Discussion in 'Fan Fiction' started by Nerys Ghemor, Aug 18, 2008.
Let's just say I have my doubts of that.
Well it all depends on who you think is worse--Gowron (who, again, was repulsed at the idea of slaying the defenseless), or Martok?
Martok carried out dishonorable orders after Gowron gave them (Septimus III), so I'm not sure how much better he really is.
"No", seconded. Plus there was that whole ridiculous "disbanding the military" idea. I mean, Cardassia abandon the military? That's not only incredible but it shows, I think, a total misunderstanding of the problem. First, Cardassia would never disband the military because military service is an essential part of their cultural ethic. Civic pride in the military is integral to Cardassian culture, and such a radical shift in outlook is completely unbelievable, and rather at odds (in my view) with any degree of respect for local cultures on the part of the Federation. Second, it wasn't the military culture itself that was the problem - it was the Union's twisting of it to suit an expansionist, oppressive state policy. It stopped being a matter of true service and became about stomping on aliens and controlling the populace (either using the military on them or by pressuring them into joining its ranks); but that was true of everything the Union's leaders took from the Cardassian culture- they turned it on itself. The goal should be to return Cardassia to an uncorrupted state of Cardassianness, not moulding them anew. The Star Trek Online timeline takes a path for Cardassia that I feel won't restore their civic pride and reaffirm their culture in its untwisted, "purer" form, it will instead destroy that culture. Cardassia without the military simply isn't Cardassia any more.
The goal should be to heal Cardassia, turn the traits it has to positive use- not to take those traits away.
I agree, Cardassia would never abandon the military, and shouldn't. What needs to happen is that the ethic of SERVICE should return. Military officials need to remember that their role is to be servants, not rulers. Powerful, so they can serve effectively (and not Federation lapdogs), but not IN power.
While we're at it...I'd say, Nerys, you were on to something when you reflected on how Spirodopoulos (did I get that right...?) would have been a MACO, had it still been in existance.
Honestly...the UFP should bring them back--raise an honest-to-goodness MILITARY force...and let Starfleet be what it's "supposed" to be.
It would certainly make Ezri happy (see my tale "A Rendezvous With Destiny")--and of courese, make Picard VERY happy--while satisfying Makis and others like him. Explores and soldiers.
Ha...Picard HAPPY with the existence of MACOs? He'd try to ban them as a "terrorist" group because they dared say their mission was combat!
I very much enjoyed the conversation between Spirodopoulos and Macet re Maxwell and Picard. I think you summed up the situation accurately. You did a great job of bringing out the subtle tension in Spirodopoulos. No doubt part of him resented the criticism of Picard, yet he could not argue with Macet's assessment. Nicely played, Macet!
In the United Trek 'verse, Maxwell indeed got out of prison, only to join the resurgent Maquis movement as a cell leader and ship's commander. He began attacking Federation ships using heavily armed modified freighters until he was ultimately recaptured and imprisoned (Gibraltar's story - "Back-up").
Maxwell may have been insane, but he was also supremely arrogant. He saw himself as the abrogator of justice, ignoring his own willful savagery. I think, in the end, he projected his own hatred on the Cardassians - ascribing to them the very evil he embodied.
As for Picard, I think he is a great explorer, an over-rated diplomat, a mediocre tactician and woefully naive regarding the Realpolitik of the Alpha Quadrant. I think his later encounter with the Borg finally opened Picard's eyes somewhat, but I totally agree with Macet's sentiment - Picard screwed up royally with Maxwell, costing the lives of thousands. He should have disabled the Phoenix at the first opportunity, thrown Maxwell in the brig, and towed ship and crew back to Federation space for the JAGs to sort out.
Mind you, I don't dislike Picard. He's the embodiment of a 24th century Jacques Cousteau. But Picard is over-rated as a tactician (The "Picard Maneuver?" Please. What a joke.) How appropriate that he was C.O. of the Stargazer for so many years. It's an apt description of the man.
Didn't mean to ramble, but your segment really got me thinking. Wonderful stuff!
It's hard to say whether Spirodopoulos resented the comments about Picard, or if it was just the fact of who he was agreeing with and the situation he's in right now. You ARE right that there's definitely tension in him as he tries to sort out the role he's playing here. Even with all we've seen so far, that tension is not over.
