Re-shaping a Cardassian: Toward the Ninth Circle

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction' started by Gul Re'jal, Oct 25, 2011.

  1. Gul Re'jal

    Gul Re'jal Commodore Commodore

    Jun 28, 2010
    Gul Re'jal is suspecting she's on the wrong space
    Story notes:

    In 2258 Romulan ship Narada attacked and destroyed Vulcan. It was a big blow to the Federation: they lost one of their founding members and many valuable people, who could not share their knowledge and ideas any more. The Federation’s expansion slowed down, too, because the Council did not want to risk losing any more lives. They became cautious.

    The Romulans, on the other hand, became very bold and aggressive, believing that great future lay ahead of them. Their empire was expanding, taking and subjugating more and more planetary systems. In early 2330s their warships attacked the Cardassian Union, which resulted in a bloody, costly and terrible war. Cardassia, always poor in resources, managed to bravely fight and defend itself for over forty years, but in the end had to capitulate and sign a treaty, which forbade them from exploring and expanding in the general direction of the Romulan Star Empire. Cardassian interests moved to the other side of their empire, away from the Romulans, the Klingons and the Federation.

    After the terrible war that had claimed billions of lives, the Cardassians promised themselves to never become to anyone what the Romulans were for them: butchers. One of their golden rules: to annex only uninhabited planets, regardless if the goal was colonisation or resources extraction.

    The story takes place several months after the events of “Nec Locus Ubi Vulcan,” Old Earth Calendar year of 2395.

    Toward the Ninth Circle

    Chapter 1

    Cardassia Prime, Central Command Headquarters
    27th of Naiyut, 511

    Glinn Brenok followed Gul Zamarran and Glinn Jarol, hoping his facial expression showed nothing but bored professionalism. He absolutely didn’t want anyone to realise how awed he was to be in this building. This was the heart of the command! This was the place where all decisions were being made! And these were the people who decided who lived or died! Sort of...

    The three from the Roumar entered one of rooms on the second floor and Brenok saw seven people inside. He knew only one; not personally, of course, but from news feeds. Legate Turrel, a veteran who commanded the Sixth Order, was seated behind his desk, while the other six people stood in groups of three, talking in hushed voiced. When Zamarran and his officers entered, the legate rose from behind his desk.

    Brenok took his time to take a good look at the other six Cardassians. First, his attention was drawn to a lanky gul, who was almost as tall as Brenok himself. The man’s sharp ridges only added the impression of threat to his full of menace eyes. Just by his side hovered a shorted man of a strong build. He appeared almost plastered to his gul. The third one, the shortest from the group, while still with them seemed to stay a bit aside, as if he didn’t want to be with them and rejected being a part of their group.

    The other group consisted of a gul who seemed quite young for this rank. Brenok estimated that the man couldn’t be older than sixty. He was accompanied by two glinns, who seemed to be very close to his age. Actually, one appeared to be older than his gul. Brenok noticed that the young gul stared at Jarol with slightly opened mouth for a moment, until one of his glinns whispered something into his ear. The gul’s head jerked and he short an ashamed glance at his aide, biting his lower lip. Brenok managed to keep a straight face and not let a smile crawl into it, but he knew that Jarol’s beauty opened many mouths in owe.

    Gul Zamarran greeted the high ranking guls. A few pairs of eyes lingered on Brenok’s long braid and for a moment the glinn wondered if he hadn’t just caused his dismissal from the Guard. The tall, slender, high-ranking gul pointed to his head, then looked at Legate Turrel and muttered, “Ah?” The legate only shook his head and smiled, while Gul Zamarran sent the other gul a frown with a clear warning, Stay away from my soldiers. Brenok wasn’t sure if the gul even noticed Zamarran’s look, because the man’s eyes were already plastered to Jarol. However, his eyes didn’t express innocent owe, but greed. The glinn promised himself to keep an eye on that one and to protect his friend.

    “Since everyone is here, please be seated,” Legate Turrel said. When the soldiers took their places at the oval table in one end of the room, the legate continued, “First, let me introduce everyone.

    “From the Ravinok.” Turrel pointed to the tall gul. “Gul Dukat, Glinn Damar and Glen Erpan.” The legate turned his attention to Zamarran’s group. “From the Roumar—Gul Zamarran, Glinns Jarol and Brenok.” Finally, he looked at the last trio. “From the Radalar—Gul Toral, Glinns Korel and Nevir.” All officers nodded to each other politely, while Turrel went to an inactive screen on the wall and turned it on. “This is a sector beyond Cardassian space.” He gave them the co-ordinates and literally everyone shifted nervously in their chairs.

    “Forgive me if this is a stupid question,” the gul named Dukat said, “but isn’t exploring that part of space forbidden by our treaty with the Romulans?” The question sounded polite, but Brenok detected a hint of mockery.

    “We are not going to explore it,” Turrel answered.

    Dukat leaned back in his chair with a smug facial expression. “Then what are we going there for? Doesn’t the Sixth Order have better things to do?” Again, what Brenok read in his voice was, ‘I have better things to do.’ The glinn knew by now that he disliked that man.

    Turrel gave Dukat such a look that Brenok was sure these two were enemies. “If you let me explain and don’t interrupt, you will know.” The smug expression didn’t disappear from his face, but Dukat said nothing more. “We have intercepted an interesting piece of information,” Turrel continued. “It appears that there is a stable wormhole in that sector. Your task is to enter it and explore the other side. There might be many uninhabited planets rich in resources there.”

    Gul Toral narrowed his naturally narrow eyes. “I take it that it has been already tested that the wormhole leads somewhere and not into oblivion.”

    “The intercepted reports claim that several ships had entered it and then returned. Safe and sound.”

    “Whose reports?” Zamarran asked.


    “Did they claim the sector as their territory?”


    One look at Zamarran’s face told Brenok that his gul didn’t like it at all. The glinn just wasn’t sure if it was the matter of sending ships into complete unknown, or using secretly obtained reports from another empire. Perhaps—both.

    “What’s the detailed plan?” Toral asked.

    Turrel sat back in his chair at the head of the table. “We leave details to you, because a lot would depend on the actual conditions in that sector.”

    “Who is the ranking gul?” Dukat asked.

    “You are,” Turrel answered and it was more than obvious that he didn’t like it. Brenok assumed that Dukat had the most experience from all three guls, so the legate had no choice but to appoint him the commander of the mini-battalion. The legate pointed to the padds that lay on the table in front of each officer. “These padds contain all information we have on the sector, the planet in that sector and the detailed co-ordinates of the wormhole. You may overview them now and see if there are any questions you want to ask. However, if some information is missing, it means we do not have it. The reports should contain everything we have. Nothing is kept from you.”

    Jarol looked at Turrel, raising her hand slightly to draw his attention. “If I may...” He nodded, so she asked, “Do these reports contain any information on what’s on the other side?”

    The legate shook his head “No. Our guess is that the reports on the other side are classified, so not easily...accessible.”

    In other words, Brenok thought, not something you can obtain by simple eavesdropping. The glinn accessed the information on the padd and started to skim through it. The data was limited, but he knew that answers to his questions would have to wait until they arrived to that system and fill the gaps themselves. In spite of a lot of unknown and possible danger, he felt excited about the mission. It wasn’t going to be just another survey, this was going to be an adventure! A scary one, too.

    “That planet.” Toral looked up at the legate. “The report here says it’s inhabited. Doesn’t the system belong to those people?”

    “They never claimed it officially.”

    “Are they a warp-capable race?” Zamarran asked.

