Star Trek: Sigils and Unions is the name for my overall fanfic universe. While I've enjoyed many aspects of the Pocket Book relaunches, I've found myself wanting to do my own continuity and take things in an entirely different direction. I particularly wanted to continue in DS9's direction of exploring the Federation from a more skeptical vein, and preferably from an outside perspective. The Thirteenth Order is something of a "prequel" to the entire idea (most of which is still taking shape in my head). It takes place during Season 7 of Deep Space Nine (2375) and while I originally intended it as a one-off, it has introduced some characters I think I'm eventually going to use later. NB: Before I even post the relevant sections, please understand I know there is a perfectly legitimate argument to be made that one of my characters has NO business doing what he will later do, for various regulatory and 24th century ethical reasons. While I personally suspect I would've done it were I in his shoes, I'm sure at least some of you wouldn't have. (As to the person who got him INTO it, he doesn't have the same restrictions. Yes, he thinks outside the box his culture would seem to place him in, but that one is easier to explain.) -------- Continuity roughly includes the following and the decisions are made for no other reason than my own personal preference: Full canon: TOS (to include all movies) TAS TNG (to include all movies) DS9 Partial canon (meaning I may ignore, reshape, or include items as I wish): The following DS9 relaunch novels: Terok Nor series A Stitch in Time Avatar 1 and 2 Gateways (especially needed due to a reaction from Gul Macet that begs further explanation) One DS9 pre-relaunch novel gained partial canon status due to a character that really stuck with me for whatever reason. You'll get a chance to spot him later. Jury's still out on whether the following get full, partial, or no canon status: VOY (due to the inclusion of Janeway in Nemesis, the decision here is between full and partial canon) ENT The Cardăsda language that appears in this story is mine--no relation whatsoever to "Kardasi" or any other effort. However, for language geeks, please note I have chosen to be inconsistent between transliterations that adhere more to English spelling rules, and those that follow a strict "Ilojan transliteration" (my "official" rendering of Cardassian phonology). Also, a rare few terms and names from the series must be explained as either bad transliteration (someone wrote what they thought they heard and was wrong), a foreign loanword, or coming from a non-official regional dialect. (If at any point anyone wants more information on the inner workings of Cardăsda, please visit the link in my signature. I post under the name of "Rose Immortal" there. For use in your own stories, please ask and please credit.) Aaaanyway...here goes nothing! Just a little teaser...not a lot really happens here; this is more an introduction to my take on Gul Macet to kind of explain how I see him and how he got to the point where he's ready to do the "un-Cardassian-like" things he does later. ============================= 2375—The Dominion War Cardassian Union Warship Trager Gul Akellen Macet rubbed the outsides of his eye ridges in a futile effort to ward off the omnipresent headache that had throbbed behind his temples ever since the Dominion had usurped the leadership of the Cardassian Union. And all thanks to my thrice-burned cousin. Not for the first time he wondered if it were perhaps a cruel joke on the part of the universe that he had to look and sound so much like Dukat, so much so that the very mention of him was constantly tied to that man. In Macet’s opinion, any idiot could see that his ridging pattern took after his father, who hailed from the other side of Cardassia entirely from the Dukats. But not that, not even the facial hair—a liberty from military regulations and custom Macet had taken as soon as he received his own command—ever seemed to stop people from making the infuriating connection and voicing it as if they thought he might not know. “My dear Cardassian ally,” simpered Arawil, the tall Vorta female leaning rather disconcertingly into his face, “what seems to be the matter? Do you require painkillers?” I require your ejection out the airlock, Macet longed to snarl, but held his tongue with the help of long practice. “I seem to have stared into this viewing device for a few hours too many…it appears I am only resistant to its effects to a point.” “I see,” Arawil replied, the verb drawn out to ridiculous length. “Perhaps I could serve you by taking the bridge for the remainder of your shift?” And give you time to run around my bridge unchecked before Daro relieves me? I think not. “That will not be necessary, Arhaviyl,” he replied, intentionally pronouncing the name with his heaviest Cardăsda accent. Only the ‘w’ should have given him any trouble, but he enjoyed the Vorta’s subtle wince as the aspirated trill wounded her hypersensitive ears. “Mendral!” he called, taking advantage of the chance to turn his back on Arawil as he spun around towards the navigation console. “Take over the viewer until Daro arrives.” “I obey, Gul.” Macet’s heart warmed though he hid the smile he wished to show. His crew had made a habit of emphasizing exactly whose commands they heeded ever since that Vorta worm had come aboard. Macet had long been cautious how he allowed that intense