officer; rather a sacrifice was expected. She considered the offer for a moment and then spoke in a firm voice. “I will accompany you to the dinner.”

    He didn't have to ask her if she was sure. She had made her decision, she voiced it and it was enough for him.

    “Be ready by twenty-hundred hours.”

    “Yes, Glinn,” she acknowledged and left the office.

    Once the door behind her closed a wide smile appeared on Zamarran's face.



    USS Karamazov
    Argaya Sector near the Cardassian Union border
    Stardate: 73687.8
    8th of September, 2396, Old Earth Calendar



    It was the second time that day that Zamarran had a chance to be materialised in the transporter room aboard the Karamazov. This time, however, his team was bigger and he was in command.

    “Glinn Zamarran,” Commander Ronus greeted him.

    “I am afraid that ship's business keeps Gul Brenok busy and he won't be able to join us,” Zamarran lied; he hated lying, but he would hate telling strangers about Brenok's physical condition even more.

    “That's regrettable, I was looking forward to knowing him better,” Ronus's words seemed sincere.

    “Maybe next time.”

    “Maybe next time. Please follow me.”

    He led them through a corridor and a short lift trip to a room, probably their mess hall, in which other Federation officers had gathered.

    “Ah, Mr. Zamarran,” th'Arshar smiled to the Glinn, who flinch a little at the omission of his military rank. “Gul Brenok couldn't make it?” the Captain looked at the group of Cardassians.

    “I'm afraid so.”

    “Too bad. But I hope we still can enjoy the evening. Let me--” he started, but then his eyes met Kapoor's and he suddenly silenced.

    Zamarran patiently waited for the Andorian to regain his voice, but instead of th'Arshar returning to normal, everyone in the room quieted and stared at the human woman. The Glinn shot a glance at her; she didn't move, she didn't flinch, she didn't react in any way to the uneasiness which was clearly hanging in the air. She wore her typical pleasant face expression, but Zamarran was sure it was a mask this time. She was no stupid, she knew she was the reason of the sudden heaviness of the atmosphere in the room. Zamarran's eyes shifted to Karama, who stood just behind his wife. The communications officer's eyes were slightly squinted, observant and vigilant. He did not make any moves, but Zamarran hoped no one would make or say anything uncalled for, as Karama's reaction might be adequate to every Cardassian's instinct of protecting their loved ones.

    “Hello, my name is Gil Kapoor,” the human woman in the Cardassian armour said in Federation Standard. Her voice was shaking a little. “And I am very hungry,” she added in a typical manner for her.

    Zamarran's eye ridge cocked a bit over an eye which went to check th'Arshar's reaction. The Andorian cleared his throat and looked a bit ashamed by his behaviour.

    “Welcome to our ship, Ms. Kapoor,” he said. “Please, everyone, be seated.”

    As before, the Federation has assigned a seat to each and every person beforehand. Zamarran was seated between th'Arshar and Ronus, with Karama and Av'Roo to Ronus's left and then Kapoor, Fong, Ya'val, Jeto, Ma'Kan and finally Ha'varra, who was to the Captain's right, as the table was round.

    Karama asked Av'Roo if they could switch places, as he wanted to sit next to his wife. If the bird showed any surprise at the revelation, Zamarran couldn't tell.

    “We have prepared specialities from a few different cuisines,” Ronus said, pointing to the middle of the table, where many medium size dishes stood. “Lieutenant Fong suggested to eat the Chinese way. This means that we share all dishes. Everyone can try a bit of everything.”

    Zamarran looked at an empty plate in front of him, then back at the many different types of food in the middle. He noticed zabu stew and several other Cardassian dishes. He also recognised two Klingon courses.

    “This is very interesting idea,” he commented. “Is it typical for your culture?” he asked Fong.

    “Yes, sir,” the human nodded. “This is how Chinese eat. Whole family – and often also friends – gather together and share their food.”

    “Are your families big?” Ya'val asked.

    “Sometimes they are, sometimes not. But the fact is that this kind of dining works the best if there are many people at the table. That lets you prepare – or order, if you are in a restaurant – many different dishes. The perfect number is between ten and fifteen, if you ask my personal opinion.”

    How Cardassian, Zamarran thought. He would never expect there was anything in common between Cardassian and human traditions.

    “Please,” th'Arshar gestured to the middle of the table, inviting the Cardassians to help themselves. Zamarran wasn't sure what he should choose. He didn't want to be rude and take Cardassian food, but he didn't care much for Klingon dishes and wasn't sure he wanted to risk human tastes.

