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

    Aug 4, 2008
    Cardăsa Terăm--Nerys Ghemor
    I know this is a short section, but the other half of this chapter will be a longer one and I thought I'd at least whet your appetites. ;)


    The Laghur-class fast-attack ship swelled onscreen. Too much or too little thrust from either vessel or thrust in the wrong direction—and they were done. Any attempt to coordinate, any signal, and the game was up: the Jem’Hadar would detect that far more surely than they would the tiny, chemical rockets that constituted a Gălor-class vessel’s maneuvering thrusters. But even that…even that…it wasn’t natural…

    “Vent a cargo bay!” Spirodopoulos shouted as if moved by a sudden wind. “Or any section that you can—if—”

    Berat’s eyes went wide. He didn’t wait for the terhăn to finish his explanation. “Do it—Yejain!”

    The glinn tapped at his console. “Ventral bay venting now!”

    The Sherouk pitched up—relative to its orientation that moment, looking like a manta ray trying to stand on its tail. The Turrel hurtled past—mere kilometers past, from the looks of it…but it cleared.

    “Trajectories of all other ships stable,” Dalin Rota reported. “Two more charges have detonated in the nebula since we drifted past the flux boundary.” Excellent! Berat cheered. If they’re still wasting ammunition on stellar gases, then it’s rather unlikely their sensors can tell us from the remains of a planetary fragment.

    “Maintain silent running,” Berat said, “for fifteen minutes after the Jem’Hadar depart our sensor range.” He resisted a feral grin at that. The Dominion had thought they were giving their Cardassian lackeys a few harmless ‘toys’ to play with, by upgrading the sensors and transporters of the twenty Gă’ălour…but all they had proven in the end was that the Vorta were shortsighted in more ways than one. Any technology from the enemy constituted an inherent tactical advantage, however seemingly insignificant. And here on the Sherouk with minds like Onay Motreln and Yal Mirok on board? And the rest of this crew? Even dumber.

    Berat turned. “Commander…” What he wanted to say was, Thank you for your trust. But so soon after that tense discussion in the mess hall, he wasn’t so sure about drawing attention to the fact that the Federation commander had just shared information—however insignificant—about Starfleet readiness and procedures. “Thank you for your quick thinking.”

    “I’ll be a little happier once the Jem’Hadar are off of our doorstep,” Spirodopoulos replied, “but you’re welcome.” He spoke through the translator for the moment—probably best for now, while we still have to concern ourselves with potential battle, Berat thought, but there was something about that subtle dip of the head that accompanied Spirodopoulos’ statement. It was a dissonance allayed: though still tinged with that terhăn strangeness, it was almost the move one of his own species would have used. The Cardassian commander smiled, reciprocating Spirodopoulos’ nod.

    Dalin Rota reported, “They just went to warp, heading away from the nebula! At current speed and heading, they should be out of sensor range in another twenty minutes.” And us, potentially, from them, Berat translated; they did have the same sensors, after all—or so that Vorta had said.

    “Continue monitoring.” No one spoke aloud—only the faint sounds of the computer, and the shifting energy fields of the plasma conduits running near the bridge betrayed a sense of life and activity to Berat.

    Spirodopoulos observed at the tactical station, which had been Gul Macet’s suggestion. Macet had been duly impressed by the terhăn’s ability to grasp enough of the Zerayd’s firing controls at Lessek that with minimal instruction he could actually get a shot off without hesitation. Even with the gul doing the aiming, that was quite the accomplishment considering he was dealing with a foreign interface and, though Spirodopoulos tried valiantly to hide it, he was still functionally illiterate in the Cardăsda language.

    Just barely out of Rota’s line of sight, Berat caught a glimpse of Spirodopoulos mouthing some of the words on the readouts to himself in hopes of stitching them together into something he recognized. Berat busied himself with the readouts on the main screen—better for the lieutenant commander’s concentration…and his pride…that he think himself unobserved.

    After the first minute turned into nine, then ten, he finally started allowing himself to entertain the thought that maybe they’d actually succeeded. Berat aimed his attention towards his chief investigative officer. “Mirok, while we have a moment to breathe …coordinate with Dr. Hetalc to determine if Riyăk Iymender is in sufficient condition. If he is, route any Dominion communications we’ve intercepted from those ships to him, along with the work you’ve been doing on their viewing device. Once he’s up and around, I’ll be formally assigning him to work with you on signal decryption and some other projects.” Reverse-engineering of Dominion technology, Berat added to himself. If Spirodopoulos was this distrusting, still…how would he handle the knowledge that even these Cardassians intended to find out what made it work? And whenever they returned him, just what would the Federation think of that? “But for now…I think it may be therapeutic to give him a bit of an ‘appetizer.’”

    The science expert switched on a positively conspiratorial smile. She certainly knows the type! “Understood, Gul.”

    Glinn Yejain caught Berat’s eye then. “Might I have a word with you, Gul?”


    “I believe he should join us,” Yejain added, sweeping a hand towards Spirodopoulos.

    Berat assented. “Then we will confer in my office. Dalin Rota—the watch is yours for now. Alert me at once if the Jem’Hadar make even the slightestchange of course, regardless of type.” That said, it was understood that Rota would still defer to Glinn Motreln on any matters pertaining to the ship’s internal operations—she did outrank the tactical officer, after all.

    With his eyes, Berat indicated the office and waited until he stood shoulder-to-shoulder with the terhăn to ascend the steps.
  2. Deranged Nasat

    Deranged Nasat Vice Admiral Admiral

    Hmmm, safe for now, then (or so it appears). I wonder what they'll find in any stash of Dominion communications...

    Good old Berat. :) Again, I like how he melds obvious authority with a more personally-inviting style of leadership than we usually see. The atmosphere on his command deck is always interesting, for how it resembles and differs from the other Cardassians we've met (and of course since your last piece I've had Berat forefront in my mind again). And having a Human in the mix complicates it - I trust Berat's gesture will be taken as I'm assuming its intended, to note Spirodopoulous as part of the team and to acknowledge his just having saved the ship, rather than pointing to a strictly business partnership? The crew seem to be on his wavelength, anyway.