    Turrel took a moment before answering. “We don’t know for sure. The Federation established some contact with them and that would mean that the race is warp-capable, but there is no data about their ships or strength of their fleet. It seems like they have none.”

    “When do we leave?” Dukat asked.

    “In eight days.”

    “Why eight days?” Toral raised an eye ridge.

    Turrel smiled slightly. “We estimated when the Federation traffic would be the smallest and adapted our plans accordingly.”

    Zamarran put his padd on the table. “Do you foresee problems? Would the Federation oppose our travel through this wormhole?”

    “I do not know. But it’s better to be cautious. So far, they haven’t declared it Federation territory, but we cannot tell for certain what their plans are. The Federation is unpredictable.”

    Zamarran only grunted in reply, drawing attention of the two other guls to him. He ignored them.

    Turrel rose. “If there are no other questions, you are dismissed. You can contact me any time if you have something to add or something to ask. We want this mission to succeed.”

    Everyone got up and headed for the door, but Turrel called, “Gul Zamarran, if you could stay for a moment.”

    Everyone else left the room and all nine officers headed for a transporter chamber to beam back to their ships.

    The gul looked at the legate who pointed to a chair inviting Zamarran to sit down. “Gul Zamarran, I know your service record and I trust your judgement,” Turrel began. “Unfortunately, I had no choice and had to give the command of this mission to Dukat.”

    Zamarran wasn’t sure why the legate felt he needed to explain himself. “I understand, sir. This is a matter of the protocol and not personal preferences.” Had he gone too far, assuming that Turrel wanted Zamarran to lead the mission?

    The legate sighed. “Zamarran, keep an eye on him. I don’t trust him. I don’t trust his judgement. I don’t trust that he keeps the good of Cardassian soldiers and the mission as his top priority. His lust for power is dangerous and someone must control it.”

    “Then why send him on such an important mission?”

    Turrel smiled bitterly. “It’s not the matter where he is, but where he isn’t.”

    “You’re trying to get rid of him!” Zamarran wondered if Central Command hadn’t decided to sacrifice three crews to remove Dukat from Cardassia Prime by sending them all to a doomed mission. Would their deaths be worth his? But would Turrel be asking him to keep an eye on Dukat if this were a suicide mission; would he bother?

    The legate did not deny or confirm. He simply said, “I expect to receive reports from you, just as if you were in command.”

    “Yes, sir.”

    “The reports don’t need his approval...if you understand what I mean.” Zamarran did. Normally, any reports sent by lower ranking officers to much higher ranking ones had to be approved by the lower ranking soldiers’ direct superiors, in this case by Gul Dukat. But Turrel wanted Zamarran’s reports as they were, without Dukat’s ‘censorship.’ If Zamarran hadn’t understood how much the legate distrusted Dukat, he had the best proof now. It could also suggest that the mission wasn’t just an elaborate, costly way to have Dukat dead. “Dismissed.” The gul motioned toward the door, when Turrel called him again. “And Zamarran...keep your aide away from him. She caught his eye.”

    “She’s happily married.”

    “Yeah, they all were.”

    “Noted, sir.”

    For some reason, Zamarran felt frustrated about the whole situation.

    Upon his return to the ship, Zamarran asked both his aides to join him in his office.

    “Thoughts,” he said when everyone was seated.

    Brenok smirked. “I suppose ‘terrifying’ is not what you’d like to hear, sir.”

    “I hoped for something more...elaborate,” the gul said, rolling his eyes.

    “Awfully terrifying.”

    “Do we know anything about those other guls?” Jarol asked. She was not in a joking mood.

    “I’m sure the personnel database could provide you with a lot of information.”

    “How about something that I can’t find in the database?”

    Zamarran smiled. “Toral is one of the youngest guls in the Sixth Order. Tough and wise—that’s what they say about him. Dukat is ambitious and a womaniser. Both characteristics are incompatible, so he is not as high as he could be if he didn’t step of a few married toes.” Brenok grunted and Jarol looked at him. “Yes, even Legate Turrel noticed that,” Zamarran said.

    “Noticed what?” The ranking glinn wasn’t sure what he meant.

    “He was staring at you,” Brenok explained.

    She shrugged dismissively. She looked at the gul. “Is there something you need us to do, sir?”

    “Study the data. If you find something—anything—that you don’t like or that you have doubts about, let me know.”
    Last edited: Oct 26, 2011
  2. Gul Re'jal

    Gul Re'jal Commodore Commodore

    Jun 28, 2010
    Gul Re'jal is suspecting she's on the wrong space
    Jarol co-ordinated the preparations. She had barely a few days to bring on board enough resources to suffice until the end of their mission. It was possible that they would find a way of replenishing the supplies, but she wanted to be prepared for the worst, not the best. Whatever lay on the other side of that wormhole, it could mean a lot of resources, a total void, or a fight. The last possibility was the least attractive, as damage to the ship and loss of life were the most critical and the hardest to foresee.

    Glinn Damar had asked her and the aide from the Radalar to meet him to co-ordinate the preparations. The meeting had been a very good idea, as they had decided to split some of responsibility. At first she was against such a plan, as if one warship were completely destroyed, the other two would remain without something they needed and the third ship carried, but Damar explained that it didn’t mean the other ships would be left without required supplies. All he wanted was assigning tasks to the small battalion and giving each warship a role to play, so that they knew what to do in a crisis and could act swiftly.

    She had been a little disturbed by being invited to dinner by Damar, but he accepted her refusal with a smile and a small apology.

    The last evening at home she was able to spend with her family, since Zamarran had graciously granted everyone a shore leave; no doubt to spend his last night with his family.

    Demok was planning the meal outside, in the garden. He’d placed the table under fop palms, and set it for seven. She didn’t have to ask to know that the Brenoks were coming.

    After being kicked out of the kitchen by her husband and father, she went to the table and sat in one of plastic chairs, breathing in cool Nokarian air. Since the continent was mostly agrarian, the air here was clearer and healthier than in other parts of Cardassia. A great place to raise kids, even if her family farm was a history after a series of destructive draughts a few decades earlier, which made growing fruit impossible. Her father had started to recreate their orchard a few years earlier, but it was still a long time before thin, tiny trees and palms would grow and bore fruit. Only those three palms in the garden managed to survive and now graced the place with their beauty and a smell of ripe fop.

    “Mum, wanted to talk to you.”

    She turned to look at her son. “Yes, Droplet, what is it?”

    “I talked to dad already.” He did not say anything more and she knew why: he didn’t want her to know what her husband had decided not to influence her decision.

    “Sit down.” She patted the chair next to her.

    Laran Demok sat and leaned his elbow on the table. “My first apprentice service will come to an end in three months and thanks to my hard work,” he paused to let the proudly said words sink in, “I am allowed to choose my next archon.”

    She pretended she wasn’t impressed. “Are you?”

    But he wasn’t fooled by her lack of enthusiasm. “Yes.”

    “Who is it?”

    “Is not a matter of ‘who,’ but where.”

    “Where, then?”

    “On Monac.”

    She shifted in her chair. “That far?” she asked with worry.

    “I’m a big boy, Mum.”

    “Not to me. Why there?”

    “Because this is one of our oldest colonies founded in the times of the Hebitians. This would be a great experience and also a way to see completely different way of doing things. I really, really want to go, Mum.”

    “Aren’t you a big boy? I thought you were informing me, not asking for my permission.”

    He grinned. “I wouldn’t want to do anything to upset you.”