loyalty to display before others, for to develop his own personal cadre of officers and crewmen could easily mark him as a threat to Central Command, something that he as a protégé of Tekeny Ghemor did not exactly need on his record. That connection, distant and professional as it had appeared to an outside view, had been enough to ensure that Macet would never receive another promotion, but the gul was far beyond caring about that—he had been even before Legate Ghemor’s exposure as a dissident. He had the Trager. He had the hearts of the men who served him, and unlike certain relatives who constantly deluded themselves into believing they were loved by their fellows, Macet could see it plainly in their eyes and so did everyone else who stepped through the airlock. Ordinarily Macet strove to divorce himself from the results of his unorthodox command technique lest it swell his pride. Under current conditions, however, Macet had no compunctions about letting the full extent of his devotion to the people of the Trager show when that Vorta and her Jem’Hadar gene-slaves weren’t looking. His men needed the evidence of his esteem…and the risk of antagonizing Central Command was now far preferable to forgetting that one was Cardassian. It was amazing, he thought now, how disparate the reactions were to his initially unassuming presence by the standards of Cardassian military tradition: people had a tendency to reveal their inner bent around him in spite of themselves. Those with a predilection for what was right eventually learned that for once, their true natures would bring them success, and Macet took great pains to respond to that and select his tenured crew accordingly. Their loyalty was like a bracing draft of kănar; men had always been reluctant to transfer away from his ship thanks to his measured disciplinary hand, which stood in such contrast to so many of his fellows. As for men of injustice, they often made the mistake of taking one look at him and thinking they could act with impunity, at which point Macet would suddenly turn and brought them to heel. This was nothing Macet took pleasure in; sometimes it truly stung. So it had been when an age ago, Dovetz Telle had seen fit to embarrass himself aboard the Enterprise with that foolhardy, unauthorized espionage stunt of his. Summoning Telle into his office after the crisis and telling him he was evicted from the Trager had been one of the hardest things Macet had ever had to do in his military career. Telle had been a man of great promise, but sooner or later there came a point in one’s efforts to mould a man into something better when it came down to a response from that individual that no gul, agent, or archon could ever hope to evoke from the outside. At that point, there was nothing Macet could do but cut them loose as cleanly as possible to face the consequences…which sadly in Telle’s case, probably had something to do with the Obsidian Order. The thought of that day reminded him of that Federation captain he had worked alongside when the Maxwell had turned rogue and begun to attack his people’s ships. As much of himself as he had seen in Picard, the terhăn commander had made that one arrogant assumption about him and by implication his people, that still rankled to this day. I do comprehend loyalty, Macet reflected. The difference is that I understand how to separate loyalty to a person from loyalty to the idea of what he once was, and I know when it is time to sever ties of pity when that which once was is lost. Anything else is mere fanaticism. So it had been with the Cardassian Union for a long time: the feeling had been building ever since the end of the Federation-Cardassian Wars, fostered by insights gleaned from the late Ghemor, and finally exploding to the fore when that misbegotten ghentregămst took it upon himself to surrender their world to a hostile power. Blood-kin or no, the son-of-a-houndess had gone far beyond what any man could possibly tolerate, and dragged the glory of their entire people down with it. I prepare to burn this bridge, ran the old aphorism. You have only one chance to choose upon which side you will stand. Arawil frowned now, an exaggerated pout. “I regret that you regard my offer of assistance in such a negative light, Akellen.” Macet caught his right hand trying to ball up into a fist almost of its own accord…how dare she call him by his given name without his consent, and before his entire bridge crew at that! Not that Daro, Mendral, or any of them would be swayed to her favor by such disrespect—it was more the fact that she thought so little of them as to expect it would, that stoked his ire. “I shall certainly endeavor to alter your perception of the Dominion. In the meantime…am I correct in assuming that I have your cooperation on our objectives?” “Yes, Arhaviyl,” Macet answered, silently concluding the sentence, you are correct that you are assuming. You don’t know me at all. And you have no idea just how well I have been taught to operate under the nose of belly-crawling political worms like yourself. He had had to, to avoid being detected in his efforts to restore the civilian Detapa Council to rule, especially after the exposure of Legate Ghemor. And this time the stakes were even higher. Someday, he knew, there was going to be yet another widespread rebellion—and this time the Cardassian Union would be fighting not just for its political traditions but for its very life.