    “Whoa!” Kapoor's voice filled the room. Everyone looked at her. “Sorry, sorry,” she muttered. “I just... sir,” she looked at Zamarran. “They have samosa. You have to try it. It's from the region where I come from.” She rose and reached for some kind of cutlery to pick a triangle object from one of plates. Zamarran eyed her and then took his plate and raised it to her. She put the triangle thing on it and her cutlery barely let go of the samosa-thing when another plate materialised in almost the same point as Zamarran's used to be merely a few seconds ago. Karama. Did she cook it for him and he liked it so much or did he want to try her local food so eagerly? She smiled to him warmly and put two on his plate. She looked around the Cardassians' faces, but no one else seemed to want it, so she took two for herself and sat.

    “Which part of India are you from?” Fong asked Kapoor.

    “Calcutta,” she answered.

    Zamarran bit off a tiny piece of the triangle samosa and chewed. It tasted well, so he bit more to discover that the triangle was not made of only pastry, but inside were vegetables and minced meat. It tasted really well. Maybe he should show more interest in foreign cuisines, he wondered.

    “Tell me, Mr. Zamarran--”

    “It's Glinn Zamarran,” the Cardassian said coldly.

    “Yes, of course,” th'Arshar smiled apologetically, “tell me, how are things on Cardassia now. I hope you managed to rebuild after the war.”

    “The rebuilding efforts are still in progress. It was much easier to destroy cities than build them back.”

    “It's regrettable that so many precious architectural treasures were destroyed,” Ronus said.

    Zamarran glanced at him. “Have you been to Cardassia?” he asked.

    The Trill nodded. “One of my previous hosts has. She had been invited by your Ministry of Science and she enjoyed her time there, especially the ruins of Hebitians.”

    “Yes, they were impressive,” Zamarran smiled. “Very little is left now,” he added grimly. “The Jem'Hadar know no value of history for they have none themselves. We try to regain what we can of our heritage, but it is difficult and very costly.”

    “What do you mean?” Ha'varra asked.

    “Several decades ago the Central Command started selling our artefacts and all sorts of Hebitian relics to finance wars. It was a regrettable decision. We are trying to find as many of those treasures as we can and buy them back. It's not easy as even if we locate something, owners ask for unbelievable prices and we simply can't afford to buy it back. Feeding our people is our priority.”

    “I had no idea,” Ronus seemed genuinely interested. “Have you managed to recover many artefacts so far?”

    “Not as many as we located and as we would like to, but yes, we have some successes. Still, I'd like to see our museums full of our history, for we have rich and interesting history.”

    “What does your political structure look like now?” Ha'varra asked. “The last time we heard of you there was a coup twenty years ago and then isolating yourselves from the rest of the Alpha Quadrant.”

    Zamarran smiled. “The Central Command is leading the empire.”

    “Do you have the Obsidian Order back?” th'Arshar asked.

    “Oh, no! We don't,” Zamarran laughed and Ma'Kan, who listened to their conversation, joined him. “Some things should remain in history.”

    “How about the colonies?” Ha'varra asked. “I mean the former Federation colonies. What happened to those people there?”

    “Each colony, regardless if it is inhabited by Cardassians or non-Cardassians, was granted an autonomy. They must have a Prefect, who reports directly to the Central Command, but how they rule their own planet, how they choose that Prefect – it's all up to them. The Central Command doesn't interfere.”

    “Does it work?” Ronus asked.

    “It does.” For the most part, Zamarran added in the privacy of his own thoughts.

    “Why are you living with Cardassians?” Av'Roo asked Kapoor. Zamarran heard no attack in the Skorr’s voice, only curiosity.

    “Because I found my new home on Cardassia,” the Gil smiled to the Skorr, raising her head to look in the tall bird's face.

    “How can you live among them?” Jeto asked quietly.

    “I am not sure what you mean,” Kapoor said politely, but Zamarran was sure she understood Jeto's words perfectly, just as he did.

    “What did they do to you?” Jeto didn't back out.

    Before Kapoor could answer to that Ha'varra raised his glass. “How about a toast? To our future, hopefully fruitful, co-operation.”

    Everyone, except Jeto, raised their glasses. Zamarran wondered what was inside – it was blue. He sipped. Another alien taste he liked.

    “What is it?” he asked th'Arshar.

    “Bajoran spring wine.”

    “Really?” Ya'val looked at his glass and drank a bit. “At first I thought it was Romulan Ale, but its aroma is too delicate.”

    “Don't pretend you never drank it,” Jeto muttered.

    “No, I didn't,” Ya'val answered calmly, but his eyes hardened. He knew what she was implying. Everyone at the table knew. Zamarran glanced at the Captain, wondering if the Andorian would do something about her before the situation would get out of control.