    She chuckled. “And you’d change your decisions based on your mother’s over-protectiveness?” His grin grew wider. “Oh, I see. You count that in my endless motherly understanding and putting my child’s good before my feelings, I’d agree and be happy for you.” His smile was showing all his teeth. “And be proud of you, too.” He nodded vigorously. “Well, I hope your father is happy and proud, too.”

    “As long as I don’t enlist in the Guard, he’s happy with everything.”

    Laran followed his paternal grandfather’s example and had chosen a career of an archon, to his father’s relief. Tiron Demok had had three sons with his first wife, who had died in labour with the last one, and all those young men had been killed in the war with the Romulans. Demok had a habit saying that his heart would not survive losing another son, so he was glad that Laran had other future in mind for himself.

    She sighed and pulled her arms toward him. He almost fell into her embrace, but backed out in the last moment. She was just about to ask what had happened, when she realised that he was looking over her shoulder. She turned to see Brenok with his family, which included his daughter. Tasara inherited her beauty after both her parents and in spite of being almost raised together like siblings, Laran was not blind to her charm. Especially after they passed by their teenage years and became young adults.

    “What’s for supper?” Brenok asked.

    “I wish I knew,” Jarol smiled. She looked at her son. “Do you know?”

    “I do,” he confirmed, but didn’t volunteer any more information.

    “Look at that.” Jarol waved toward the house. “That’s what happens when men take over your life.”

    Brenok sat opposite her. “I know how you feel,” he moaned and hid his face in his hands.

    Tasara leaned to him. “You adore us, Dad,” she said, gently pulling his braid. Jarol was the only woman in her family, while Brenok was the only man in his.

    His head popped up. “Why, of course I do!”

    “To break with male hegemony,” Asra said, “I can at least tell you what we brought.” She put a basket on the table and opened it.

    “Let me guess.” Jarol grinned like a winner. “Gofut’s there, too.”

    Asra and Tasara laughed and Brenok’s indignant “Hey!” was barely heard. Everyone knew gofut was his favourite dish and one of his ladies cooked it for him before he left for longer.

    “Laran!” Demok’s raspy voice reached them.

    “Coming!” the young man shouted back and rose; he went to the house.

    The table was quickly graced by food that the Demoks had cooked and the Brenoks had brought.

    They talked about family matters, and politics, and the newest holonovel, and Laran’s plans to take his apprenticeship on a colony, but they did not talk about Jarol and Brenok’s upcoming mission into unknown. That was an unwritten rule not to talk about their work. Even if a conversation started casually, it could very easily become upsetting to everyone, so they were wise to never even start it.

    That night Jarol was falling asleep in her husband’s arms, gently stroking thick scales on his elbow, worrying about her son and experiencing nervousness mixed with curiosity about the upcoming mission.

  3. Nerys Ghemor

    Nerys Ghemor Vice Admiral Admiral

    Aug 4, 2008
    Cardăsa Terăm--Nerys Ghemor
    What a lovely universe you've created here. From the brokenness of the JJverse, you really have managed to get the best out of so many of your Cardassians. What a beautiful scene. :)
  4. Gul Re'jal

    Gul Re'jal Commodore Commodore

    Jun 28, 2010
    Gul Re'jal is suspecting she's on the wrong space
    Thanks. Not sure if this is deserved, but thanks :lol:
  5. TerokNor

    TerokNor Captain Captain

    Mar 26, 2010
    Love the beginning. :) (And not only because it has a little Damar in it, but that was of course the cream on the top!)... Is he as badly influences by Dukat in this Universe as he is in the other?

    Looking forward to read more!

  6. Gul Re'jal

    Gul Re'jal Commodore Commodore

    Jun 28, 2010
    Gul Re'jal is suspecting she's on the wrong space
    Standard answer of an author #1:

    To know the answer to that question, you'll have to keep reading :devil:
  7. TerokNor

    TerokNor Captain Captain

    Mar 26, 2010
    :p But I would also keep reading, if you answer it now.
    By the way...did he asked Jarol out for dinner, because he would have liked a date with her or for checking her out for Dukat?

  8. Gul Re'jal

    Gul Re'jal Commodore Commodore

    Jun 28, 2010
    Gul Re'jal is suspecting she's on the wrong space
    This question also will be answered--quite extensively. In fact, the scenes with those answers are already written, although you'll have to wait a few chapters before reading them.
  9. Nerys Ghemor

    Nerys Ghemor Vice Admiral Admiral

    Aug 4, 2008
    Cardăsa Terăm--Nerys Ghemor
    I should add the note that it seems there are very, very few universes in which Dukat could possibly be a good man.

    It's interesting how this version's career has been held back. I suppose that without using the Bajoran women as his "receptacles" ( :barf: ), it makes sense that he would eventually have affairs and get caught.

    I hope he doesn't have rape on his mind, though.

    I am also glad that this Jarol seems to be able to feel the proper revulsion for one like him.
  10. Gul Re'jal

    Gul Re'jal Commodore Commodore

    Jun 28, 2010
    Gul Re'jal is suspecting she's on the wrong space
    Chapter 2

    The trip to the ‘wormhole sector’ was uneventful; it was supposed to take five days to arrive there at warp six. Damar, Jarol and Korel co-ordinated a lot of details and were still in the process of arranging everything to ensure smooth work. Jarol didn’t mind that, but what she did mind was Nadar’s presence, looking over her shoulder. It seemed the Obsidian agent suspected the three aides of plotting against their guls. She was tired of being constantly ‘interviewed’ after each session with the two glinns. She wondered if the agents assigned to the other two warships also were as annoying, or it was just the Roumar’s luck.

    “We have arrived,” the helmsman reported. “I have received the order to stop.”

    Zamarran grunted and Jarol knew why—her gul was used to giving orders to his offers himself and didn’t appreciate someone else doing it.

    The gul looked at her. “What do we have on that system in our database?” Without waiting for an acknowledgement from her, he turned to Brenok. “Scan it.”

    Jarol read from her screen. “There are several habitable celestial bodies in the system—a planet and several of its moons. The species call themselves Bajorans and are a peaceful, spiritual race.”

    Brenok continued. “They have colonised some moons and I detect ion trails, which proves that they are warp-capable and do travel.”

    Zamarran looked at his aide. “Do we have a holografic image of them in our database to see what they look like?”

    She shook her head. “Negative, sir.”

    “Sir.” Karama turned to look at the gul. “We are being hailed by the Radalar.”

    “On screen.” Gul Toral’s face filled the viewer. “What can I do for you, Gul Toral?” Zamarran asked.

    Gul Zamarran, I tried to talk to Gul Dukat, but he refused my suggestion. I hope that if we both tell him the same thing, he’d change his mind.”

    Jarol thought Toral didn’t belong to the officers who blindly took their orders, but he thought for himself instead.

    Zamarran asked, “What suggestion?”

    To pay a visit to the locals and introduce ourselves. Perhaps to ask if we can use their wormhole, if they claim the right to it.

    “And if they refuse?”

    Convince them?” Toral smiled, but quickly became serious again. “All right, maybe I’m just naïve. But I still don’t feel comfortable entering their system and entering their wormhole just like that, without even a ‘hello.’

    Zamarran was silent for a moment, considering Toral’s idea.

    “We were not given orders to make new friends.” Nadar’s voice barked from the shadows at the back of the bridge. Jarol looked to him, wondering if the bastard wasn’t just planning to write an extensive report on Toral. She also knew that Nadar’s opinion helped Zamarran make up his mind—anything to irritate the political officer!

    “I’ll talk to Dukat,” the gul said.

    Thank you.” Toral’s face was replaced by the star view.

    “Get me the Ravinok,” Zamarran ordered.