    I'm very much looking forward to the next half. :)
  3. Gul Re'jal

    Gul Re'jal Commodore Commodore

    Jun 28, 2010
    Gul Re'jal is suspecting she's on the wrong space
    Berat still has very fresh memory of the conversation about trust and it seems to bother him, since he is so conscious of it and chooses his words carefully.
  4. Nerys Ghemor

    Nerys Ghemor Vice Admiral Admiral

    Aug 4, 2008
    Cardăsa Terăm--Nerys Ghemor
    Well, we'll have to see what if anything they are able to intercept. ;)

    I hope it's still convincingly Cardassian, even though he's "relaxed" in certain ways.

    But I tend to see personal connections as very important to Berat, yes. Knowing his people as individuals, what makes them tick, and respecting that.

    Well, we'll have to see how that goes!


    Yes, I would say that really bothered him. I know that he himself is often deeply torn between trust and distrust--but in this case, they have shed blood and mourned their losses together. That's a big line to cross, yet still show distrust.
  5. Rush Limborg

    Rush Limborg Vice Admiral Admiral

    Jul 13, 2008
    The EIB Network
    Still good, still engaging--I am looking forward to what you'll cook up next, Nerys! :)

    It's funny...I think you yourself once noted that you could easily see Sam Bowers (Ezri's first officer on the Aventine) serving on a Cardassian vessel in an exchange program. (Germ of a story for me, BTW. Stay tuned....)

    Sam is very ordered, and he constantly emphasizes order and discipline, while Ezri promotes a more (to borrow Nasat's term) "personally-inviting" style. Thus, I can easily see kindred spirits between, say Bowers and Macet on the one hand, and Dax and Berat on the other.

    Just my $0.02. ;)
  6. Nerys Ghemor

    Nerys Ghemor Vice Admiral Admiral

    Aug 4, 2008
    Cardăsa Terăm--Nerys Ghemor
    Sam might get along well with Glinn Yejain, then. (Berat's first officer.) I think that Berat probably isn't quite like Ezri in his command style--the "Cardassianism" is still there, but expressed differently.

    But I could see Macet getting along very well with someone like Bowers, too.

    Thanks for reading!
  7. Nerys Ghemor

    Nerys Ghemor Vice Admiral Admiral

    Aug 4, 2008
    Cardăsa Terăm--Nerys Ghemor promised, here's a much longer section, to conclude Chapter 19.


    Glinn Yejain followed his commanding officer, simultaneously keeping a close eye on Spirodopoulos. The Starfleet officer gave no sign of concern at having the wiry executive officer at his back…nothing to indicate that he’d realized the speed and depth of martial arts skill Yejain could wield at a moment’s notice if given any reason to believe Spirodopoulos posed a threat to Berat.

    That was one of the things that had made him deeply skeptical of dealing with the Vedrayçda: they didn’t think like that in their society, they had neither instinct nor the training to look beyond surface pleasantries. They had even handed their own worlds over to the Union as a ‘solution’ to a border war that—at least to that point—had never even threatened their core worlds. Did they care that they had only shown Central Command weakness? How could they ever understand what it meant to navigate a world that could never be distilled neatly into their simplistic paradigms, where tough decisions had to be made and blood sometimes had to be spilled?

    And the terhăn-çăs—their reputation was that of one of the most volatile species of all. Not in the sense of a race like the klin’ça-çăs, whose ancient and belligerent culture made them predictable, simple to manipulate, and quite restricted, in most cases, in the innovativeness of their tactics…emotionally, the people of Terhăn Terăm were much more like Cardassians than that. But they were inherently chaotic, unpredictable in other ways…one never knew when they would fight, when they would surrender, when they would hold to their rules, and when they would throw them to the wind. Perhaps it was a product of their short lifespans, which even the best of their medical science could do only so much for.

    That chaotic nature, coupled with their naiveté, had led Yejain to caution Berat against joining a rebellion intended to include them. But Spirodopoulos…he wasn’t quite what Yejain had expected. It wasn’t just the Cardassian armor he now wore, or even his efforts to speak their language…it was something about the words he spoke, the way he carried himself, that didn’t seem quite as alien as everything he knew had led him to believe.

    Yejain’s eyes focused now on Berat. Even now, folded behind his back, the tremors in his hands were unmistakable—though to Yejain, it read as little more than a heightened state of readiness. Unlike the rest of the Sherouk’s senior officers, he had never known Gul Berat before the assassination attempt, nor even heard his name until the Maciy attack and Legate Ghemor’s intervention to save Berat’s life and his command. Someone, disgusted by this intervention to save a defeated ‘cripple,’ had finally talked—finally said something, however insignificant, that the Obsidian Order could use to move on the legate, whose position otherwise would have protected him. Yejain had tried to warn Ghemor of the personal risks he would incur by sparing Berat from the execution he should have faced for his defiance…however good of an officer he might have been…but the legate had refused to listen.

    And when he had first heard that he, Bresul Yejain, was to become the first officer of the Sherouk and aide to its peculiar gul, he had felt…betrayed, almost. True, a shipboard position was more prestigious in some ways, more conducive for career advancement—but Yejain didn’t think like that most of the time. Why, at a time when Legate Ghemor needed the protection he could offer as a member of Central Command’s clandestine intelligence corps more than ever, would he send him away?

    Central Command—however wrongheaded they could be sometimes…they could at least be understood. First came an action, then a rule, then a prescribed consequence, all of it clear to the naked eye. For the Obsidian Order…causality had a tendency to be rather warped. Seditious tendencies, treacherous intentions, religious feelings, political necessities, all of these were enough for the Obsidian Order to move, before the object of their attentions could even consider committing a crime.

    In more capable hands, Central Command could do Cardassia proud. The Obsidian Order—they were corrupt to the core. To serve was prime—yet service without sense in it was meaningless…a farce. Ghemor understood that too, in his own way, and ever so carefully, he had brought the operative to the same understanding: that something crucial had to change.

    The Obsidian Order may have feared no one, but Yejain held no delusions that they had not discovered exactly who and what he was, and that they did not at least consider the additional obstacle one such as him might put in the way of any of their plans to take down Legate Ghemor.

    Then again…Ghemor had likely understood all of the risks—and done it all anyway.

    And set Yejain at a remove from him before the inevitable fall from grace. For something had changed during his three-year tenure at Central Command: the glinn had married. He had a wife and a family now. It was dangerous enough for them all for him to belong to the Obsidian Order’s direct rival…far more so to be affiliated with them and a dissident legate at the moment of said legate’s arrest.

