Star Trek: Sigils and Unions--The Thirteenth Order

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction' started by Nerys Ghemor, Aug 18, 2008.

  1. Nerys Ghemor

    Nerys Ghemor Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Thanks! Glad you're liking the plot so far! Things are about to get stranger here, though...and with these next few segments, I intend to let you guys stew over each of them for awhile before I post the next. ;)

    The temperature sensitivity is actually very easy for me to do, as something of a cold-blooded creature myself. I've had hypothermia just from surgery where I wasn't even knocked out, and I remember how that felt--even with the sedative in my system, that fear that if the surgery didn't end in time I'd just freeze. When you rely that much on the outer environment, that's a very small, lonely, vulnerable feeling when you're in a place that's taking all your warmth away.
     
  2. Nerys Ghemor

    Nerys Ghemor Vice Admiral Admiral

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    2375—The Dominion War—Five days after the attack on Rondac III
    Cardassian Rasgălor of Lessek

    “Who’s on KP tonight?” Ensign Wilkes called, using the archaic American army acronym for ‘kitchen patrol.’

    “Ngaer’s heading up the team with Prashek,” answered Crewman Yost from the other side of the mess hall. “I forget who all else is with them.”

    Wonderful,” Wilkes sardonically replied. “More lovely unbreaded, unflavored, fishlike sticks for us, I guess, considering that’s the only thing Ngaer seems to be able to manage without setting it on fire, and all Prashek’s good for is carting the fire extinguisher behind her.” The Aurelian came from a planet where all food was consumed raw; Ngaer’s lack of culinary proficiency was quite understandable in this light. As for the youthful Cardassian, Prashek, no one was sure what his excuse was other than general gawkiness.

    “Better to be on KP than TP,” Lieutenant Commander Spirodopoulos cut in, hoping to lighten the mood. “Remember who just about headed the list when they posted the newest rotation? Guess they want to show that rank hath no privileges.” The ‘rotation’ was a list of names and dates: while the Cardassians had left the delegation of most of the camp’s tasks to the beings interned there, the soldiers who had been there the longest recalled that in the first weeks there was a series of bitter disputes as to who w0uld take the most onerous duties. Glinn Va’Kust, the head of the camp, much to everyone’s surprise, had responded not with the expected torture and executions for noncompliance, but with a list that rotated each person through kitchen and latrine duties. Grudgingly, those first prisoners had accepted the rationale behind the rotation if only as a means to maintain their unity.

    Folani glared hard at her commanding officer. “We’re sitting here in a Cardassian prisoner-of-war camp and you’re actually making jokes about it? We ought to be breaking out of here, not sitting around moaning about ridiculous things like food quality and insignificant drudge work! With all due respect, sir, why are we just frittering ourselves away like we’re on some Prophets-damned vacation?” The Bajoran shot to her feet near the end of her sentence and slammed an interrobang into the table with her fist. The Cardassian guards hovering at the edges of the mess hall tensed and spun to face them.

    Sit…your ass…down!” Spirodopoulos snapped in a most un-Starfleet fashion. Then again, Folani’s challenge itself nearly defied a number of regulations, and ever since he had been informed he was the ranking officer in the entire camp, the burden of enforcing some semblance of discipline fell on him. So when the Bajoran didn’t move quickly enough, he grabbed a wad of cloth on the back of her shirt and yanked hard, slamming her tailbone onto the metal bench with a jarring thud. The Cardassians relaxed slightly as Spirodopoulos took the lead; their hands, at least, moved further from their weapons.

    “Commander—”

    “Not one word until I finish what I have to say!” he hissed with as much venom as he could manage. He sympathized with Folani; he truly did, but he had to control the situation with her lest the Cardassians control it for him. And there was something else. “When this whole mess first started, I was ready to do anything to get out of here. And understand, I still want out as badly as you do. It’s true the logistics of a large-scale prison break are daunting—but it’s been done before and I agree that ordinarily the first duty of a Starfleet officer is to attempt escape. But I think there may be an even higher duty in this case. I am convinced something is going on in this place that we haven’t seen before. And that something I want to get to the bottom of.