    He waited for a long moment until Dukat’s face appeared on the screen.

    “Yes, Gul Zamarran?

    “I was wondering if we’re going to contact those Bajorans?”

    What for?

    “Not to be rude barging into their system without a word of an explanation? We don’t know what kind of friends they have, but if those friends have teeth and claws, we don’t want to be welcomed by their fleet upon our return from the other side, do we?”

    Dukat seemed to be thinking for a moment. “Good point,” he said eventually. “I’ll contact you regarding this soon.” And he signed off.

    Zamarran turned in his chair to defiantly look at Nadar, challenging him to criticise his suggestion, but the agent only glared at the gul. There was no doubt that there was a lot of sense in what Zamarran had told Dukat. Then, the gul turned back to face the screen and a strong feeling of displeasure showed on his face. She decided it was the time to be a good aide and approached him.

    “Sir? Anything bothering you?” she asked quietly.

    “He’s showing me who’s the boss here,” Zamarran answered in a hushed tone. This was a conversation between him and her.

    “Nadar? Not any more than usually.”

    “Dukat. He doesn’t let me forget that he is my superior.”

    And Jarol knew Zamarran didn’t like that. He had no problems with taking orders from the battalion gul, or someone of a higher rank, but this man? Not only his rank was the same and the difference between them was purely a matter of years in command of a warship, but also Zamarran didn’t know and obviously didn’t trust Dukat. His worst nightmare was getting orders from unpredictable and unreliable people. He knew he couldn’t refuse them, but he couldn’t be sure orders would be wise and appropriate. He was frustrated. Jarol remembered him as frustrated three years ago, when the gul of the Sixth Order had changed. Until the man had proven himself in Zamarran’s eyes, the Roumar’s gul always worried what their new orders might be.

    “We’re being hailed,” the communication officer announced.

    Zamarran raised his hand and opened his mouth to say ‘On screen,’ no doubt, but he hesitated. Jarol couldn’t believe her own eyes—her gul was considering keeping Dukat waiting, just like Dukat had kept him waiting a while ago.

    “On screen,” he said finally and the other gul’s face appeared on the viewer.

    Ah, how nice your aide is with you,” Dukat said, eyeing Jarol. “I will require her presence.

    “For what purpose?” Zamarran growled more than he should have.

    For being one of my delegation representatives. I have spoken to the leader of those people and I decided to beam down with a small diplomatic team.” Jarol wondered since when there were ‘diplomatic teams’ on Cardassians ships. “I have one female officer, but I could use another one. To show them we’re not only men here.” Zamarran pursed his lips, considering his answer, but Dukat clearly wasn’t interested in what Zamarran might have to say. “I await her in my transporter chamber immediately.” And he signed off.

    That was an order and there was no space for discussion. Besides, it made sense to have mixed representatives of their race for the first contact with those aliens. Jarol looked at her gul. “Go,” he said. “And be careful.”

    “Yes, sir.”

    On her wait to the lift, she caught worried Brenok’s look.

    What did they worry about? Were those Bajorans dangerous? Not according to the information she’d found in the database, so what was the problem?


    The Ravinok’s transporter chamber wasn’t empty when she beamed in.

    “Please, join us.” Dukat gestured to her to come closer to a group of officers. She already knew Damar and Erpan, but there were two more people present, not counting a small troop of five. “This is Gil Motran.” The tall man nodded to her and on his armour she read he was the tactician. “And Gil Yassel.” Yassel had to be the female the gul had spoken through the comm about. The first thing Jarol thought of her was that she reminded her of a little, fearful bird. The woman appeared nervous and she kept casting glances at Dukat and Damar. “And our team of bodyguards.” He pointed to the five gareshes.

    “Are we expecting any danger?” Jarol asked.

    “We don’t know what to expect, so I want to be prepared.”

    “But is taking an armed-to-teeth troop a diplomatic approach?”

    Dukat gave her such a look that she wished she could swallow back her words. Too late she realised he was not used to being contradicted. “I will not allow this team to beam down to an unknown planet without protection.”


    He smiled. “I’m glad to hear that. Now, none of you speaks unless asked and I allow you to answer. We do not want any diplomatic errors, because the consequences could be severe.” She was not sure if the consequences meant that the Bajorans could hurt them, or if Dukat would punish them and she was certain that it was exactly what the gul wanted to achieve—vagueness.


    The ‘diplomatic’ team beamed down to a place designated by Bajoran officials. As soon as Jarol was able to study her surroundings, her jaw dropped low in awe. The place was nothing like Cardassia: the nature attacked her senses with colours, sounds and smells. They stood on a path in some kind of garden on a steep hill or a mountain. The panorama was one of the most beautiful things Jarol had ever seen—there was a town below, bathed in rays of the yellow sun, with handsomely shaped buildings, full of trees and colourful bushes. Her attention shifted from the buildings at the base of the mountain to the building to the left. The path they stood on led to big doors, which now opened and a group of people headed the Cardassians’ way. Jarol though that if those were representatives of the Bajoran people, then it had to be some kind of governmental building—and it sure was a strange place for a building of such kind. Who built governmental buildings in a middle of nowhere, in a secluded place on a side of a steep mountain? And why?

    Jarol’s eyes moved from the big and elegant building, which reminded her of something but she was unable to put her finger on it, to the Bajoran delegation.

    Bajorans were scale-less and not grey. They reminded her of humans or Betazoids, but there was something unique to them. They had several horizontal ridges on their noses and one of them also above the hair over his eyes, where Cardassians had their eye ridges.

    “I am Kai Opaka, the spiritual leader of the Bajoran people,” said a short woman in the lead. “Welcome to Bajor.”

    Jarol did her best not to smile at the incredible resemblance of the person’s name to the Cardassian word ‘yes.’

    “I’m Gul Dukat, representing the Cardassian Union. It’s a pleasure to be here. I must say your planet is beautiful.”

    She dipped her head in thanks. “We appreciate everything the Prophets give us.” Jarol’s eye ridge raised slightly. Who were the Prophets? Rulers of this world? Weren’t the Bajorans independent? Were they enslaved? “Please, come in.” Kai Opaka gestured toward the building and everyone followed her.

    Jarol studied the Bajorans. None of them commented on the armed troop accompanying them and she couldn’t help but wonder if under their loose robes they weren’t hiding some kind of weapons to protect their Kai Opaka. The glinn wished her own commander had chosen to be as discreet.

    They entered the building and were led through a huge chamber and a yard full of flowers to another huge chamber with an oval table in the middle. There were more people in there, all wearing different kinds of robes, but there was something similar in how they all dressed. Jarol assumed they had some customs of following a particular style, not unlike the Cardassians.

    Kai Opaka introduced the other people and at first Jarol thought that it was an unbelievable coincidence that so many of them had the same given name: Vedek. Only after a moment she realised that it was a function and started to wonder that perhaps “Kai” or “Opaka” also was a function and not a given name followed by a surname.

    Dukat sent the guards to stand by the door and only the officers joined the vedeks and Kai Opaka at the table.

    As instructed, Jarol kept her mouth shut and only listened.


    When she returned to her ship, Zamarran himself welcomed her back in the transporter chamber.

    “How did it go?” he asked.

    They left the room and headed for the nearest lift. “Well, sir,” she began, “the Bajorans are friendly and very kind. They agreed to let us enter the wormhole under one small condition—we must be accompanied by a Bajoran ship.”

    “Yes, I know about that. Before you beamed back, Dukat had contacted me and informed me of the terms he managed to negotiate.” She burst out laughing and immediately covered her mouth with both her hands, trying to muffle her reaction. Zamarran stopped and gave her a surprised look. “Did I say something funny?” There was some threat in his voice—one didn’t laugh at one’s gul!