...Woah. Is this personal against Picard, Nerys?
Prepare for PM-age.
^Recieved. I see.
But anyhow...again, this is after the War--long after First Contact. He'd be much more receptive to bringing back the MACOs, at least.
I'm not so sure. But it's at least somewhat possible.
So sorry for the long hiatus, guys!
Here's a chapter that gets into Spirodopoulos' head. The everyday reality of living with such an alliance is far more complex than that one moment in the mess hall, and requires leaping over a lot of mental hurdles.
Fifteen hours after the Battle of Lessek
Cardassian Union Warship Sherouk
He couldn’t get the images out of his head. Even as just images, they were gut-wrenching enough: Breen attack fighters dodging and weaving their way through gaps in Earth’s defenses in a too-precise pattern, one that spoke of advance work done, no doubt by Founder spies. The Breen had tried with capital ships, hoping, perhaps, in one dreadful blow to prove their worth to the Dominion once and for all, laying waste to the most populous of the core worlds of the Federation, but Thot Gor’s attempt had seemed a bit halfhearted, a recognition, perhaps, of the staggering losses to his people that would have come from attempting it in earnest. Instead, the heavy cruisers had served instead to provide enough cover for the fighter force to penetrate the Sol system’s defensive perimeter.
And what the fighters had accomplished…if one dared apply such a word to a thing like that…it had been terrible enough.
The Cardassians’ official news agency had aired what looked like a combination of Breen gun camera footage and Cardassian intercepts of the Federation News Service’s own reports on the attack. He could see from the Breen vantage point as they’d swept down over the Academy, over Starfleet Headquarters, and opened fire without regard to whether they attacked the highest or the lowest ranking in the service.
And they’d swept over civilian targets, too...they had recognized the Golden Gate Bridge from the Academy insignia, and blown the bridge to pieces. The gun tape was clear: there had been foot traffic on the bridge, which had been closed to landskimmers long ago for fear of what modern propulsion systems might do to the old structure. A Cardassian reporter displayed an image of the Academy patch and the devastation visited upon the structure it depicted, her head held high, her eyes gleaming.
Spirodopoulos hadn’t heard the words she said, though. Gul Macet had played the attack footage in the conference with the sound muted, having apparently decided that whatever the reporter was saying, it would serve no purpose but to inflame. For his own part, Spirodopoulos was glad…the last thing he’d wanted was to hear some mouthpiece of the Dominion-absorbed Cardassian state trumpeting the deaths of so many of his people.
And who knows how many of the dead I know? My professors—and God only knows who might’ve been visiting at the time. And the staff officers…do I know any of them?
His dread only compounded when he thought how many others in the Thirteenth Order might have lost people they knew…maybe even friends or loved ones. And there was no way to know, here.
There was much Spirodopoulos could not know here. If I’d seen this same footage two weeks ago, he questioned himself, what would I have thought of it? Would I have believed it?
Anything could be doctored…even in the late 20th century that had been true of visual footage, and by the 21st century the results were virtually indistinguishable from reality, if the right techniques were used. On a Starfleet vessel, there were certain safeguards a communications specialist could use to authenticate transmissions from most major Federation sources, FNS included. Here, though—those protocols were so tightly guarded, and even if the Cardassians did know them somehow, they could be twisted to exactly the purpose they were intended to prevent.
Trust. That’s what it all boiled down to. It always had, all the way back to the moment of his capture, the moment of Macet’s revelation.
Even in the heat of the Sherouk’s corridors, Spirodopoulos felt a chill. How could he be questioning this now, after Starfleet and Cardassian soldiers both had shed their blood? What would the sacrifice of Ensign Ngaer, or Lieutenant T’Ruveh, or any of the others mean if the Cardassians were playing them? Spirodopoulos had already leaped…already made his decision. Either this is the most elaborate holo-simulation I’ve ever experienced, he thought, remembering his words back on Lessek, or it is what it is.