    “I don’t know if you read Cardassian, but I’ve kind of picked up their alphabet since we got here. If you read the inscriptions on their armor…with a few exceptions I think might be from that shipyard Macet mentioned, these people come from four ships—the Trager, Romac, Ghiletz, and Sherouk, all Gălor-class ships of the same Order. It’s weird for Cardassians to staff any ground facility on such a long-term basis with crew on detachment from their warships—fleet personnel don’t take kindly to this kind of boondocks posting. According to Ensign Wilkes and some of the others who came here first, this has been going on for a full six months. We’re pretty sure the guls of those ships are doing this on the sly. I know—I was wondering if the Obsidian Order or whatever it’s reconstituted itself as these days was behind it. But there’s something else. Tell me: is this what you remember, the way they’re behaving here?”

    Folani glared. “I don’t care if our prison has a five-star rating; all that matters to me is that we are being held against our will behind enemy lines by Cardassians.”

    “I understand your anger. Not all of it, though I’ve got a fairly good idea. But tell me…is this what you remember?”

    The Bajoran officer focused her eyes straight ahead of her as she replied, “No. The way these Cardassians behave is nothing like I’ve ever seen.”

    Spirodopoulos pounced. “Exactly! We’ve had the chance to observe for a month ourselves, and we’ve heard what the others here have to say. And it’s pretty obvious this crew isn’t operating out of the standard Cardassian training manual: not a single interrogation beyond name, rank, and originating starship—no killings, no maimings, no torture…nothing. I truly believe we are at the closest thing to a Cardassian rebel base that there is. And that’s why I have delayed attempting escape: I think we owe it to Starfleet to gather whatever intelligence we can about who these people are, what they want, and what makes them tick. And if the situation is appropriate, try and talk them into sending us home with a message from the rebels to Starfleet Intelligence. That kind of break might help turn the war, and I’m not going to pass it up.”

    “A month is a long time—why haven’t you acted yet?”

    “I’ve been watching,” Spirodopoulos countered. “But more importantly, as the ranking officer here, I want them comfortable with me—at ease enough with my presence that they might let something slip, something we can use. Maybe we can even get into the restricted buildings, see why it is they won’t let us near them.” Almost invariably, the restricted buildings reflected a more permanent construction, complete with clawlike mini-spires, than the spartan prefabricated structures comprising the barracks, mess hall, and command offices. All three were of a size that dwarfed the rest of the camp, suggesting just as Macet had said that a much larger structure had once been intended to go into place around them. “I’d be willing to bet they’re storing something in there that the Dominion wouldn’t like…which of course, probably isn’t something they’d want a bunch of enemy prisoners getting their hands on. But if we’re going to give a full report to Starfleet Command, we’ve got to know what they’re hiding.”

    Silent, Folani ran the chain of her earring over the tops of her fingers. In every tale Spirodopoulos had ever heard of Cardassian imprisonment, even the clothes on a prisoner’s back were stripped, not a single shred of dignity or personal possession left. And they said human prisoners got it easy in comparison to the absolutely bestial degradation the Bajorans had endured.

    Yet they had let Folani keep the earring with its symbols of family and the faith they’d tried their damnedest to extinguish. And still tucked down the boot of Mike Spirodopoulos was that tattered photo of Stasya and the girls.
     
  3. DavidFalkayn

    DavidFalkayn Commodore Commodore

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    Now, what do the Cardies have hidden? My enemy's enemy isn't necessarily my friend--he's merely my enemy's enemy.
     
  4. TheLoneRedshirt

    TheLoneRedshirt Commodore Commodore

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    Somehow, I thing this group of Cardassians might be more forgiving of an escape attempt than of spying.
     
  5. Nerys Ghemor

    Nerys Ghemor Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Interesting analyses...we shall see what plays out here! :devil:
     
  6. Mistral

    Mistral Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Nice Cardies? Hmmph. We'll see.
     
  7. Nerys Ghemor

    Nerys Ghemor Vice Admiral Admiral

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    You'll see--tomorrow things are going to go more than a little bit crazy and, I have a feeling, cause a bit of a stir in the peanut gallery. Mwaaahahaha... :evil:
     
  8. Nerys Ghemor

    Nerys Ghemor Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Here it comes...I promise, the hints were there all along.

    (Oh...and you also get to meet Tayben again, even though he's not called by name. Remember--he's a pre-relaunch DS9 novel character. Let's see if anybody figures him out this time...)