    She shook her head; her need to laugh vaporised without a trace. “No, sir. It’s just...Gul Dukat didn’t negotiate anything. Once the question had been asked, the Bajoran officials told us that we are free to use the wormhole as we see fit, as long as we do not try to harm it. And their condition was for our own safety. They claim their gods live in the wormhole and if we enter it without Bajoran presence, the gods could become irritated and destroy us.”

    “Gods?” Zamarran repeated.

    “That’s correct. I don’t know how truthful it is, but it was obvious the Bajorans wouldn’t change their minds and by their presence they meant only a small ship with two militiamen on board, so Dukat agreed to their terms.”

    Zamarran shook his head. “And he made it sound like a great victory.”

    “A lie walks on short legs, sir,” she quoted an old Nokarian proverb, which meant that a lie had a short life and the truth sooner or later prevailed.

    He gave her such a look she knew she went too far and shouldn’t have said that, whatever she—or he—might be thinking about Dukat. But after his silent reprimand, he smiled. “Get some sleep. Dukat told me that our big day is tomorrow and I want you to be rested.”

    “Yes, Gul.”

    They entered the lift. She ordered the computer to take her to the deck where her quarters were located, while Zamarran proceeded to the bridge. She walked down the corridor and couldn’t get Bajorans out of her head. It’s not the people that bugged her, but their architecture. There was something in their artistic sense that felt so familiar.

  11. Nerys Ghemor

    Nerys Ghemor Vice Admiral Admiral

    Aug 4, 2008
    Cardăsa Terăm--Nerys Ghemor
    Interesting...I wonder what it could be about Bajoran architecture that felt so familiar to her? Then again, I wonder if it is their aesthetic sense, per se, or the subject matter and mindset behind it that is reminding her of things mostly suppressed on Cardassia.

    I just about threw up when I found out Yassel was under Dukat's command. Of all the horrible places for any version of Yassel to be forced to serve--that has to be it!

    I enjoy watching Zamarran push back against Nadar. Is it wrong for me to find that kind of funny? ;)

    As for the Bajorans, I hope they'll be wary in this universe. Granted, it helps that not all members of this first-contact team support the kinds of actions taken in the canon universe, but having Dukat in command is dangerous. He's clearly just as arrogant and self-absorbed as he is in the canon universe. Thank goodness for JJ-Jarol that Zamarran doesn't trust him, and that she has learned from an example that has made sure she won't make that mistake either.

    Dukat had better not put the moves on her, Yassel, or anybody else. And not one of the Bajorans, either. I think he wanted women for his amusement, not for diplomatic purposes.
  12. Gul Re'jal

    Gul Re'jal Commodore Commodore

    Jun 28, 2010
    Gul Re'jal is suspecting she's on the wrong space
    You'll see why Bajoran sense of art is so familiar to Jarol in the next chapter ;)

    Poor Yassel really has no luck in commanders, whichever universe she's in :(
    We hate the Obsidian Order, so every slap on their face is funny :devil:
    He did it for a certain reason and the next chapter will reveal what it was.
  13. Nerys Ghemor

    Nerys Ghemor Vice Admiral Admiral

    Aug 4, 2008
    Cardăsa Terăm--Nerys Ghemor
    Can't wait to see!

    I know. I have three commanders in Sigils I wish could take her instead of Dukat, or her old commanders from the Shaping universe. Any of those three would do so much better. :(

    This is Gul Dukat we're talking about, so I guess I'd better go ahead and say, "Uh-oh" now...
  14. Gul Re'jal

    Gul Re'jal Commodore Commodore

    Jun 28, 2010
    Gul Re'jal is suspecting she's on the wrong space
    Chapter 3

    “Don’t smack your lips,” Jarol chastised Brenok.

    They were in his quarters, having their breakfast before their shifts started. It was their little tradition to do that every morning. Sometimes they ate in her quarters, sometimes in his and this morning he had invited her for ‘something special,’ as he advertised his surprise. It turned out to be a Nokarian donok soufflé; something she hadn’t eaten for ages. His wonderful choice, which reminded her of home, got her into a good mood. It was a great start of the day.

    “I’m not.”

    She insisted. “Yes, you are.”

    “Am not.”

    She didn’t want to engage into such a silly bickering, so she went quiet...and so did his smacking. They ate in silence for a moment.

    “Are you scared?” she asked eventually.

    He understood she meant their mission. “Scared? No, I’m not. Nervous might be a better word,” he admitted. “We’re going into unknown and not only have to get there through a rare phenomenon, but also have no idea what’s on the other side.”

    “It sounded like Bajorans have travelled the wormhole many times. And so has the Federation.”

    “Somehow it doesn’t make me feel any better.”

    “Look at the bright side—they all returned.”

    “All? We don’t know that for sure. Didn’t you say that Bajorans would accompany us for our safety? How come do they know there’s danger inside? Whom did their gods destroy?”

    She had to admit he had a good point. She opened her mouth to agree with him, but instead slapped the table with her hand. “I know!” she shouted.

    Startled, he stared at her with his fork half-way to his mouth. “Huh?”

    “I know why it all seemed so familiar! I know!”

    He put away his fork and leaned back in his chair. “Why?” he asked.

    “Have you been to the Ancient Craft Museum?”

    He shrugged. “Of course I have. I’m a Lakarian.”

    Oh, yes, she rolled her eyes. ‘I’m a Lakarian; you know, the artistic and cultured Cardassian.’ Lakarian feeling of cultural superiority sometimes got on her nerves. Had she ever shown a farmland superiority of ‘we feed you’ complex? She suppressed her irritation and continued, “So you saw that ancient craft which was found near Helta Highlands.” He nodded. “And those vertical oval signs on it. And funny pictures.” He nodded again. “It’s the same.”

    He clearly didn’t understand. “The same as what?”

    “As what I saw yesterday in that government monastery building.” She still thought it was odd to call a governmental building ‘monastery,’ but who was she to criticise Bajorans’ choices and culture! “The ovals were almost the same. The pictures were simpler than the ones on the ancient space craft, but now I know what they are—it’s their writing system.”

    “What are you trying to say? That we have a Bajoran spaceship in our museum? They weren’t warp capable that long time ago and neither were we.”

    “Perhaps they were.”

    “Nonsense. Besides, as an engineer I can tell you that the craft in the museum is not warp capable and it’s not capable to travel from here to Cardassia Prime. Its construction is too fragile.”

    “I’m telling you it’s the same artistic and visual style.”

    He only shook his head. “It cannot be. It must be something similar. A coincidence.”


    He laughed. “Hey! Not when I’m eating.”

    She pushed her plate away and got up; not a shadow of amusement on her face. She was completely serious about the whole matter. “I’m going to talk to Zamarran.”

    Brenok shook his head again. “Go ahead. He’ll tell you the same thing—that it’s impossible for such a ship to traverse such a huge distance.” Zamarran, before being promoted to a gul, used to be an engineer, so his knowledge of engineering was as vast as Brenok’s. Jarol ignored her friend, so before she reached the door, he called, “Wait! Why do you want to bother Zamarran with this?”

    She spun in her axis to face him. “Don’t you understand? That means the Bajorans visited Cardassia a long time ago.”

    “Did they mention anything about that?”

    She was silent for a moment and eventually was forced to admit, “No.”

    “Did they look in any way that they knew anything about us?”

    “Not really, considering their glances at our neck ridges.”

    Brenok’s face was blank. “Wh—do you mean they have no neck ridges?”