    Once Yejain had assumed his post aboard the Sherouk, he’d come to understand Ghemor’s sacrifice. And once he’d gotten to know the man Ghemor had chosen him to serve under, he understood that as well, far more than just the hints he’d had before: what Berat’s physical disabilities hid in the eyes of most was a just commander of a sort that the Cardassian Guard could use far more of. Berat, like Ghemor before him, could be trusted. And that, for a man who responded as strongly to the hierarchical instinct as Yejain did, meant everything. And especially after Ghemor’s exile, which came exactly as Yejain had predicted, and his untimely death…Yejain needed that trustworthiness.

    Glinn Yejain remained standing until Berat came around his desk and sat, hands folded away out of sight—something Berat would not have felt necessary with just the two of them alone. Then Yejain sat. Spirodopoulos followed the glinn’s lead and took the other chair. Yejain cautioned himself not to read this late move as deference…simply a species difference. That, Yejain supposed, and the fact that he’s having to adjust to his position as well as to this culture. Though age was difficult to tell on certain mammalians given the effect sunlight had on their skins, Spirodopoulos looked as though he were closer to Yejain’s age than Berat’s. Yet on a terhăn…they looked so much like Bajorans yet aged more quickly. Most likely the man was younger than he appeared.

    As soon as the door shut behind them, Berat allowed himself to lean back a bit. “There was something you wanted to discuss?”

    “Yes, Gul. I realize our connection to the Guard is tenuous right now…but I submit that Rebek will still want an incident report from us about that near miss we just had with the Turrel.” And of course from Dalin Ostevor as well—the ship’s acting commander, and Gul Rebek’s subordinate. Yejain felt a bit sorry for Ostevor; much like Spirodopoulos, he too was learning his position. A subtle, sympathetic grin crossed Berat’s face…he must have thought the same thing.

    “And Commander,” he added with a nod at Spirodopoulos, “I…encourage your assessment as well.” It sounded like Berat had almost required it—but reconsidered his wording. Though Spirodopoulos might hold a position something like a dalin at home, neither he nor the gul dared leave no doubt of the extensive scope and nature of this man’s authority in the Thirteenth Order. “Especially since your idea was so integral to the solution.”

    Spirodopoulos gave an ironic laugh. “No good deed goes unpunished, I suppose.”

    “What?” Berat sat up stiffly. “That was a compliment, not a rebuke—”

    The terhăn’s bioelectric field surged and Yejain’s head whipped around; the mammalian’s heart beat so quickly that at first Yejain had mistaken it for outright panic. And I did not improve matters with that gesture, Yejain observed. I shall have to “recalibrate” my krilătbre-yezul to account for our differences.

    “Oh, no, no—I’m sorry, Gul, Glinn…I never intended for it to come across that way.” Spirodopoulos held up his hands in a placating gesture. “It’s a human saying…at least it was human—now you hear it all over Starfleet. Sometimes people mean it snidely, but sometimes it’s just a joke. Especially when it comes to paperwork.”

    Berat digested the information. “I think I see now.” He leaned back in his chair, glancing slyly at Glinn Yejain.

    At that, the Starfleet officer allowed himself a bit of a smile. “In all seriousness, though…I have to admit I’m a little surprised we’re taking the time out of a rebellion for bureaucratic stuff. It’s not like we have admirals and thă’ăkliv to answer to.” Yejain blinked: there was a reason Federation Standard had named the rank ‘legate’ rather than actually trying to pronounce it. But that hadn’t stopped Spirodopoulos from trying.

    What he’d said, though, had been more surprising. Just how lax was Starfleet? Then again, if he was just a dalin at home— “Commander,” Yejain asked, “if I may, what is the largest number of people you’ve had under your direct command?” Spirodopoulos hesitated. Of course…he thinks I would infer the force strength of his last posting from his answer. “It’s not necessary to say where or when.”

    “This is it,” he admitted.

    “I see. If the three of us—” Yejain touched the diamond on his cuirass and circled his index finger between them. “—were operating as our own resistance cell, I would agree.” Or a cadre of operatives against the Obsidian Order, he added silently. “Even in your previous commands it may have been possible to gain a good idea of what was going on simply through your...loutenentz? Levtenentz? How do you get this sound…” Yejain struggled, making a sound that resembled ‘hv’ in place of the Vedrayçdaf.’ “…from a spelling that has no such letter?”
  8. Nerys Ghemor

    Nerys Ghemor Vice Admiral Admiral

    Aug 4, 2008
    Cardăsa Terăm--Nerys Ghemor
    Spirodopoulos’ eyes went wide. Then he let out a bellowing laugh, doubling over to where his cuirass squeaked audibly with every paroxysm, as it folded.

    Now it was Yejain’s turn to raise an eye ridge at the terhăn commander. “Have I said something vulgar?”

    “Hardly, Glinn!” Spirodopoulos forced out between laughs. “It’s just that most Federation-Standard speakers have no idea...but it's actually the influence of my native language.”

    “Cardăsda is the native language of every Cardassian,” Yejain said. “It must be confusing with so many different languages.”

    “Not really,” he said. “We do all have a common language that we speak when we deal with people not from our homelands. But we have more than one accepted dialect. Your dictionary was giving you pronunciations from the two most common ones. Because of where my grandparents are from, I learned a different dialect than most people did in Griys.” Yejain took this to mean the region on Earth where Spirodopoulos was born. “And I ended up saying something other than leftenant, even though most everyone else from my part of the world says it that way. Even though it would otherwise be really tempting for me as a Griyk-speaker.”

    Yejain made a thoughtful noise. “Bayhokrol edek,” he mused. I might understand. Truth be told, he wasn’t sure exactly how the terhăn-çăs coped if even their standard language had such great variation. But there would be time to find out more about that later. “But back to the point—we are not a small cell of terrorists.” The glinn’s lip curled ever so slightly at the word. “We are still a force of over 1500 soldiers, yourselves included. Sound logistics for a group that size…even within your contingent…requires that formal order and discipline must be maintained. After all, we can’t administer it to all face-to-face. We have certainly seen you do that,” Yejain added when he noticed Spirodopoulos’ face growing harder and harder to read, “but this is part of it too.”