    ============

    Hands shook him awake. The Starfleet soldier started violently, nearly wrapping his hands around the throat of the adversary who dared roust him this long before sunrise. That Spirodopoulos restrained himself turned out to be a lifesaver: the men to waken him were Cardassians, Ador and Prashek. In the intense glow of stars unshrouded by city lights he could make out the young Prashek gesturing with a finger to his mouth to be quiet. They want to sneak me out of the barracks in the middle of the night, fine, Spirodopoulos thought. But if I don’t come back, all bets are off. It was him the Starfleet contingent was holding on for, of course, and that burden weighed upon him…but something told him that if he vanished, the rest would abandon his intelligence-gathering mission. And they would be perfectly right to do so.

    Prashek nudged Spirodopoulos out the door past the other bunks where thirty other men slept—or if they weren’t asleep, wisely pretended to be. Once outside, the Cardassian guards led him towards a squat, prefabricated structure not unlike a Quonset hut that he recognized even in his half-asleep state as the base commander’s office. What the hell could I have done to piss off Va’Kust so badly that he would feel the need to drag me in here at oh-dark-hundred hours to rake me over the coals? The glinn in charge of the prison camp had shown a near-Vulcan temperament to the prisoners and as Spirodopoulos knew from long experience not just on the battlefield but as a security officer, those were often the exact sort of people who when they snapped, raged like a Category-5 hurricane and left just as wide a swath of pulverized wreckage in their wake.

    Then he thought back to the scene with Folani in the mess hall and his subsequent comments. His stomach sank into and very nearly onto his shoes. There had been more than enough in that conversation to mark him as potential trouble, and if Glinn Va’Kust needed some rope to hang him by, Spirodopoulos had more than amply provided it.

    The door to the commander’s office stood open, the vast silhouette of Va’Kust carving a gaping hole in the light. “Lieutenant Commander Spirodopoulos,” the glinn rumbled with all the grace of a tank over the alien rank and name. “Kiba’avzayn.” Prolonged exposure to the Cardassians had resulted in the rather disconcerting effect of hearing beyond the Universal Translator to the original Cardăsda, when the words were familiar to him. Va’Kust’s greeting he recognized as a reasonably cordial one; nor did he discern any particular animosity in the man’s tone. Spirodopoulos had learned this word from informal language lessons a few of the guards were running to kill the boredom from which guards and prisoners alike suffered: to judge from some of the comments he’d managed to overhear, the Cardassians were almost as cut off from computer access and communications as the prisoners were.

    “Good tidings,” Spirodopoulos replied with a reasonably faithful translation of Va’Kust’s greeting, figuring now was not the time to risk angering the man by mangling his language.

    The base commander acknowledged the effort with a brief bow of the head. “Come in,” he commanded sotto voce. “Prashek, Ador…you may wait in the adjoining room.” Once the guards absented themselves, he slapped his wristcommunicator. “Va’Kust to Gul Rebek. He’s here.”

    Acknowledged—on our way,” came a crisp feminine voice: soprano, but substantive, the powerful voice of a cathedral singer.

    Five Cardassians entered from the opposite direction to the one in which Ador and Prashek had retreated. The inscriptions on the armor of four of the five identified them as guls, one for each of the four ships from whom the camp personnel came. The fifth, a glinn with what almost looked like a receding hairline, accompanied a gul who looked at least twenty years younger than his subordinate. This gul stood with his hands folded behind his back, lake-clear eyes drinking in his surroundings, an odd sort of wariness as he evaluated Spirodopoulos: as if the man wanted very badly to trust but something held him back. Weird, Spirodopoulos thought. I should be the one concerned about what he’s going to do, not the other way around…

    A lone female stood out from the gathering, her black hair in long braids that circled her head in opposite directions like a coronet until they met at the back of her head, joined by a pin bearing the sigil of her Order. From there the twin braids flowed down her back to a point just below her shoulders. This had to be Rebek. Kind of tiny for that big voice, he remarked to himself, though at least the pitch of it seemed right. Glinn Va’Kust took up a position at her side, comically dwarfing his diminutive gul—she looked to be only 1.6 meters in height, compared to Va’Kust’s nearly 2 meters.