The behavior of most of the people he had met in the Cardassian Guard seemed, to him, to be in earnest. The particular ship upon whose decks he walked right now was in itself a reminder of that—here the most vulnerable and the most open of the four guls commanded. Though he could not do so in combat as Macet, Speros, and Rebek could, Berat had put his life on the line in the presence of Spirodopoulos and his men in the mess hall, after the Starfleet soldiers had been armed. Those two facts very much spoke for themselves.
Plus if it were a simulation, he added to himself with a twist of the lips, why would they put embarrassing characters like Speros and Trughal in it?
And once he’d posed that question to himself, he couldn’t help but think of some of the other sometimes embarrassing characters in history—especially a certain group of impulsive, rough-around-the-edges fishermen who participated in the parts of history he held most sacred, and whose faults it would have been much easier to smooth over in the interests of PR rather than display in three dimensions. The fishermen, of course, had ultimately followed their rocky and painful road to sainthood. Speros most likely was far from doing that—but the fact that nobody hid the man’s unpleasantness from view did suggest these Cardassians were more interested in truth than looking their best at all times.
In the end, when he didn’t overthink the matter…the truth was that to Spirodopoulos, everything looked…and felt…consistent. In the beginning—in those first few days—it had been a hunch, more than anything, a hunch supported by prayer, but not supported so much on a strict professional basis. He had done it simply because it felt right.
When Chief Librescu and the rest of his crew reported back their results of the damage analyses, he would feel much more certain in his conclusion. There would still remain the tiny, outside chance this was all a ruse of some sort—but if the inconsistencies had failed to emerge by now, Spirodopoulos thought, it was more and more likely because there were none to emerge.
Now, as the doors to the Sherouk’s mess hall slid open, Spirodopoulos looked up from his thoughts and surveyed the area. Like some of Earth’s navies back in the day, the mess hall was split into two clearly demarcated sections—one for officers, another for the Cardassian equivalent of enlisted personnel. The officers’ section sat on a raised platform that reminded Spirodopoulos of some of the pictures he’d seen of the commander’s office on Deep Space Nine, the message clearly being one of status. As Gul Macet had explained the rules, enlisted personnel were not permitted to ascend to the officers’ section without permission, but officers could, if they wished, step down a level into the recessed enlisted section. And most often, Macet had explained, the highest-ranking officers did not dine in the mess hall at all, but in their staterooms.
This sort of sharp separation was unaccustomed for Spirodopoulos. Officers and enlisted personnel carried out different responsibilities aboard a Starfleet vessel, and officers outranked the enlisted…but instead of carrying on naval traditions in that regard, Starfleet instead drew from the precedents of Earth’s air forces and early space programs. Back in those days, air and space crews had had to live in tight quarters with each other by necessity, even tighter than a submarine while in flight. In the case of air force travel, sometimes a particular crew might be put up in a foreign hotel, and one’s crew was the only support when lodging off base: after all, protection in questionable regions came from sticking close together. The same had been true of some of United Earth’s earliest spaceflights; boomer crews and some of the first ‘Starfleet’ crews, which traveled in small craft often carrying less than a dozen people, had adopted the same practice.
As a result, while the chain of command was respected, in their off-duty hours, Starfleet officers and enlisted personnel shared almost all of the same social privileges. Accordingly, Spirodopoulos noticed that all of the Starfleet personnel aboard the Sherouk who were currently on break or off shift had gathered in the lower section of the Cardassian ship’s mess hall, where all could congregate without separation.
That made the security officer and soldier in Spirodopoulos uncomfortable at first, looking at the layout of the room. If someone wanted to take a shot at them—and many of the Cardassians carried sidearms just as the Starfleet members of the Thirteenth Order did—the overlook gave them the perfect vantage point to do it. Then he noticed the deck patrol.
The Cardassian Guard maintained a much more visible internal security presence than Starfleet usually did; the deck patrol could be identified by the rifles they carried. What Spirodopoulos noticed was that Gul Berat, or his head of security, had placed two of his deck patrolmen near the overlook—and it was clear they were keeping an eye on their own people, on the officers’ platform, just as much as they watched what took place below.
And then Spirodopoulos caught sight of something else, in the enlisted section where his people gathered: it was Gul Berat, sitting at one of the mixed tables, chatting amiably with the assorted species.