    “What happened with the Turrel is something that should be studied,” Gul Berat added. “We escaped damage—a greater failure—but that’s no reason not to fully investigate the lesser failures that led up to it. And of course, the good choices that were made.” Now he’s getting into it! Yejain grinned inwardly—though he never showed a bit of it on his face. Berat was as precise as any Cardassian…when he wanted to be…but the mental energy to attend to some of the more administrative tasks of command came to him in bursts, and occasionally he needed a little respectful prodding. Now that Berat was framing it in terms of an engineering failure investigation, Yejain knew he had him hooked. “Will you help us, Commander?”

    Ve’,” Spirodopoulos answered in Cardăsda, “Lourol ça’adav edek. Ge’…yokov nithur hec ci’irdas edikouv edek.”
    Yejain lifted an eye ridge. He had understood, I will help you. The man’s accent wasn’t bad—and now that he knew Spirodopoulos had grown up with two languages, he supposed that lent a bit of extra flexibility to his tongue. But what did the terhăn mean by ‘need with time my people’? Then it dawned on him. “Not bad! But I believe you mean ‘nithur ci’irdas-hec çadou.’”

    Comprehending now, Gul Berat interjected: “You will still have time with your people. You don’t think we would do that to you, do you?” Berat’s lips smiled and his eyes tried to as well, but his voice could not. Yejain’s first instinct was to suspect the pain was particularly bad in that moment. But this didn’t look like that kind of pain, the internal electrocution that at its worst would likely paralyze a lesser man. Something’s eating at him, Yejain thought.

    Spirodopoulos folded his hands, straightened decisively, and met eyes with Gul Berat. “No, I do not.”

    “Then the pertinent parts of our database will be opened to you,” Berat said. “We will reconvene on conference at the end of your next shift. And Commander…you’ll find that other materials have been made available to you as well. That includes continuing language lessons you can access.

    “There’s just one thing about those lessons I should caution you about.” Berat broke eye contact—a clear Cardassian sign of shame, though Yejain would have to make sure to warn Berat of what his counterpart aboard the Trager had told him about the way some terhăn-çăs interpreted that signal. “They were initially uploaded to the Sherouk database to give the colonists on Volan III. They were intended not just to teach the language, but what their place was supposed to be in the Cardassian Union.”

    “You mean indoctrination,” Spirodopoulos muttered.

    Berat acknowledged with a thoughtful cant of the head. “I suppose that’s a fitting word. I would suggest using the basic material that’s available to get familiar with our writing system…but you might prefer more practical texts to test your skills, and actual dialogues with members of our crew.”

    More practical, yes, but more importantly, less offensive
    , Yejain silently added. The former Federation citizens had been in dire need of an education on how to function as productive parts of the Cardassian Union, judging from their atrocious behavior—then again as Gul Berat had reminded his co-conspirators, those colonists had been sold by their own people, violently uprooted from the hierarchy into which they had been born. While it didn’t justify the terrorism, it certainly explained the hostility.

    “I guess that would be wise,” the terhăn answered. “I’ll be sure to warn anyone else who takes those courses. Have you already opened that part of the database for all of my people?”

    “We will as soon as we’re clear to signal the other ships,” Berat said.

    “Then I’ll communicate that to my lieutenants at that point as well. I will be transporting to the Turrel at that time as well.”

    Yejain nodded—best for Spirodopoulos to show his sigil after what had transpired. “I will show you the way.” Despite having spent a few days aboard the Gălor-class ships, many of the Star’hvliyt-çăs had yet to learn their way around their ships. Glinn Yejain couldn’t imagine functioning with such a limited memory capacity…yet one thing that had to be said for the terhăn-çăs, and by extension the Federation, was that they advanced rapidly in many fields nonetheless.

    I’m not sure whether it’s actually a matter of their mental capacity or their training, Daro had said when Yejain asked him about it back on Lessek. Either way, the fact stands that their culture accommodates their abilities. One thing you’ll notice about dealing with them is that they have a tremendous capacity for finding information, and synthesizing it into the form they want. They don’t always remember things so much as they remember the process of getting to them. Maybe it’s a skill they have because with enough time, the very same person can look at the same object with almost ‘new eyes.’

    Yejain had accepted the explanation and did his best to see this man according to his people’s standards, not those of a Cardassian. It wasn’t easy, especially with his supplementary training, but no less would suffice here.

    As Spirodopoulos rose to leave, his wristcomm chirped, and after a second’s hesitation, he tapped it on. “Commander.” It was Dalin Rota.“Communications have been restored, and I have a signal from the Trager addressed to your urgent attention.

    He glanced at the Cardassians in the room—then nodded. “Put it through.”

    The gravelly yet oddly youthful voice on the other end belonged to the Trager’s chief medical officer, Istep. There was no cheer in that voice now, though. The computer’s audio pickups were boosting the volume on a voice hardly louder than a whisper. “One of your people was in an accident trying to repair a conduit. She survived the shock, she’s conscious and should make a full recovery, but she seems to have taken my attempt to examine her as some kind of…” Istep hissed the next words. “Some kind of thrice-burned attempt at assault! She needs treatment, but I cannot reason with this woman! Her remarks border on a death threat, Commander…please, I need you to come down here and get her to calm down so I can help her.”

    So that’s how low we have fallen
    , Yejain thought bitterly. He knew Istep by reputation—and there was no way, no way Istep would ever do anything even remotely that degrading. But that was what the aliens assumed. Yejain studied Spirodopoulos—Berat too.

    His face was stone, but his green eyes smoldered. “I’m on my way. Gul—you’ll have to excuse me.”

    “Of course,” said Berat with a curt nod. “Go—I will notify the transporter room.” But before he could leave, he caught the lieutenant commander’s eyes. “It’s a misunderstanding,” he declared. “I am sure of it.” Then Yejain knew. He still mistrusts! All of this—and he still cannot recognize who we are!

    Those test results on the Trager’s battle wounds could not come soon enough. And even if they did, would they stop Spirodopoulos from swinging back and forth from faith to disbelief? If he didn’t commit to a path soon, then the outburst from Istep’s patient would only be the beginning. First Starfleet—and then discontent among his own people as well. Glinn Yejain knew then that his next stop would be to his own ship’s sickbay, to speak with the convalescing Iymender, and then a call to Glinn Va’Kust: for now, all he could do was research the dossiers of the men and women they had brought with them from Lessek. They might not have the full power of Central Command’s database with them—and even then the database might not be safe to search in certain ways if any Dominion or old Obsidian Order failsafes still hadn’t been deprogrammed—but Yejain had made do with such limitations for his entire career. He would know the signs when he saw them.