    “Glinn,” Ha'varra looked at Zamarran. “I have a... professional question. I am a Counselor, so naturally I am very interested in different psychological matters. I wonder, how did the Cardassians fare after the Dominion attacks at the end of the war. I am not sure what kind of psychological services are available on Cardassia, but I am sure many people needed a lot of help and support.”

    “It was chaos. Apart from psychological effects people were suffering from plagues, starvation and--”

    “You deserved it!” Jeto shouted, looking furiously at Zamarran. No one expected that explosion of voice and anger, even in the light of her earlier remarks. All talks and whispers at the table seized and everyone looked at the ranking Cardassian to see how he would react to her words.
     
  18. Gul Re'jal

    Gul Re'jal Commodore Commodore

    Joined:
    Jun 28, 2010
    Location:
    Gul Re'jal is suspecting she's on the wrong space
    Zamarran understood Brenok's need to stay aboard the warm warship and accepted his task to represent the Cardassians during this dinner, but he wished Brenok were here and carried this difficult task himself for Brenok was much better in contacts with other people, including non-Cardassians, than Zamarran. However at this very moment he was happy that Brenok wasn't there. He knew that his Gul had lost his daughter, his wife, his mother, his father, his siblings, cousins, uncles, aunts – the list could go on – in the Lakarian City Massacre; for a Cardassian to have no family was an unbelievable pain. If Brenok heard Jeto's unimaginably cruel words... Zamarran had no idea how the Gul would react, but he was sure the reaction would be vehement. Gul Brenok was rather a composed person, but there were matters which easily made his blood boil. This was one of them.

    Zamarran squinted at Jeto and then said in an even, calm, but cold voice. “Please, present me with at least one argument why a child that hadn't been even born at the time of the occupation was guilty to deserve to be murdered by the Jem'Hadar.” The Bajoran ribs on her nose and her earring left no doubt what she was accusing the Cardassians of.

    All eyes turned to Jeto. She was breathing fast. “No, no! You, you,” she pointed her crooked finger at him, “tell me why my mother deserved what that soldier did to her!”

    “She didn't,” the Glinn said in a soft but firm voice. “She didn't and no one else did.”

    Jeto clearly didn't expect such an answer. She stared at Zamarran, her eyes shiny with anger and indignation, but her breath slowing down. He scrutinised her features, wondering how much suffering she had to experience looking at her own face in a mirror. She clearly hated them and didn't even try to hide it. He has never been to Bajor, no one from the Damar current crew has – most of the crew was too young – but for her it didn't matter, did it? In her eyes they all were guilty.

    “Your ship,” she obviously wasn't finished, “carries a name of a murderer! He killed someone like me!”

    Ma'Kan dropped her fork and stared hard at Jeto.

    “What did you say?” Ya'val whispered, but in the sudden silence his voice appeared loud and clear.

    “How dare you!” Karama growled menacingly.

    “Please, please,” Ronus rose from his seat, spreading his hands. “Please, let's drop this subject.”

    “She owes us apologies first,” Ya'val hissed.

    Ronus looked at Zamarran, but the Glinn had no intentions of letting it go just like that. He ignored the Commander and addressed Jeto: “Legate Damar was our hero. If not him, there would be no Cardassia. And I'll tell you something. There would be no your precious Federation. The Dominion would destroy us, and then you. You owe him as much as we do.”

    “That's an interesting interpretation of history,” Ha'varra said. “Quite colourful, I might add. What do you think about it?” he asked Kapoor.

    She was caught off guard. “Me?” she glanced at Zamarran, then at Karama and then back at Ha'varra. “I know how the Cardassians feel about Legate Damar. I know how important he is for them. He is Cardassia's national hero and because of that he is idealised. But so are Federation heroes. Sins forgotten, victories emphasised. It's not my place to judge him. It's not my place to express my opinion.”

    “How diplomatic of you,” Fong snorted.

    “Whatever Legate Damar had to do, he did it for a reason,” Ma'Kan's voice was firm. “I don't care what problems you have with yourself,” she looked at Jeto. “I don't like you blame us all for them.”

    “How dare you!”

    Ma'Kan jumped to her feet. She was young and Zamarran understood where her indignation was coming from. Her adult life fell on post-war years and she didn't remember times when Damar was only a Glinn and Gul Dukat's adjutant and later a powerless puppet in the Dominion hands. What she remembered was his rise to the rebellion and a hero's death. No one on Cardassia would be arrested for talking foul about Damar, but they surely wouldn't make many friends and wouldn't be invited to many parties. Ma'Kan belonged to that passionate group of people who believed that Damar's memory should not be spoiled. And being Gul Jarol's, who was Damar's close friend, protégé only strengthened her passion.

    “Tell me, Bajoran,” she practically spat the word, “how many women did I rape during the annexation?” she hissed with hatred.