    Next to Rebek was a grey-haired man with rugged ridges, a beige cast to his skin, and indistinct macroscales much like Macet’s: this, Spirodopoulos had learned, marked him as a member of an ethnic minority from the continent of Hăzăk on Cardassia Prime. He crossed his arms and glared at the wall just to the right of Spirodopoulos’ head. Yeah, I love you too, the Starfleet officer snidely commented in the privacy of his own mind.

    The tall, lean gul who stood at the front of the group he knew immediately: Macet of the Trager. “Commander,” Macet began in genteel tones, “good to see you are well. I trust the rest of you have fared the same?” Spirodopoulos nodded. It was true enough: the entire group was in good health, at least.

    “I wish I could say the same of my own men,” the gul of the Trager continued. “You made the correct estimation of me earlier when I brought you here: I and the others with me have entered into active rebellion against the Dominion. It has cost us dearly…but we know that if this war continues, the losses to all our peoples will be far more staggering and frankly—the fate visited upon Cardassia is not one I would wish upon anyone now that I know it firsthand.”

    “Your concern is touching,” Spirodopoulos coldly remarked as the accumulated frustration of a month’s confinement spilled forth, “but the fact remains that from where I stand, I’m the one in captivity and you’re the one roaming free. Tell me why you dragged me here into what looks like some sort of high-level meeting…and I’m the one who doesn’t exactly match the rest.” Part of him remarked at how similar his words sounded to Ensign Folani’s—but before his people, he as their commanding officer was not at liberty to speak so freely. He cursed himself. Restraint and higher duty had been easy to extol away from the architects of this entire situation but not so easy to demonstrate in this room.

    The gul to Macet’s left, whose armor declared him the commander of the Ghiletz deepened his already impressive scowl, to Spirodopoulos’ amazement, and formed a fist. Macet’s hand flew immediately to clasp the other’s shoulder in a gesture that managed to look both commanding and deferential at the same time. “Please, Gul Speros. How have we felt on the bridges of our own ships all this time? Give this man some latitude, if you would.

    “Commander,” Macet said, stepping forward, “I don’t know how much you’ve been told of the progress of the war since you came here, but things have taken a grave turn for the worse for everyone threatened by the Dominion. The Breen answer to the Dominion now and they wield an energy dissipater that has knocked the Federation and Romulan fleets out of the fight. Only the Klingons remain, and their forces are outnumbered twenty to one. And I regret to inform you that the Breen breached the defenses of Terhăn Terăm and attacked San Francisco. Starfleet’s facilities took the brunt of the assault, but the civilian areas took serious damage as well.”

    Earth! The news slammed into Spirodopoulos’ gut like a steel-tipped boot—until it occurred to him that would be exactly what one might say as a prelude to interrogation. “If you think I’m going to tell you anything, you’ve got another think coming!” Macet blinked as his translator rendered the twisted grammar a little too accurately.

    “We’re not here for information,” said the young gul on the far right, stepping forward in Macet’s silence. “And I understand the position you’re in…and your skepticism…more than you’d think. But consider—if what Gul Macet just told you is correct, that means your people are almost defenseless. With that in mind, please listen to the rest of what we have to say.

    “The four of us—” he gestured with a sweep of the eyes, never unclasping his hands from behind his back, “are about to seize the shipyard on this planet and from there, the orbital drydocks. There are a number of new vessels here, including an enhanced Gălor in orbit, which we intend to commandeer before the Dominion can take control of it. They have a chokehold on our troop movements; there is no way to draw reinforcements from Cardassia with or without their permission. It’s been tried…and that gul and his entire senior staff were caught and executed. This means our crews are stretched quite thin. For us to man the Gălor, not to mention the assortment of smaller vessels, would be impossible.”

    “And this has to do with me how?”

    Macet took over. “We offer you the opportunity to take the fight to the Dominion behind their lines when the rest of your people cannot,” he said. “Between our crews, the base personnel, and your people…we would have enough to raise something of a rapid strike force.”