    The Obsidian Order is dead—but if their descendants have followed us into space, Yejain fretted, and they see even the slightest signs of weakness or failure, they will strike. They may be going along with it now because we oppose the ones who crippled their power base, but that won’t last if Spirodopoulos breaks. He has no idea what sort of flood he is holding back.
  9. Thor Damar

    Thor Damar Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Jan 27, 2009
    Thor Damar, God of thunder and monologue..
    Its alive!

    Lovely comparison between humanity and our Cardassian brothers from another mother, especially that little detail about the eyes. To look downwards is a sign of shame for Cardassians who actually seem quite direct in their body language (ironic when one considers their reputation), whereas for Humans it is a sign of dishonesty. Both negative preconceptions but for different reasons.

    A brilliant touch in an excellent story:bolian:.

    I also like the rather sinister hint at the end that the foul serpent that has corrupted Cardassia may yet still live...

    (Am I right in thinking that in the 24th century the British diction has taken over European English?;))
  10. Gul Re'jal

    Gul Re'jal Commodore Commodore

    Jun 28, 2010
    Gul Re'jal is suspecting she's on the wrong space
    An interesting look into Yejain's thoughts. Some images from the past and the time of his work for Legate Ghemor. Some thoughts about the Federation. But what I found interesting is that Yejain isn't fully on any side of the fence: he criticises and at the same time he is able to appreciate the same phenomenon, just different features of it. He can see positive and negative things in Cardassia, in the Federation, in the former Federation colonies. He seems to be a man who thinks a lot about many things and doesn't feel like he has to make any ultimate decisions and form opinions of those things. He allows himself to doubt, to keep thinking and simply not having one, stable opinion if something is black or white. He doesn't even force himself to settle for grey. He prefers to analyse details than to judge them.
  11. Nerys Ghemor

    Nerys Ghemor Vice Admiral Admiral

    Aug 4, 2008
    Cardăsa Terăm--Nerys Ghemor
    Well...a Cardassian who averts his eyes out of shame or submission won't necessarily be judged poorly, the way one would be judged for showing signs of dishonesty.

    In a lot of ways, I would describe it as a submissive gesture. I tend to write my Cardassians as having almost "canine" social instincts, and if you've ever seen what happens when a dog misbehaves or when the alpha wolf chastises a member of its pack, the offending animal looks away as a sign of submission.

    My Cardassians have the same instinct; looking away is an instinctive way to reduce the appearance of aggression, so when they're ashamed of something, or they've been caught misbehaving, the proper response is to avoid eye contact.

    Which can lead to a misunderstanding because that means that if a Cardassian is telling the truth but is ashamed of that truth, he or she often will not look you in the eye. He or she is instinctively doing that to try to avoid stoking your ire. To a Cardassian, something said with averted eyes does not come off as harshly as something said with full eye contact.

    That said--despite their deeply ingrained instincts, which I write as being more powerful than human hierarchical and social instincts, some Cardassians are consummate liars and manipulators who are able to control these signs at will. They are, after all, sentient beings, not insects or Borg.

    I can't imagine that every agent, or every person who thinks like one of them, was eliminated in the Battle of the Omarion Nebula.

    I'd thought that while the influence of American media in Europe was widespread, that the British accent was what most Europeans studied now in school and what was considered most "proper" there, unless they happened to get a teacher from the US or Canada.

    While I had not thought of the character in quite those terms, I think you're right. :) Yejain is an analyst, above all, very pragmatic and a man of facts. If you introduce new data to him, his perceptions will shift. That doesn't mean he doesn't have opinions; I know that he has a core of principles that led him to oppose the Obsidian Order and that ultimately led him to agree with Berat about the need to rebel. That's the key distinction that separates him from someone like Garak. Deep down, there is a clarity of right and wrong in him, but he is not a man who stops at first impressions. He wants to investigate something from all sides and make sure he really knows what he's talking about.

    Part of it was even the fact that the Obsidian Order failed to follow any sort of sensible logic or reasonable correlation of behavior to consequence. He could tell they weren't a reasonable internal security force, but a menace.
  12. KimMH

    KimMH Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Jan 14, 2009
    The poster formerly known as ORSE
    Thanks for the wonderful additions! The subtleties of Cardassian culture - particulalry in relation to hierarchy feel distinctly Asian to me. (Your other supplementary put me in mind of the memoirs I've read of survivors of China's revolution and the way the political bodies were trying to reconcile age-old traditon with new millenium efficacy. A sometimes disastrous social experiment - e.g., The Great Leap Forward.)

    I espcially emjoy your use of the Cardassian language - it feels like "reading" a foreign film complete with subtitles!

    Your craft is remarkable and I always look forward to reading more!
  13. Nerys Ghemor

    Nerys Ghemor Vice Admiral Admiral

    Aug 4, 2008
    Cardăsa Terăm--Nerys Ghemor
    Thanks; glad you enjoyed it. :)

    You could say my Cardassians had their "Great Leap Forward" when the Union was first established..but yeah, trying to undo that is hard in its own way.

    While I haven't read those memoirs, I do think sometimes of Japanese culture when I write my Cardassians. Not entirely--my other big influence would have to be Russian culture.
  14. Deranged Nasat

    Deranged Nasat Vice Admiral Admiral

    Very sorry to take so long to reply, Nerys; I’ve been wanting to give a useful response, but my mind seems to have its switch in the “powered down” position at present. I very much enjoyed this, as usual, particularly its focus on Yerain’s POV, because I find him one of your most intriguing Cardassian characters. It’s very impressive how your interpretation of the race’s psychology has lent itself to truly individual characters who fit the established model while also showing some realistic and interesting variety. Yerain being situated towards one end of the spectrum, with his strong (maybe exaggerated) hierarchal instincts gives great insight into just how you imagine the Cardassian mind as alien to most humans, while keeping them unique people.