“Gulayn—kiba’avzayn!” Spirodopoulos called as he descended.
Berat glanced up, his smile widening even further in spite of the caution it took him to set down his drink without spilling.
“’Avzayn! Seplotoke de’ekel!” he invited. Do join us! He did not beckon as most people might have, but his bright eyes made his feelings quite transparent.
Spirodopoulos smiled. It would be easy—and perfectly acceptable in Cardassian society for Gul Berat to maintain a stronger separation between himself and his crew, to eat away from them and not let his physical difficulties be seen in this way. And especially not around ‘Star’hvliyt-çăs,’ Spirodopoulos added. But Berat didn’t do that.
“Commander,” he greeted as soon as Spirodopoulos sat, “I trust all is well back on the Trager?”
“For the most part,” Spirodopoulos confirmed, “though there are still a few minor problems with food and accommodations.” Glancing over at Berat, he tried to avoid breathing too deeply around the bowl of toçal the Cardassian was working on. It looked something like liquefied cranberry sauce, except it smelled like a rather unholy blend between cranberries and chili peppers. And it was steaming.
Someday, Spirodopoulos thought, I’m going to have to do this man a service and introduce him to glyka tou koutaliou, if I can get the replicator to make it!
“It’s the same here—Dr. Hetalc has seen several patients already.” With a rueful smile as he glanced at his dessert…at least, Spirodopoulos thought it was a dessert…he added, “It seems Cardassian tastes in food aren’t exactly shared across the galaxy, though I’ve got to give credit to some of your people for trying. I’m not quite sure what it is about us…I’ll have to ask Hetalc sometime. Anyway, we’re doing our best to pool all of our imported recipes together, but Central Command didn’t particularly want to give its servants a taste for the foreign. If there are any among you who know anything about replicator programming, it would be helpful if they would add to our menu. But more importantly…please tell your people, if anyone is having stomach complaints or any other unusual symptoms, they need to see their ship’s doctor. If their friends are having problems, they shouldn’t let it go. We can’t have anyone falling ill from malnourishment—let me tell you, that is not a pleasant experience.”
This was a very real concern for aliens aboard a starship whose systems weren’t set up to accommodate multiple species; all it took was one missing vitamin or one incompatible ingredient to bring on all sorts of stomach upsets, nutritional deficiencies, and allergic reactions all the way up to and including anaphylactic shock or even death.
In an officer exchange, the necessary information was usually exchanged between ships’ doctors beforehand. In this case, the Cardassians had apparently tried to anticipate the needs of their soon-to-be guests—members of the most populous Federation coreworld species…and Bajorans…could call up special replicator routines designed to add or substitute nutrients as appropriate even if they ate Cardassian food. Those from worlds more infrequently represented in Starfleet—such as the Mathenite, Te-Mae-Do, were at greater risk; the doctors were working on programs for them from scratch. And already there had been a few nasty cases of what a few of the Starfleet officers had called ‘Dukat’s Revenge’ when they thought no one else was listening.
But right then, what intrigued Spirodopoulos the most was the personal experience Berat seemed to allude to. How was it he knew what it was to be malnourished? The Greek officer wanted very much to ask, but had a feeling that even with this man, it might well be a sensitive subject.
Berat was too quick with a question of his own, though, for Spirodopoulos to get even close to asking. “What about you? How have you been feeling?”
Spirodopoulos offered a polite smile. “Well, so far.”
He fell silent for a moment; the Cardassian seemed to need a moment to concentrate on his water glass. As for Spirodopoulos—his own mind still had not stopped churning as yet another test, another objection floated to its surface, absolutely confounding him with the timing of it. Should he have thought of this sooner? Could this be the point at which all of the Cardassians’ carefully-crafted stories fell apart?
When Berat looked up again, he scrutinized Spirodopoulos—perhaps unsure of the intensity of the human’s ridgeless features. “You seem to have something you’d like to say,” Berat finally announced.