    “Spoonhead!” Jeto yelled straight in Ma'Kan's face.

    The Cardassian tactician roared and her arm made a wide swing with her fist swiftly moving toward Jeto's face to... be fended off by another armoured arm.

    Ya'val was quick enough to prevent what was just about to happen. Ma'Kan didn't seem like she wanted to give up, so Zamarran decided it was time to intervene.

    “Enough!” his voice filled the room and echoed from the bulkheads. The tactician looked at him with fiery eyes, but she submissively sat.

    “You crossed the line, Lieutenant!” th'Arshar's voice wasn't as raspy as Zamarran's, but was as strong.

    “You have it too,” Karama muttered, staring at his plate but it was obvious to everyone that his words were directed to Jeto.

    “Karama,” Zamarran said menacingly. The communication officer cast him an angry glance and his eyes returned to his plate.

    “Perhaps it would be better if we call it a day,” Ronus said.

    “No,” the Glinn replied. “Captain,” he looked at th'Arshar. “We are two different crews and such incidents might be unavoidable. If we are to co-operate we have to find a way to control ourselves. Or learn that we can't control it before we waste our time and resources.” He looked at all present. “So we will stay here, finish this good food and try to behave like civilised people and not wild Klingon targs.”

    “And no more talks about politics,” th'Arshar added.

    Awkward silence hanged over them for a while, until Kapoor said. “I can see the Federation uniforms didn't change much.”

    “No, but our communicators work better now,” Fong replied and the silence's weight lost a few tonnes.

    “I'm sorry for Jeto,” th'Arshar said quietly to Zamarran, when the shimmer of talks again filled the room.

    “I understand where her anger comes from,” the Cardassian replied. “But she must understand that not all of us are monsters. We must control our crews or you can leave the region and go on with your research of space.”

    “You seem to forget that it was us who had found that vessel.”

    “You seem to forget that the vessel is a Cardassian property and in Cardassian space,” Zamarran countered.

    The Andorian looked at him for a moment and after a while, without saying a word, he returned his attention to his food.

    Zamarran had no idea how he would file a report about this evening. Should he also include the ‘s’ word that Jeto had used? In a Cardassian report?


    tbc
     
  19. Nerys Ghemor

    Nerys Ghemor Vice Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Aug 4, 2008
    Location:
    Cardăsa Terăm--Nerys Ghemor
    WHAT?! That Federation captain didn't even bother to use Kapoor's rank! What an insult! It was bad enough with Zamarran, but doubly insulting with Kapoor.

    Jeto's outburst...painful on SO many levels. She went over the line, big time, and it's very clear that she is the one who started the fight. I'm sorry to say, though, some of the Roumar crew did stoke the fire. While Ma'Kan was right that Jeto was wrong to blame all Cardassians for what happened to her mother, for Ma'Kan to claim that Damar had a reason for killing Ziyal flew against ALL reason. She should have at least--even if she didn't know the state was engaged in revisionist history (which she should have since she knows people who DID know Damar) known better than to say that to that particular audience. And of course while Jeto was the first to use racist language, Ma'Kan was the first to throw a punch.

    I am glad Zamarran was able to swallow any pride that may have been offended by Jeto and lay down the law. Hopefully he will make the point as well once she's back on the Roumar, and she will learn that even if other people act like uncivilized boors with you, that you are not entitled to do it in return.

    And the same for this Federation captain--I REALLY hope that he will give Jeto more than a slap on the wrist. I'm sorry to be cold, but part of being a member of any military is that your duty comes first, and your personal problems second. IF he intends to keep Jeto on this mission (and I doubt the wisdom of doing that), she has to get that point.

    Both commanding officers lost in the end, though, because they didn't intervene sooner when they saw the situation getting bad. Was it because they both wanted their woman to win and prove a point? Not sure with this Federation captain, and with Zamarran I'd like to hope not.

    The only winner here was Kapoor for trying to make peace. SHE was getting looks and suspicion, and didn't let it affect her professional conduct. (That said, I still think she could have made a more forceful statement--something to make it clearer that Damar WAS both a sinner and a saint.)
     
  20. Gul Re'jal

    Gul Re'jal Commodore Commodore

    Joined:
    Jun 28, 2010
    Location:
    Gul Re'jal is suspecting she's on the wrong space
    It got so much out of hand that seems like the next chapter is going to be mostly, if not only, dealing to the "aftermath" of this dinner.

    There was one more heated argument, which Ya'val or Karama were supposed to make, but in the light of your chapter - just recently posted - which deals with the Phoenix incident, I dropped it. It will re-appear sometime later, though, as it doubtful it's the end of their problems, arguments and mutual accusations.
     

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