    And with that—everything snapped into place: the maneuver on AR-558, the secrecy aboard the Trager, the low-tech prison camp, even the Federation-like treatment of prisoners...everything. There was nothing he could do, not even with two glinns and four guls all armed and all staring straight at him, to keep his internal reactor from meltdown. “Holy shit!” he bellowed, not caring how the Cardassians’ translators took the abuse. “Holy shit! This is what you’ve had in mind all along! This is a garrison you’ve been building here, isn’t it?” His finger stabbed towards Macet’s chest. “Do you have any idea how many interstellar laws you’d violate by forcing us to be your cannon fodder? You’re out of your god—”

    Stop!” Macet snapped, hooded eyes flaring with indignation. “You haven’t let me finish—there is no coercion! We Cardassians know enough by now about serving as live targets against our wills, and that is not what we are doing here. This is not about coercion. It’s about choice. My hope—”

    “And exactly what would be my incentive to fight for a foreign power? You can’t buy me—I don’t need money where I come from. You can’t convince me your cause is worthier than that of the Federation because I know where my loyalties lie. I know what ‘choices’ people have to make when they fall into Cardassian hands, and I choose death over betrayal!”

    “So do I!” the bearded Cardassian retorted with equal ferocity. “I am already dead in the eyes of those who claim the leadership of Cardassia, because I refuse to stand by and watch the Dominion betray my people and I have already once struck back against them. Your choice does not involve death or torture or anything else you have ascribed to me after interrupting me for the second time in a row!”

    Macet paused, probing Spirodopoulos’ demeanor. Finding him satisfactorily silenced, Macet spoke again, his voice lowered an entire octave. “No one has to join our rebellion who does not wish to. Those who do not will be freed into the foothills with food, water, and a map detailing where they will be safest from Dominion detection. We also will provide a comm beacon to monitor news of the war; eventually you could use it to signal a Federation vessel should one enter the system, and return home to your families. Whichever way you choose, I would like to see as many of you make it home as possible.

    “But if you do join us…I promise you the chance to do what the rest of your people currently lack the technological wherewithal to accomplish: to help us truly make a difference for ourselves and the rest of the quadrant. We would not simply send you to die—you would not leave without proper supplies any more than we would send you into the foothills that way. And on that subject, I understand from Glinn Va’Kust that you had some questions about the restricted buildings.” Damn it! Spirodopoulos swore to himself. If this little meeting hadn’t taken a turn for the insane, I would already be dead! Come to think of it, his spat with Folani probably had dropped the ambient noise level in the mess hall to a point where the rest of the conversation was an open book to all. Damn!

    Va’Kust laughed softly under his breath. “Cardassian hearing may be weaker than yours, Commander—but contrary to popular belief we’re far from deaf. Had the guls not arrived tonight, this meeting would have been a warning to be more discreet.” Oh, yeah, go and rub it in, he thought bitterly, nearly missing the fact that Va’Kust had never envisioned his death. “We’re not on opposite sides. I was wary when Gul Rebek informed me I was her choice to come here, but the more I’ve dealt with your people, the more I have come to believe this might be viable after all. I’ve come to see that your loyalty to your Federation means just as much to you as any Cardassian’s loyalty to his own world, even if you show it differently. And though I’m not privy to everything my superiors are…it looks to me like a situation where those loyalties converge.”

    Is there even one of these men who couldn’t walk onto the Academy forensics team and hold his own against the entire lot of them from sheer stubbornness? Spirodopoulos noted with annoyance. The damned thing of it was, the combined effect of Macet, Va’Kust, and the gul whose name he had never managed to catch, was growing rather persuasive. “It wouldn’t be easy to convince this entire crew of that,” he mused. “Even getting them to believe the situation for the Federation is as bad as you say it is would be tough. That’s something I’m finding difficult to swallow—I have no real evidence except your word.”

    “Is that so?” interjected Macet. “I think, in the persons of those Federation soldiers who have been here the longest, you have a plethora of evidence. In Ensign Folani and Crewman Webene I think you have even more.” Macet struggled with their names, pronouncing them ‘Volaniy’ and ‘Vebiyn.’ This struck Spirodopoulos, for it suggested the man was either a poor student of languages or that Bajoran in particular was new to him. “Do not judge us as ‘Kardiy-çăs,’” he insisted, bending the Federation Standard epithet into the Cardăsda plural for foreign loanwords. Macet practically spat the rest. “Judge us by our actions. Nor should I be judged by my cousin. I will not have my fate tied to his any longer!”