    Yejain's mind is very multi-faceted and highly structured, and that complexity is captured very well in your writing. There’s a cool, methodical order in there. In some ways it seems slow, and I don't mean that in a derogatory sense, I mean he has an interestingly measured outlook. I also concur with Gul Re'jal that Yerain seems not to assume that he has to reach a judgement or conclusion right away. He makes the contemplation and the measurement itself his concern rather than push himself to a "result" too swiftly. Which isn't to say he hasn't got a purpose in mind - we can see how displeased and even truly incomprehending he is of any exercise without sense (hence his condemnation of the OO). So he certainly doesn’t make the contemplation an end in itself. But he holds the need for it to lead somewhere at bay, and allows himself to work through the problem efficiently. I'm even getting the sense that he's perhaps equivalent to some humans with autism; that is, very rigid and measured but actually in other ways highly flexible and insightful, so long as he has his framework to steady himself. It’s almost like he’s capable of seeing the “big picture” that others might miss, but through the prism of the rules and boundaries rather than thinking “outside the box” in the manner of a Human or other less rigid intellect. I think the last few paragraphs reinforce this; they make it clear that his appreciation and commitment regarding order extends beyond his own position in the scheme of things and into a strong sense of the greater community. I really appreciate that because I find it a fascinating mirror to my own sense of community which is far more chaotic. Seeing a similar appreciation grounded in a much more rigid framework is really insightful and wonderful grounds for an alien reaction that’s still familiar to me.

    Another quick point: I liked his recollection of Daro's insights into Human memory and information retrieval; that was very interesting. Humans as seen through non-human eyes is often one of the harder aspects of this type of fiction to pull off, and it’s always good to see a thoughtful exercise in it.

    There was also some great humour in this one; the Cardassians have met their enemy, and it is the English language. :lol: The little snafu with the "no good deed" joke was amusing too; I guess for a people as attuned to hierarchy and order as most Cardassians, "punishment" and rebuke aren't concepts to be taken lightly.

    Great work as usual. :)
  15. Nerys Ghemor

    Nerys Ghemor Vice Admiral Admiral

    Aug 4, 2008
    Cardăsa Terăm--Nerys Ghemor
    Eek! I don't know how I missed your comments for so long! Sorry about that... :(


    You're right, to a Cardassian, Yejain's hierarchical instinct is considered particularly pronounced. Not abnormal, but certainly a distinguishing characteristic of his personality.

    Illogic makes Yejain mad. (Which proves he's no Vulcan.) And that's how the Obsidian Order pushed his buttons--by failing to follow any kind of sensible order from cause to consequence. You could easily imagine Yejain as a father; I imagine he's very measured in the same way towards his children...he doesn't let them get out of line, but he makes the punishment fit the "crime" and doesn't think it's necessary to break them to make sure they learn. He would find that a punishment so far beyond the small transgressions typical children commit that it would horrify him.

    It's interesting that you bring up the autism comparison...while the rigidity, by human standards, could seem to lead that way, in contrast, the hierarchical instinct strongly impacts social relationships and makes knowing the rules a bit more of an inborn thing for Cardassians than it is to humans. I actually think to a Cardassian, a human could look as if he or she were a little bit on the autism spectrum due to the failure to give some of the "right" tones, gestures, and responses according to various spoken and unspoken cues.

    As to learning disabilities and even the Cardassian equivalent of autism spectrum disorders, you actually have met one Cardassian with a learning disability already, and that's Gul Berat. If you compensated for the differences in his alien psychology, Gul Berat would show clear indications of ADHD. (Did you notice Yejain trying to steer Berat's interest towards the paperwork, a bit? He knows his gul needs a little bit of encouragement for such tasks. ;) )

    About Daro, I didn't want Daro to sound bigoted or like he was looking at humans as the be-all-end-all, as someone like Picard seemed to want. So I'm glad that part came off well to you. Daro sees strengths and weaknesses in both ways, but I get the feeling that he secretly enjoys the uniqueness of all the different species he's encountering. He's an academic by nature--not quite the analyst Yejain is, not as much the need to acquire every fact so that it can be put in its proper order; I think for him, it's a quiet curiosity for the sake of it.

    I am so glad the humor came across as funny! That's one of the things I feel the most self-conscious about writing, because it doesn't come naturally to me at all, and I consider it to be one of my weak areas.

    But yeah...after the Obsidian Order--and also with Berat a little bit tense because of the talk in the mess hall that didn't go so well--I didn't think Berat was likely to see the humor in the "no good deed goes unpunished" saying, only the sarcasm. (Though he wasn't so tense that a solid explanation wouldn't "defuse" him.)
  16. Rush Limborg

    Rush Limborg Vice Admiral Admiral

    Jul 13, 2008
    The EIB Network
    Of course not! Garak's alive, isn't he? :cool:

    Nerys, I have been sadly neglectful in not reading this section sooner. Very well-written and literary, as always.

    Specific thoughts: you convey quite well the consequences of prejuduce--not just the girl (whom I'm guessing is the Bajoran girl whose name sadly escapes me...?) mistaking Istep's legit actions for..."playing doctor" in the most contemptable sense of the word--but also in Yejain's attitudes towards humans. While not specifically prejudicial--he does truly respect Spirodopoulos--he still finds great difficulty assimilating the oddities of humanity.

    There's the many different "dialects" (:lol:), but his reflections on a human's unpredictability are particularly interesting. I wonder--is he even aware of the "hawk-dove" gap among humans? Because he seems to be interpereting the different policies of "appeasement/acommodation" and (to use a bad general term) "neoconservatism" as simply two elements of one style of policy, as opposed to two different styles whose respective use depend on the current leadership of the society.

    A note: funny you and Nasat should bring up autism--

    As someone on the Spectrum myself (Aspie, BTW), I find this most fascinating. Perhaps it is this which helps me enjoy Vulcans and Cardassians so much.

    While I can get a bit "motormouthed" when talking about things I like (which helps explain my feelings of identification with Bashir and Ezri), still, as you've no doubt noticed, when I analyze things, I really analyze things. And Yejain's rigidity is definitely something I can understand....

    Nice touch. For me, it depends on the paperwork....

    (Funny, I believe you once noted in a discussion with me how you saw Ezri as possibly having something akin to ADHD. It's interesting, aside from her wandering attention in the beginning of "Shadows And Symbols" ("I-I mean, at least I think it's Emony.... Hi, Jake!"), there's her noted hatred of company paperwork in "Prodigal Daughter"....)