    “The only ridges they have are here, on their noses.” She pointed with her hand and made small horizontal moves. “And one of them had also gentle ridges here.” She slid her finger along the upper part of her eye ridge. “And none of them was grey. They looked very much like humans and only those ridges were something I’d never seen before.”

    “You could have taken some holoimages.”

    “I don’t think Dukat would allow any. He just told us to shut up and do nothing.” What she really wanted to say was ‘shut up and look pretty,’ but in case Nadar was eavesdropping, she kept that remark to herself.

    “So why did he want you in the team?”

    She shrugged. “Don’t ask me.”

    He grunted and took the last bite of his food. Then he checked the chronometer. “Time to go to work.” He rose, leaving the table in post-breakfast mess. She rolled her eyes, because it wasn’t the first time he did that. But it were his quarters and his mess.

    They left his quarters and together headed for the lift to take them to the bridge.

    In spite of his dismissing the whole idea, on the way to the bridge Brenok did think about what Jarol had told him. The idea of the pre-warp craft reaching such a distant planet fascinated him. It was true that no one knew the origins of that ancient vessel and it didn’t seem like a Cardassian construction, but—Bajoran?

    He remembered stories about aliens coming to Cardassia and crashing in the mountains, inspired by the mysterious ship, but the older he grew the more ridiculous the stories appeared. Even if the craft was alien and not some kind of strange, unsuccessful Hebitian experiment, it couldn’t be Bajoran. There was no way it could travel five light years under warp. Not with all dangers on the way, including volatile Badlands.

    They both arrived on the bridge and spread to their respective consoles. Zamarran stood just behind Karama and Brenok had an impression that he expectantly was looking at the main viewer, as if waiting for something to appear on it.

    Ah, Gul Zamarran!

    Brenok looked at the main screen to see the commander of the Ravinok. So, they had been hailed just a moment before he and Jarol entered the bridge.

    “Yes, Gul Dukat, what can I do for you?” Zamarran’s voice was nowhere near cheerfulness of Dukat’s tone. He slowly walked to his chair, turning his back to the screen, sat and then looked at the other commander.

    I was thinking...we have three ships in here and a very delicate mission. A precise co-ordination is required, don’t you think, mm?

    “That’s obvious.” After serving under Zamarran for almost twenty years, Brenok could detect quite easily even well-hidden annoyance in the gul’s voice.

    I’m glad we agree.” Dukat smiled. Brenok couldn’t understand where Dukat had seen agreement on Zamarran’s part. “I was thinking how to improve our inter-ship communication and I have an idea.” He paused, but since Zamarran said nothing, he resumed. “Your aide has tactical background, isn’t that right?” Without a break for any confirmation, he kept talking. “I will reassign her here, to my ship, to provide complete and detailed communication between all three vessels.

    Brenok looked at Zamarran, expecting him to ask the most obvious question—why Dukat needed a tactician and not a communication officer for that job? But the gul said something else. “Why can’t we just use the good, old communication system?”

    I believe in a living element.

    And then Brenok understood—Dukat wanted Jarol on his ship. Even if she were a cleaning lady, he’d find a reason to take her. The glinn felt sick in his stomach.

    “I’ll consider it,” Zamarran replied.

    The smile on Dukat’s face didn’t disappear, but...froze. It became a mask. “Now, there’s no reason to complicate things, mm?

    “I need her.” While Brenok knew it was the truth, he also knew that Zamarran could do without her. But he didn’t intend to let Dukat get her into his claws.

    The smile on Dukat’s face didn’t disappear exactly, but it changed its...intention. “Maybe I wasn’t clear,” he said in a low voice. “It wasn’t a suggestion or a request. It was an order.” The gul leaned back in his chair. “I await her aboard my warship in ten minutes.” And the screen went blank.

    Brenok hoped Zamarran would do something to stop that nonsense, but he was disappointed a moment later.

    “Jarol, report to the Ravinok. Don’t take any belongings with you, though, because you will be returning to your quarters after each shift.”

    “Yes, sir,” she answered crisply.

    “And notify me immediately if there’s any problem. Any problem,” he emphasised.

    “Yes, sir.” She left the bridge, while Brenok stood by his console, clenching his fists. This was not good.

    “Brenok, for the time of her absence you will serve as my aide,” Zamarran said. “I trust Ya’val can do fine in your place?”

    “Oh, absolutely, sir. He’s more than qualified.” Brenok called Gil Ya’val to the bridge to take over the engineering post and then went over to Jarol’s console.

    Nadar crawled out from his corner and approached Zamarran’s chair. “Why does he need her?” he asked.

    “You heard him. To co-ordinate.”

    “And you bought that nonsense?” Nadar asked with incredulity.

    “Not a syllable. But he’s given me an order.” Zamarran looked at Nadar. “If you have any good ideas how to stop it, I’ll do what you say.”

    Wow! Brenok thought. It wasn’t often that Zamarran was polite to Nadar, let alone ready to follow the agent’s instructions. But he—and Zamarran—also knew that if anyone here could overrule Dukat’s orders, it was Nadar.

    The agent seemed to consider it for a moment, but then he just returned to his post without a word. A useless piece of—

    “We received the order to move,” Karama reported from the communication console.

    Zamarran and Brenok activated their consoles to confirm the receipt and read the details.

    “Lasaran, enter course and follow the Ravinok. Keep safe distance.”

    “Yes, sir.”

    Brenok observed the screen. He noticed a tiny, most likely two-person craft and guessed it was the Bajoran escort. The small fighter was in the lead, headed toward nothing, when suddenly the screen filled with blue, whirling phenomenon. Brenok barely muffled his gasp—whatever it was, it was beautiful. The Bajoran ship proceeded into the middle of the giant whirl and so did following it the Ravinok.

    “How can we know it won’t tear us apart?” Ya’val asked.

    “We don’t,” Zamarran answered just when the Roumar entered the maw of the blue anomaly.

    If Brenok thought that the opening wormhole was beautiful, there was another surprise waiting for him. He stared at the screen and wondered what kind of elements created all those—

    He shook his head, amused by his own thoughts, and switched his console to sensor readings. He didn’t have to guess, all he had to do was scanning and reading and he would have his answers served on a latinum plate.

    Suddenly the flow of data stopped. Surprised, Brenok raised his head to look at the screen and saw that they had cleared the wormhole, which was announced by Lasaran a moment later.

    “That was fast,” he heard Ya’val muttering.

    “I want detailed reports from all departments.” Zamarran demanded. “I want to know about any negative influence this phenomenon had on us and our ship.” Confirmation of his order followed, while he turned to the tactician, Ma’Kan. “Scan the vicinity. Are there any vessels, planetary systems, nebulae or space dust that could pose danger to us. I want to know about everything before it hits us.” She nodded and made herself busy, while the gul turned to Brenok. “Anything from our inter-ship co-ordinator?” The glinn knew that the mockery in Zamarran’s voice was not targeted at Jarol.

    He glanced at his display and, to his surprise, saw a message. “Indeed, there is something, sir. The Ravinok demands full reports from us and the Radalar on our statuses.”

    The commander muttered something under his breath that sounded to Brenok almost like ‘no kidding.’ “Pass the reports as soon as they go through my approval,” Zamarran said.

    “Yes, sir,” Brenok confirmed crisply.