    Dukat’s
    cousin! Spirodopoulos marveled. The blood tie explained much …and, he was forced to admit, it had to be driving some of the cognitive dissonance, for Macet’s proposals and demeanor clashed violently with that unnerving resemblance. “I can’t make a decision on something this drastic right away,” Spirodopoulos finally replied. “And even if I had, I can’t just drag everyone into it without any say in it.”

    “Understandable,” Macet acknowledged.

    Va’Kust spoke up again. “You’ll have the mess hall entirely to yourselves tomorrow; I’ll see to it. Just one thing,” he added, lifting one stern pylon of a finger. “Don’t discuss the restricted buildings…just tell them we have a way to provide what you’d require. I am trusting you to be responsible with this knowledge, Spirodopoulos. You have us well outnumbered and we’ve just put into your hands the means to destroy us all. Show me with your actions that I’ve judged you correctly.”

    Oh, God…just
    what am I getting myself into?

    The Starfleet soldier straightened his shoulders, closing his eyes for a moment and drawing in a deep breath as he prayed that he did not swear himself into treason. He nodded then, addressing all six Cardassians.

    “You have my word.”
     
  9. Mistral

    Mistral Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Hells yeah, this is turning into one rollercoaster of a ride! Nerys-you have a twisted and devious mind which lends itself to excellent storytelling.
     
  10. Nerys Ghemor

    Nerys Ghemor Vice Admiral Admiral

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    WHEW!!!

    VERY glad you're liking it--in posting this, I felt like I was hanging it all out on the line just as much as every single person in the room in that scene! (Well, minus the possible consequences to life, limb, and liberty... ;) )
     
  11. TheLoneRedshirt

    TheLoneRedshirt Commodore Commodore

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    Well, the cards have been laid on the table for all to see. Spirodopoulos finds himself in an almost untenable position - to escape the planet and get back into the fight against the Dominion, he must collaborate with these Cardassians.

    Can he persuade the Starfleet contingent? It will be a very tough sell, particularly with Folani, but somehow I think Spirodopoulos is up to the challenge.

    Very fine segment! :techman:
     
  12. DavidFalkayn

    DavidFalkayn Commodore Commodore

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    Talk about being caught between a rock and a hard place--for all concerned. You've set up the stage nicely here.
     
  13. Nerys Ghemor

    Nerys Ghemor Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Thanks!

    I figured it would have to be a TOUGH position to be in. Compounding it for Spirodopoulos is the fact that he's never held a command of his own. I mean, he has managing experience, but there's a big difference between that and outright having command. Now it's him and these four guls. Heck, the two glinns probably outrank him too. (I think Spirodopoulos is probably a dalin-equivalent.) And now he has THIS to grapple with.

    This is a big gamble for the Cardassians, too. I mean, they've gotten burned by supposed allies before, just recently. And there are still mutual bad attitudes between the Cardassians and the Federation; the resentments never really died, on either side. There's a reason Macet is familiar with the word "Cardie."

    (BTW, I caught a small inconsistency last night--Macet should've been having difficulty pronouncing "San Francisco." I guess we can just assume Spirodopoulos was too stunned by the news to notice, and that it was more conspicuous later when Macet did it twice in a row.)
     
  14. Gibraltar

    Gibraltar Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Wow. The fact that the Cardassians are willing to bring Federation prisoners in on this rebellion speaks volumes as to their dire circumstances. Here's hoping Spirodopoulos can convince the rest of the Federation contingent to join. Now would be a very bad time for the Starfleeters to start breaking ranks.

    Really terrific stuff here. Socially and psychologically complex work, nicely done! :bolian:
     
  15. Nerys Ghemor

    Nerys Ghemor Vice Admiral Admiral

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    They tried moving their own people around--but it didn't end well at all. Macet and company learned from this and figured the Dominion wouldn't necessarily track what they did with aliens quite so carefully. Macet in particular knows a bit about how the Federation mindset works, and that's why he was willing to gamble.

    Thanks! :)

    I am very glad to know this came off as credible--I was worried people would see signs of this coming early on (there are at least three areas where I hinted at it) and might be put off by it.
     
  16. Mistral

    Mistral Vice Admiral Admiral

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    You may have hinted but I must be dense-I never saw a sign of it coming. You're doing good-all you really need is some confidence in your own skills. Personally, I think you show talent in your writing-and the care you take in assembling each sequence is obvious. In other words, you are doing great.
     