Might as well, Spirodopoulos decided. “I do.” Not only did he want to see how the Cardassians would answer the question, but Lieutenant Haeruuh and the rest also deserved to hear and judge the answer. “I want to know just how it is you managed to use shuttlecraft to get us to the surface of Lessek with two hostile bases and all those Jem’Hadar there in orbit. Unless you want me to believe somehow that they weren’t around when you snuck in, or that you stole a cloaking device…”
Berat actually flinched back for a second, blinking his great blue eyes. “Spiro—S…Commander, I…” Gul Berat paused, tractoring his eyes to his utensils as he laid them cautiously on his napkin, then folded his hands in his lap. “I know nothing else but to tell you exactly what we did, and to let that speak for itself. I hope that will be enough—because it’s all I have to give.” Only after his words were out did he look back over at Spirodopoulos for a brief second out of the corner of his eye.
Spirodopoulos’ breath caught. Had he finally caught one of the Cardassians in a lie? But then some species don’t use eye contact the way most humans do, he remembered. He mentally kicked himself—one of the first things a security officers had to do was school himself out of his innate reactions when dealing with other species, for in some races and cultures avoidance behaviors signaled anything from shame to submission to reverence…not necessarily guilt, and in some cases, the very opposite.
“You might recall that the planet’s composition causes sensor interference,” the gul flatly stated. “That is only part of it. Before we even entered the system, our ships were already deployed and trailing us within our warp bubble so no sensors detected a sudden increase of energy when the shuttles would launch. Our own systems were slightly depowered…together, it looked no different from what the signature of a Gălor ought to. We entered orbit on the opposite side of the planet, and that’s where the shuttles would separate from us, and we would phase our own power back to full levels. As for the shuttles…they flew just barely below supersonic speeds, close enough to the surface that the Lessekda interference hid them from all but visual scanners…and in that we were fortunate.”
That was the way the Hide’eki did during the battle, or the way the old American Stealth fighters hid from radar. He’d been there. He’d staked his life on that hope. And he’d lived.
The Cardassian gul fell silent, his entire body—at least what Spirodopoulos could see—unusually still. I actually hurt his feelings, Spirodopoulos realized. It was not an epiphany that sat well with him.
“Ketahokrol edek,” the human replied—literally, I can understand, more figuratively, That makes sense. “Itun…nouthoreks pre’evit rou’ouk itun, tourop ed—ah…tourop edek nou.” Spirodopoulos paused. “I hope I got that right.” What the Greek commander had said was, When they finish the tests, I will accept. And with that final aspect marker, he implied…at least he hoped he did: That acceptance will hold.
“Ve’,” Berat acknowledged, smiling faintly as he nodded. “Loyot nrăkrha çad.” You speak very correctly. “We do not want to take your trust,” he declared. “We never wanted that—even at the beginning when we couldn’t let you see the truth about us. We want that trust to be earned…if you will let us.”
“Gul Berat…I thank you for your explanation.” The young gul dipped his head again, just slightly—a nod of approval, yes, but tinged with disappointment at such noncommittal words. And why shouldn’t he be? Spirodopoulos thought. God help us, we’re wearing the same armor! We have bled together, even honored our dead together—they named a ship for Ensign Ngaer! Yet to keep asking and keep asking them to prove themselves…how can that be right? It was time, as soon as those tests came back—and deep down he had a feeling what the answer was going to be…time to put aside the role of the eternal skeptic, time to pray and from there to go where the Spirit had been leading since the night the Cardassians had woken him. They could fight together…now they had to live together, and it was time for him to lead his people in that as well.
Spirodopoulos clarified. “You are earning trust.” He wasn’t sure how the Federation Standard words would translate…Cardăsda had no present progressive tense, but then again, neither did Greek, and he thought in that language, though he hadn’t allowed himself the luxury lately except for his dreams. He felt reasonably confident, therefore, that his emphasis would make sense: a work neither complete nor static, one that moved towards its goal even at that very moment.
Berat bowed more visibly now, insofar as one could do so from a sitting position. “You honor me, Commander.”