    It'd be interesting to see more of this. Do you see Yejain as thinking more like a scientist, whereas Daro is more akin to a philosopher?
  17. Nerys Ghemor

    Nerys Ghemor Vice Admiral Admiral

    Aug 4, 2008
    Cardăsa Terăm--Nerys Ghemor
    Whether or not you'll smile about that fact depends on whose Garak you read... :p ;)

    Anyway, thanks for reading. :)

    You'll see who it is and exactly what happened in the next chapter. :)

    As for Yejain, you're right that he does have some prejudices and some difficulties comprehending humanity. That said, it's interesting to note that there is a difference between prejudice and bigotry. We all have prejudices, but we do not all let them turn into bigotry.

    Well...given what I think of Federation politics, which I'd have to get into at a later date, I'm not so sure Yejain is misinterpreting. I don't think there's as much of a gap anymore on Earth so much as one side having slapped down the other pretty "violently"...though that said, the Federation does have a rather expansionist/interventionist streak when it suits them. Woodrow Wilson would be proud. (Brrr...)

    That's very interesting to find that you understand him. Do his thought processes still seem alien to you, though? Just curious. :)

    I'm not quite sure I suggested Ezri having ADHD so much as the symptoms of her unprepared joining causing her to express similar behaviors...but that is interesting. :)

    That's a good word for it...Daro can be quite philosopher-like. Yejain actually reminds me a bit of Odo; I think he and Odo would've gotten along quite well. (Especially since Yejain doesn't do arbitrary punishments like Thrax and Dukat.)
  18. Rush Limborg

    Rush Limborg Vice Admiral Admiral

    Jul 13, 2008
    The EIB Network
    Well, by "neoconservative", I simply mean standing up to enemies--"hawkish", if you will.

    Not particularly. Again, my own "disorder" (and I use that word somewhat ironically) helps me identify with such processes, a great deal....

    We were toying with the idea, when I'd suggested Ezri's eccentricities weren't simply due to her joining. You noted similarities between her quirks and your own, I recall.

    But as I said, she noted to O'Brien that one reason she hated the idea of the family business involved paperwork. It kinda implies to me that her mind naturally isn't wired to focus on such things--and that her fast-paced personality was there prior to joining.

    It's funny you should bring up Odo. He and Bashir are actually the two DS9 guys I identify with the most.

    Odo is the outsider who throws himself into his passions, and has a great deal of trouble socializing with others outside such.

    Bashir is another outsider who copes with irreverence and at times (I freely admit) narcissism--and who seeks to find enjoyment in life whenever he can--and can get quite ticked off when encountering the injustice of life. (It also helps explain my attraction to Ezri--I think her own personality and ideals represent an "ideal" of sorts for Bashir, and similarly...)

    I suppose I swing from one fellow to the other, depending on my mindset.
  19. Nerys Ghemor

    Nerys Ghemor Vice Admiral Admiral

    Aug 4, 2008
    Cardăsa Terăm--Nerys Ghemor
    And here we are, on the first part of Chapter 20! I'd first like to thank Gul Re'jal and Lil Black Dog from Ad Astra for beta-reading this scene for me and helping me pinpoint some of the problems I was having with it.

    For those of you who are new to The Thirteenth Order, you can find the entire rest of the novel-in-progress at this link. New readers are just as welcome as old ones!

    If anyone has read my short story "Shared Practices," you may recognize the events here. These are indeed the same events, seen from Spirodopoulos' point of view.


    Chapter 20

    The Andorian woman was positively livid, both literally and figuratively, fueled by a combination of insult and injury. The instant she laid eyes on Spirodopoulos, she lunged forward as if to try to jump down off of the biobed. The Cardassian nurse tried—albeit from just beyond arm’s length—to warn her against it, but it was only when Spirodopoulos said, “Hold on a minute, Petty Officer!” that she went still.

    One antenna aimed at the human; the other pointed at the nurse like the business end of a rifle, both stretched taut and quivering with fury. “You need to tell that…doctor to hold on!” zh’Thessel snapped, jabbing a thumb at Istep, making his title sound for all the world like a synonym for ‘devil.’ “Sir!” she amended after a hard look from her de facto commanding officer.

    “Tell me exactly what happened,” Spirodopoulos ordered. And no commentary, just the facts, he almost added, but bit his tongue before it could get out. This harkened back to Spirodopoulos’ earliest days on Deep Space Five; he’d dealt with more than one allegation of sexual assault. And he knew very well that even if zh’Thessel had simply perceived an attempt at violation, it was both impractical and highly disrespectful to make it sound as though he wasn’t taking that perception seriously. One did not get to the bottom of an assault—or a terrible misunderstanding—by coming off in any way unsympathetic to the person making the charge. Even a misunderstanding could be deeply upsetting and ought never to be brushed off as insignificant. And zh’Thessel’s body language made it most clear that something had indeed happened, regardless of possible explanations.

    That doctor had just finished doing his scans when he ordered me to take off my clothes and let him look at me that way, and even let him put his hands all over me! Then he actually had the nerve to get angry at me when I told him ‘no’! He gave me some kind of garbage about it being standard procedure…for who?” zh’Thessel snapped. “Prisoners?

    Spirodopoulos lifted an eyebrow. That definitely didn’t sound like standard Starfleet medical procedure, except for surgery and other very specific cases of emergency. Federation privacy regs didn’t allow for an unclothed exam for species who wore such coverings, without explicit medical necessity—nor even creating a full holographic representation a person…any more than a simple layout of their internal organs…without their permission.

    As he got closer to her, zh’Thessel flinched. Seeing the clear evidence of her unease, Spirodopoulos stopped, pulled up a chair, and set it a little further away than he might have normally. “What did Dr. Istep do when you said ‘no’?”

    “He tried to spin it around on me and say I was the one getting all bent out of shape about ‘nothing,’ and then—”

    “How did he phrase it?” Spirodopoulos asked. He kept his voice low; while he needed the information now, while it was fresh on zh’Thessel’s mind, the last thing he wanted was for his interruption to come across as an attack or a contradiction. This was not his account to relate. It was hers.

    “Not quite like that,” zh’Thessel amended. “He said, ‘You’re taking my order completely the wrong way.’”

    The situation still didn’t make sense to the human officer—but it was starting to corroborate the sense he’d gotten from Istep’s comments…that of a serious cultural misunderstanding. He forced himself to pause for a moment; they both needed to gather their thoughts, and it would be disrespectful to rush. “Did Dr. Istep touch you after you refused consent?”

    “No, sir,” she grudgingly admitted.