  17. Nerys Ghemor

    Nerys Ghemor Vice Admiral Admiral

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    It may be that those areas only make full sense in retrospect. But the big one I thought MIGHT tip people off was when Tayben and Macet are having their conversation and it turns to the subject of Lessek--and the discussion of the prisoners and the rebellion gets tied up into one. There's a direct reference to raising a strike force there, and I wondered if somebody was going to catch it there and say something.

    The other areas where I thought people might get a whiff of it was when Macet makes that statement of responsibility at the beginning, to Spirodopoulos, and after the Rondac attack where Macet gets concerned about having to make his case to certain "commanding officers" on Lessek.

    And thanks for your kind words. I was just kinda worried that this particular plot twist was going to come off as too crazy to be believable and I'm glad to know that's not the case.
     
  18. Nerys Ghemor

    Nerys Ghemor Vice Admiral Admiral

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    2375—The Dominion War—Six days after the attack on Rondac III
    Cardassian Rasgălor of Lessek

    “It’s insane!

    “They’re so full of crap that it’s leaking out their ears!”

    “Commander! What about Earth? How many casualties? What did they say?”

    “Are you stupid, Wilkes? You actually swallowed that?”

    “Excuse you, Crewman! How long have I been here, and how long have you?”

    “It’s a hell of a chance to stick it to the Dominion!”

    “They’ll just pick us off on the way out the door!”

    “Logic dictates they have had the opportunity to do that every day, but the fact that they have not dispensed with us to reallocate their resources elsewhere speaks volumes.”

    “If they’re really going to arm us, why don’t we just take the weapons and—”

    The free-for-all had been going on for a full five minutes, and Spirodopoulos had had every intention of letting it go for another few before intervening. They had to work it out of their systems—but that last comment was too much. Did Lieutenant Haeruuh really want to give the Cardassians a reason to do what Chief Librescu suggested they would? They might not be present in the room, but any suggestion outside the confines of the mess hall that Haeruuh’s statement might represent even a sizable minority consensus was the last thing Spirodopoulos needed right now.

    Maybe standing back and letting them hash it out wasn’t the smartest idea after all. Yeah, I’m not anybody’s captain here, but I guess I really should’ve moderated this thing a lot more…here’s to hoping I can salvage this before I miss the window of opportunity completely!

    The ranking Federation officer clambered onto a bench, cupped his hands around his mouth, and bellowed, “STOP IT!

    To his astonishment, all one hundred and twenty-six beings fell silent. One month ago, he had been a soldier and former shipboard security head with little more to think about than holding the line on some accursed rock in the Chin’toka system. He hadn’t even been the commanding officer of the entire garrison; that was Commander Settles’ problem. And now, simply because he happened to be the highest-ranking officer these dissidents had managed to snatch up, he was the man who might hold the key to a chance to really stir things up behind Dominion lines. Or lead us all to our graves. Or the largest mass court-martial Starfleet has ever seen. He hadn’t forgotten any of that—not in the slightest. And he was exhausted—or should have been. But something within him was on fire. The more he had tossed and turned that sleepless night-into-morning, the more he listened now…the more he realized his mind was irrevocably made up.

    “I understand how much I’m asking of you,” he acknowledged, “and that’s why I’m not just ordering you to do it. After a great deal of thought, I have come to believe that if the Federation truly is in the situation these Cardassians have said it is, and they really are willing to put us on an even footing with them, weapons and all…then we may be just about the only Federation citizens in a position to fight. Everything about this place says to me they’re desperate and they’re in earnest. Either this is the most elaborate holodeck deception I could possibly envision—and I’ll allow a small possibility that it is—or the opportunity to turn the entire war. Either we drive ourselves crazy with paranoia…or we act.

    “Even though we find ourselves in a place and among people we didn’t choose, I believe taking the chance to make a difference is in keeping with our oath as Starfleet officers even though make no mistake…it may not be taken as such by all who learn of this, if we make it home. You may not have a career when you get back. Hell, this thing might begin and end in a penal colony. I encourage you all to weigh this very carefully. But for myself…I will go.”