The Caitian lieutenant, Haeruuh, finally paused between copious gulps of water. The heat of the Cardassian vessel, combined with the armor he wore, had put Haeruuh at a higher risk of heat exhaustion than most of the species joining the Thirteenth Order, so even outside the mess hall he constantly carried a refrigerating canteen, and had the privilege, such as it was, of using a storage closet off the bridge as an escape to cooler air whenever he required it on shift. Ever cautious, Dr. Istep had even installed a medical monitor in Haeruuh’s wristcomm to alert the physician in case the Caitian overheated—this over Haeruuh’s protests, but when he had beamed over to the Sherouk, Dr. Hetalc had seconded Istep’s insistence.
Haeruuh spoke now: “Gul Berat,” he began, his accent rendering the sound something more like Qul Perraht, with the alien rank a nearly voiceless sound rumbling from the back of his throat, “this technique you describe—it sounds Bajoran.”
“That’s because it is,” Berat confirmed. “With modifications, but that’s where it comes from. The Bajorans…pioneered many techniques for use against a superior military force in the modern era. And they often used our own equipment to do it. And well.” Haeruuh’s slitted pupils dilated wide, and his ears twitched as if to see if the unexpected words would stay in, or fall out. “Be careful where you say that,” Berat emphasized. “And especially not where Gul Speros might hear.” Spirodopoulos could almost hear the young commander say, I have more than a bit of experience with that. “But it is true…and some of us, myself and Glinn Daro especially, felt it behooved us to learn from those techniques, and apply them—within certain bounds, of course.”
“And what bounds do you think the Bajorans should have kept to?” the Andorian zh’Thessel prodded.
“zh’Thessel—” Spirodopoulos warned—
Something flashed white in the nebular cloud. The deck pitched up under Spirodopoulos’ feet and plates and silverware slid from the table with a gamelan-like clatter. Gul Berat reached instinctively for his glass, but missed; it shot past Spirodopoulos and onto the floor and he winced even as he stood. “Forget about it, Gul!” one of the young mess hall staff called, waving off Berat and all of the others whose food and drink had scattered—but most especially Berat. Go! his wide-ringed eyes were saying. And those eyes spoke trust.
Frakking hell, Now what?
Nerys, you have once again delivered a masterpiece of characterization. This was a great piece of work
Spirodopoulos did a lot of thinking. I hope that finally, after summarising everything while talking to Berat, he can finally become sure that this is not a gigantic Cardassian conspiracy of unknown purpose. Gul Berat was right, how much more they would have to go through together, how much more the Cardassians would have to do to gain his (and his comrades') trust, what else could they do to prove that they are sincere? Will that "phase of proof" even end, or are the Cardassians going be scrutinised endlessly and endlessly their motives questions? It seems that Spirodopoulos (poor Gul Berat, the name is too long and too difficult? ) started to believe in their sincerity, but I still have an impression that he had his doubts and it would take a tiny mistake (or avoiding to look into his eyes) to cancel all events confirming Cardassian honesty and completely ruin that little trust they have gained so far.
And the Greek commander seems to be one of most open Starfleeters. Zh’Thessel's clear aggression shows that for some of them it's still not enough, it's still not good, it's still a suspicious situation
I think Spirodopoulos is becoming aware of this in himself, too. He's not at ease with his own line of questioning. And I don't think he was happy when he realized he'd hurt Gul Berat's feelings.
On the "avoiding the eyes" thing, I think that Spirodopoulos caught himself on that one, and realized that for Cardassians, avoidance behaviors of that nature are not a signal of guilt, the way they are for many human cultures. It's actually a signal of deference/submission meant to placate someone who has demonstrated aggressive/dominant behavior. (By "aggressive" I do not mean throwing punches.) It's a way for a Cardassian to say, "I am no threat or challenge to you."
There is one piece of evidence that can have a dramatic impact on Spirodopoulos' confidence. Once that comes in, he'll have to understand that what the Cardassians are saying is true.
It'll be interesting to see if it changes if Spirodopoulos makes a final decision, don't you think? As for zh'Thessel, she comes from a borderworld colony, so there is something personal there. (She's the same one that smarted off to Gul Macet.)
He becomes aware because Berat pointed that out. He didn't come to that conclusion on his own.
At least, it got him thinking.
He did, but at first I almost heard satisfied: "Ha! Goch'ya! You lie to us!"
Something personal against each and every Cardassian? Even now, when she knows that not all are the same? Well, I'm not impressed
Separate names with a comma.