  15. Nerys Ghemor

    Nerys Ghemor Vice Admiral Admiral

    Aug 4, 2008
    Cardăsa Terăm--Nerys Ghemor
    Oh, my...even Nadar, that Obsidian Order piece of slime, hates Dukat! :cardie: I doubt he could muster up any sort of feeling like being concerned for Jarol, but that was quite something to see! I get the feeling a loose cannon like Dukat is the last thing the Order wants around. Yet at the same time he didn't have any "ideas" because I'm sure he also thinks--rightly--that if he interferes in the situation and anything happens to Jarol or to Zamarran's ship, that he'll be blamed for it. :rolleyes:

    Very interesting to see Jarol put 2 and 2 together on the crashed Bajoran ship!

    I just hope that in this universe, she can resist Dukat both physically and psychologically. That is really, really horrible, being assigned over there. :(
  16. Gul Re'jal

    Gul Re'jal Commodore Commodore

    Jun 28, 2010
    Gul Re'jal is suspecting she's on the wrong space
    I assumed that Dukat, as a "traitor's son," would always be on the Obsidian Order's radar.
  17. Nerys Ghemor

    Nerys Ghemor Vice Admiral Admiral

    Aug 4, 2008
    Cardăsa Terăm--Nerys Ghemor
    That definitely makes sense, if this version of Dukat's father has the same history as the canon version.
  18. Gul Re'jal

    Gul Re'jal Commodore Commodore

    Jun 28, 2010
    Gul Re'jal is suspecting she's on the wrong space
    Chapter 4

    CMS Ravinok

    Gil Yassel turned in her seat to face Dukat. “The Bajoran ship is hailing us.”

    Dukat glanced at his communication officer, smiled at her, and then looked at the screen. “Put them through.” Jarol saw that Bajoran for the first time. “What can I do for you, Major Harran?”

    We are trying to contact our colony, but we have no response from them,” the man replied.


    The Bajoran glanced at his companion and then back at the screen. “I know it’s a lot to ask, but we wondered if you wouldn’t allow us to check what is the problem. We...err...we’d need one of your ships to assist us.

    “Why?” Dukat’s voice was soft, but Jarol was sure his innocence was faked.

    Because our vessel’s warp capability is limited and your warships are fast.”

    “I’m afraid our resources are too limited for such unnecessary trips. We can try to hail them, though, in case our communication technology is more advances than yours.”

    The major didn’t seem happy with the solution, but he nodded. “We appreciate that.”

    “We’ll let you know as soon as we know something.”

    The connection was closed and Jarol expected Dukat to order Yassel to hail the colony, but no such instruction followed. Had he just promised something with no intention of keeping his word?

    The glinn made herself busy with her task, impatiently waiting for her shift to end, so that she could return to her own ship. She hated this place more with every minute.

    “We are being hailed by the Radalar,” the communication officer reported some time later.

    “On screen,” Dukat ordered and Gul Toral’s face filled the viewer.

    I would like to accompany the Bajorans to check on their colony,” the young gul said.

    “Their colony?” Dukat repeated slowly. “What about their colony?”

    They lost contact with it, did they not?” Toral seemed surprised by Dukat’s reaction and so was Jarol.

    “They did, indeed. Why do you want to go there?” the Ravinok’s commander asked Toral.

    The young gul seemed to be taken aback by the question and didn’t have a ready answer. “To thank them for their assistance in bringing us here safely,” he said eventually.

    “We don’t have time for this.”

    I insist.”

    For a moment both guls stared at each other, but finally Dukat nodded. “All right. Take them aboard and take them there, but don’t let them gather any intelligence on our technology. Keep your Obsidian Order agent on their backs...let’s make some use of those...” He didn’t finish and only cast a hostile glance at Ravinok’s political officer.

    Toral disconnected, while Dukat turned to Jarol. “Did you relay the information to the other ships?” he asked with barely concealed anger.

    “I did,” she answered, not sure what she had done wrong.

    “You asked you to do that!”

    “You did, sir.”


    “You ordered me to relay all new information as it becomes available, so that all three ships have the same data at any time.”

    “All relevant information.”

    She bit her lower lip, trying not to snap. Had he just suggested that she remembered incorrectly? The whole bridge heard his words, so he couldn’t claim that she had misheard or misremembered.

    He smiled forgivingly. “That’s all right, Jarol, everybody makes mistakes. In the future, however, please consult with me or Glinn Damar, if you’re not sure.”

    But I was sure, she thought. “Yes, sir,” she replied. One doesn’t argue with her gul, but follows the given orders. Even when the orders contradict each other.

    She wanted to be back on her ship!

    Dukat turned back to the screen, while she looked around. Everyone pretended they hadn’t heard anything—she was certain they wouldn’t confirm his true orders either—maybe except for Damar, who sent her an encouraging smile.

    CMS Radalar

    “We’re in sensors range,” Nevir, the Radalar’s chief engineer, reported.

    “Scan the planet,” Toral ordered and then looked at Major Harran. “Where is the settlement exactly?”

    The Bajoran dictated the co-ordinates and Nevir entered the data into his console. A moment later his eye ridges became rounder—an expression of startle and worry.

    “What is it?” Toral asked.

    “You’re not going to like it,” Nevir said, looking at his gul and then at both Bajorans. “The settlement...the settlement is gone.”

    Lieutenant Sirad approached the Cardassian engineer. “Are you sure you entered the data correctly? There must be some sign of them.”

    Nevir shook his head. “I don’t make mistakes of that kind. And I didn’t say there was no sign of the settlement, but that it was gone.”

    “What does that mean?” The other Bajoran also approached the engineering station. Right now it didn’t really matter that none of them knew how to read Cardassian displays.

    “The settlement was destroyed,” Nevir said. “I detect weapons signatures, no life signs and clear evidence of destruction.”

    Major Harran’s face became paler and Toral wondered if it was a typical reaction of his species with the same meaning as Cardassian ridges going wide.

    The gul stood up. “Lorrun, scan the system.” The last thing he wanted was to be attacked by whoever had obliterated the Bajoran colony.

    “I detect a craft of unknown configuration,” Lorrun at the main tactical station reported a moment later. “I am unable to assess if they have detected us. They are barely within our sensor’s range.”

    An unknown configuration. Toral would be surprised if anything that far from home were of a known design. And being on the edge of the sensor range could mean that the craft was hiding—had they detected the approaching Cardassians and moved farther away? He considered his options. He wanted to take better scans and provide more information for the Bajorans, but not at the cost of his ship and his crew lives. “Is that ship a match for us?” he asked.

    “I’d say it’s smaller, but I detect significant weaponry. We don’t know the strength of their fire power, but if it was them who destroyed the settlement, we could assume that it’s a well-equipped warship, in spite of its size. It could pose a threat.”

    “Do you think it’s them who destroyed the settlement?” Major Harran asked Toral.

    “It’s possible. It’s also possible we’re in their territory.” The gul wasn’t happy about the whole situation. “Is the other ship doing anything? Does it seem like they detected us?”

    Lorrun observed his display for a few seconds and then shook his head slightly. “No, sir. They’re holding their position.”

    The gul hesitated for a moment longer and then turned to face both Bajorans. “I’m sorry. I’d like to help you learn what happened to your colony, but the cost might be too high. Maybe I could convin—”

    “Sir, we are being hailed,” Yamuc at the communication console said suddenly and then lowered his head in apology for interrupting his gul. “It might be important,” he added to explain his behaviour.

    Everyone on the bridge looked at the screen, as if expecting to see on it the alien ship in far distance, while the ship was visible only on sensors but not close enough for the naked eye, even if the eye was using a display.

    “On screen,” Toral ordered, standing in front of his chair.