    Ensign Ivy Wilkes, one the first officers brought to Lessek when the Trager beamed a clutch of survivors out from the disintegrating wreckage of the Gora bim Gral, stood and strode over to the bench upon which Spirodopoulos stood. “I’m going with you,” she vowed.

    Lieutenant T’Ruveh followed next. “If the Cardassian resistance fighters move against the Lessek shipyard without our aid, especially if they must rely on a ship-to-ship assault without being able to mount a ground offensive, the odds are 89.31 percent that their efforts will fail, which will bring Dominion assault troops to this planet in overwhelming force. No matter what munitions and supplies the Cardassians are able to provide us to take refuge in the wilderness, our capture and execution following a Dominion buildup on Lessek are nearly inevitable. As resistance fighters alongside the Cardassians, we each stand a 35.29 percent chance of survival. While less than a 50 percent probability, this chance is significantly more favorable.”

    Frinx the math—I want to kick some icy Breen butt!” Petty Officer Saar yelled. This triggered a round of table-pounding from his fellows from the troop carrier Westmoreland, who rose to their feet as one chanting, “Go! Go! Go! Go!

    The next to stand was one of the two Bajorans—the red-headed Crewman Webene, rescued by the Ghiletz after the Starfleet supply ship Biko was forced to crash land on Pullock V. A ripple of hushed murmuring silenced the Westmoreland cheering squad as the burly young noncom, almost Va’Kust’s equal in size, began to speak. “I grew up during the Occupation and I have seen things even this war has yet to match. I used to pray the Prophets would dish it all right back out on the Cardassians, blow for blow. Now that it’s really happening…I don’t know. It just doesn’t feel like I thought it would. The Cardassians gave me more than enough reason to hate and I can tell some of them are just barely restraining themselves. But they all seem to agree that if they step out of line, Va’Kust will make them regret it. And if that’s the tone they’re setting from the top…then maybe there’s hope.”

    The nineteen-year-old Webene wore a bemused expression as in the wake of his encouragement, over two thirds of the Federation soldiers took to their feet. Spirodopoulos scanned the room and noted a deep furrow on Ensign Folani’s brow. Though Webene Grathis was by far Folani’s junior in age, his cogent words seemed to have struck a nerve. Something occurred to Spirodopoulos then, resurfacing from those adrenaline-engraved memories of the final battle on AR-558. That Cardassian she stabbed…he couldn’t have been any older than Webene. He would have still been in grade school at the end of the Occupation. And in that light, it was no wonder the man Spirodopoulos had grappled with had been so outraged at his young comrade’s death—especially at the way Folani had taunted him as he’d died, for everything she had accused him of had been impossible.

    Not that I’ve been much better, he thought as a Kobheerian engineer from the civilian freighter Aidos-Regaul stood and with him, the other three survivors from his wrecked vessel’s crew. The resolve of these civilians, who on their cargo runs had seen firsthand the everyday indignities suffered by Cardassian civilians in the Dominion alliance, did the work of compelling almost every other Starfleet crewperson in the room to stand. Only a few, Ensign Folani among them, still remained seated.

    Spirodopoulos said nothing—he simply remained standing, as did the other seven AR-558 survivors from the Petraeus. Folani Jederia bowed her head, eyes closed, her face a contorted, unreadable maelstrom of emotions. She stood, her eyes staring off into a distant abyss.

    “I’m not doing this for the Cardassians, sir,” she stated tightly. “I’m doing this for Starfleet.” Then Folani, who had been one of his security officers on the Petraeus, looked Makis Spirodopoulos squarely in the eye. “And I’m doing this because time and again, trusting you has paid off. I don’t like it…but I’m going to trust you with this one, too.”

    And with that concession—however desultory, all final resistance broke.

    That’s a go for launch, Spirodopoulos thought as his stomach wadded itself into a ball.
     
    Last edited: Oct 13, 2008
  19. Gibraltar

    Gibraltar Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2005
    Location:
    US Pacific Northwest
    Consensus, but only barely in some instances. I wonder just how much adversity this disparate group can take without fracturing?

    Again, wonderful stuff! :)
     
  20. Mistral

    Mistral Vice Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Dec 5, 2007
    Location:
    Between the candle and the flame
    Yeah, that was a great sequence. So, now what happens? Does Macet go, "OK, here's your new starship," or what?
     

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