    A bridge appeared on the viewer. The central place on the screen was taken by a smiling, benign looking being with smooth face and very long, wrinkled ears. He bowed slightly and smiled wide. “It’s a pleasure to meet you,” he said in a quiet, soothing voice.

    Toral barely managed to keep himself from asking ‘Why?’ His attention wasn’t purely on the benign alien, though. The alien was surrounded by menacingly looking, tall and covered by thick low reptile-like skin beings, who undoubtedly looked like warriors. Grim faces, bony protrusions on their jaws and foreheads creating an intimidating look and weapons on their belts told everything about their main tasks. The only thing that Toral couldn’t interpret as a typically soldier objects were strange tubes coming out—or in—of their necks.

    “I am Gul Toral of the Cardassian Union,” he said to the non-warrior being.

    Weyoun.” The word was followed by another small bow.

    Was it his name? His empire? His race? An insult?

    The being didn’t say anything else, so Toral started to wonder why they had been hailed in the first place. Just to take a look at them? However, he decided not to lose the opportunity to pose the most dire question. “Do you know what happened to the colony on this planet?” he asked.

    We had to destroy it.” The answer was given in a casual tone that sent shivers down Toral’s spine.

    The Bajoran major gasped. Toral thought of one of border Cardassian colonies that had been obliterated by the Romulans in the last month of the war as their final “argument” to force the Cardassians to sign the peace treaty and he felt sympathy for the Bajorans—they had to feel exactly the same how he had felt the day he learnt about the colony’s fate.

    “Why?” he asked.

    The Founders gave us such an order.” The man’s voice was almost surprised.

    Toral’s eye ridge raised slightly. Who were those founders and what had they founded?

    “Founders of what?” he asked.

    The Founders of the Dominion. Do you claim you never heard of them?

    “We’re not...from this neighbourhood,” Toral explained.

    Was it not your colony?

    “Err, no...and yes...” he added, thinking that the two Bajorans were now a part of the Cardassian team and belonged to “we” as much as anyone else on Toral’s warship. The gul shook his head apologetically. “I’m sorry, I’m not a diplomat.”

    The man on the other bridge smiled. “Neither am I,” he admitted. “But it doesn’t mean we can’t talk, does it?

    That seemed to be too much for the poor major. “Talk?! You murdered many people and now you want to talk?”

    Toral gave his communication officer the sign to cut the audio. “Calm down, Major, this will take us nowhere,” he whispered. The Bajoran gave him a furious look. “I know how you feel, but we are in an unknown territory and face an unknown enemy. All we know about them is that they are cruel and have no conscience. Do you want to make them angry, so that they call their comrades and blow us to pieces, or do you want them to pay for their crime?”

    “What do you think?” Harran barked.

    The gul smiled. “So let’s try to be diplomatic.”

    “Sir.” Lorrun looked up. “If he’s no diplomat, why does he want to talk?”

    “I wouldn’t believe a word he says,” Toral answered. “Keep an eye on their weapons. I want to know if they are changing their status the moment it starts happening. Audio!” He looked at the screen. “I am not authorised to have any official talks, so I would have to contact my superior and relay your wish to him.”

    Please, do so.” And he signed off.

    “What were those guys behind him?” Nevir asked no one in particular.

    “Soldiers, definitely soldiers,” Glinn Korel, the gul’s aide, answered.

    Toral looked at his political officer. “What do you think?”

    “I think they mean trouble and a lot of it,” the Obsidian Order agent replied. “Contact Dukat and secure the connection. They certainly will try to spy on us.”

    “Why did they hail us in the first place?” Tassar wondered.

    “To see us? I guess they were as curious as we were,” the agent said.

    “I wasn’t,” Lorrun muttered.

    “Yamuc, get me Dukat. Secure the connection and secure it well.”

    “I can add a few scrambling codes,” the Obsidian Order agent offered. “Their agent should be able to unscramble them.”

    Toral nodded. “Please, do.”

    CMS Ravinok

    Jarol logged out of her console and headed for Dukat to report leaving the bridge. He accepted her announcement with a nod, so she turned and headed for the lift. It arrived quickly. She entered and turned toward the closing door to see Dukat also entering the car.

    “I assume you are going to beam back to your warship now,” he said.

    “Yes, sir,” she confirmed.

    “You might be my officer, but you are also my guest,” he said, while she thought she was not his officer. “It would be rude not to treat a guest appropriately.”

    “I am on duty here.”

    “Not any more. You duty has just ended. Now it’s your leisure time and I’d like to steal a moment of it?” Up until now she kept looking at the closed door of the lift, but now she glanced at him, while he continued, “I’d like to invite you for dinner. Something special to celebrate your first day on my ship.”

    She wasn’t sure if she could refuse and she couldn’t find a good reason to tell him why she couldn’t be able to join him. He didn’t give her a lot of time for finding such a reason. The lift stopped on his deck and he gestured for her to leave it first. The car would proceed empty to the deck, on which transporter chambers were located.

    She submissively followed him without a word.

    She had never seen a gul’s quarters before and she was surprised by the vast space. Did Zamarran have such a huge space too?

    “Please, sit down.” Dukat gestured to a chair at the dining table. She sat and looked at the table, which was already prepared for a meal—it had been set for two. She shot a glance at Dukat, certain now that he had it planned all along.

    The gul approached with a tray full of food and placed it in the middle, between plates and just next to a thin vase with one purple flower. “I’m afraid some of it is replicated, but I hope you’ll enjoy the real dishes.”

    “I am sure I will,” she assured him.

    He laughed. “Don’t worry, you won’t be executed if you don’t.”

    She gave him a bit suspicious look, but it seemed like a genuine joke, so she smiled. A little bit.

    He entertained her with a conversation and she began to relax. She wasn’t here to be executed, or even chastised for her “mistake” on the bridge; she was here to enjoy her time over quite good food.

    It was almost the time for a dessert, when they were interrupted. “Sir, we are being contacted by Gul Toral,” Yassel’s voice said through the comm. “It’s very important and you are needed on the bridge.

    Dukat threw his napkin on his plate and looked at Jarol. “Seems like we are not off duty, yet. Let’s go.” He rose and she followed him, wondering what Toral had found on the Bajoran colony that was so important.

  19. Nerys Ghemor

    Nerys Ghemor Vice Admiral Admiral

    Aug 4, 2008
    Cardăsa Terăm--Nerys Ghemor
    Ewww, ewww, dinner with Gul Dukat...yuck. It's more blatantly obvious than ever why he really wants her on the ship. And I suspect his deliberate undermining of her standing on the bridge was intended not only as self-aggrandizement, but also to try to make her uncertain and vulnerable to his advances. What a manipulative bastard.

    On the other hand...if you provide more evidence, I could find myself shipping these versions of Jarol and Damar. ;)

    I see the Obsidian Order agents are trying to make themselves "helpful" again--the one on the Radalar allowing himself to be used, and the one on the Ravinok encrypting those messages. I wonder if they do stuff like that from time to time in your universe to try to make it harder for Central Command to find an excuse to obliterate them?

    And what I feared when the Cardassian-Bajoran team went into the wormhole has come to pass: the Dominion is here. I wonder how they will fare in a universe where the Romulans are so strong, and the Cardassians may not provide them an easy beachhead in the Alpha Quadrant?
  20. Gul Re'jal

    Gul Re'jal Commodore Commodore

    Jun 28, 2010
    Gul Re'jal is suspecting she's on the wrong space
    You didn't think he oh-so desperately needed a liaison officer, did you?
    Well, they are useful sometimes ;)
    Jem'Hadar obliterated New Bajor in canon universe. Unfortunately, I didn't see how they wouldn't do it in this universe :(