    “Did he suggest there would be any reprisals for refusing?”

    Zh’Thessel grumbled. “He said he’d call you.”

    “Okay. Anything else?”

    “He sent that nurse in here to ‘keep me from leaving’ while he called you. Like I’m his prisoner!”

    Spirodopoulos nodded. “Is there anything else you would like me to know about what happened?”

    Zh’Thessel narrowed her eyes. “I think it’s pretty clear what happened, sir!” As much as Spirodopoulos wanted to retort that no, it was not clear, he knew very well that was the last thing he ought to do; something might be logical but it had to be presented gently. Respectfully. Or sometimes, at a more appropriate time, and this was not it—especially when he himself did not have full command of the facts, either.

    “All right,” he decided. “I’m going to go and speak with Dr. Istep, and see what his explanation is for this. Once I’ve heard from both of you, we’ll go from there. And if you think of anything else—any other details you want to let me know, please feel free to when I get back.” He tapped his wristcomm. What he almost said was, Istep-ra—Spirodopoulos, but that, too, would have been unkind to the Andorian woman under these circumstances. “Spirodopoulos to Dr. Istep…I’m ready.”

    Nurse Terop will show you to my office. If you would…” he finished, clearly addressing the riyăk.

    Gorhoç edek, Dalin,” the nurse replied, offering a shallow habitual bow despite her superior not being in the room. She pointed to a set of double doors in the back towards the left. Zh’Thessel’s troubled gaze followed the nurse’s finger. “He’s waiting in there, Commander.”

    Spirodopoulos thanked the nurse and walked back to Istep’s office. The doors slid open to reveal a room with a half-eaten lunch stashed away on a shelf and a cot folded up in the corner. As the human stepped through, Dr. Istep rose and favored Spirodopoulos with a quick bow. Then Istep straightened, regarding Spirodopoulos with a set of intense, wide-ringed black eyes. “Commander—please, tell me you’ve been able to reason with her! With a shock like the one she took, I must be permitted to conduct a thorough examination!”

    “Doctor,” Spirodopoulos began, “I understand from zh’Thessel that you ordered her to take off her clothes. Is that true?”

    Istep blinked, flinching back in astonishment. “I am a doctor—of course I did. Isn’t that what would happen if you were being treated for an injury? I can’t understand why she just jumped to all these nefarious conclusions. Is every Cardassian a rapist to her?” His great, dark eyes went wide at that.

    Spirodopoulos took a deep breath. “In the Federation, it is very, very rare for a doctor to ask a patient to take off his or her clothes. We consider that a violation of privacy, one that’s reserved for emergencies only.”

    “She sustained a plasma shock,” Istep retorted. “In my medical judgment, that certainly constitutes an emergency, even if she is conscious and trying to be up and around.”

    Spirodopoulos nodded. “I don’t dispute that part. But what I don’t understand is why she said you needed to ‘put your hands all over her.’ Can’t you take your readings with a medical tricorder? That is part of the reason for tricorders and scanners…to put an end to invasive examinations.”

    Istep’s nostrils flared when the translation of the word ‘invasive’ reached him, and with Spirodopoulos’ growing knowledge of Cardăsda grammar, he was very sure when that was. “I never intended any intrusion. We certainly use tricorders—but that is no reason for us to abandon our traditions.”

    The doctor pointed to the ankh-shaped protrusion on his forehead. “This is a bioelectric sensory node that is tied in with the Cardassian nervous system; we call it the krilătbre-yezul,” Hunter-eye, Spirodopoulos heard from the translator even as he listened past it to the original word. “Our ancestors used it to sense prey, and stronger predators. It’s a much weaker sense now, but Hebitian and Cardassian physicians have been using it for thousands of years to help us in diagnosing our patients. In sensing if something is off, something that medical sensors might not reveal yet. The bioelectric assessment is as much an art as it is a science; that’s why a decent physician will never rely on it exclusively. But we still find it a valuable supplement to the information we obtain with technology. It is a perfectly normal, expected part of a typical physical, on Cardassia—not a violation. It is not,” he reiterated, “some method of abuse.”

    “If the node is in the forehead,” Spirodopoulos asked, “then what is the purpose of touching the patient?” He thought he knew, but he wanted to hear the Cardassian say it.

    “Direct touch intensifies our receptivity to the bioelectric aura. It’s like using antennae to tune into radio signals.”
    Spirodopoulos nodded. “I think I understand now. Now, I’m not happy to hear that zh’Thessel threatened physical harm on you, directly or indirectly. That said…I hope you’ll understand why I don’t intend to take her to task for it. I ask that you not order Starfleet patients to disrobe again, or to accept your touch, unless you have no other option to treat them. Is it possible for you to treat a patient effectively without a bioelectric assessment?”

    “It is,” Istep replied, his tone colored by subdued displeasure.

    “Then I will ask you…and I will raise this with the infirmary staffs of all of our ships…to refrain from making it a mandatory part of your examinations of Starfleet soldiers. That includes if the patient is unconscious—they shall be considered as not having given consent.” Istep wordlessly nodded his understanding. “But,” Spirodopoulos added, seeing the Cardassian doctor deflate before his eyes, “I have no problem with your offering it as an option, provided you fully explain what it is you intend to do, and you couch it as an offer, not an order. We have alternative medicine on many of our worlds too, so you might find some people who will relate it to things they know from their cultures even though it’s not a Starfleet practice.”

    Istep sighed. “I can also make a Starfleet witness available.”

    “That would be a good idea,” Spirodopoulos said, counting himself fortunate that Istep himself had volunteered the idea first. “But Doctor…I want to thank you for taking the time to explain this to me. I know this has to be very different from anything you’ve ever experienced.”

    “This is my first time to treat people from so many species. I’ve treated the odd Xepolite or Lissepian, but those are worlds with a close relationship to the Cardassian Union.” Vassal states, Spirodopoulos thought to himself, but there was no way a doctor like Istep bore any responsibility for Central Command’s expansionism. “They know our customs, and it simply didn’t occur to me that a standard medical examination could be taken so badly. Or that your people would place such strictures on your doctors. I would like the chance to explain to your soldier what happened. And to apologize. Then I will place the remainder her care in the hands of Nurse Terop and one of your field medics, with myself in an advisory capacity. I believe I’ve done irreversible damage, where zh’Thessel is concerned.”

    “I believe that would be best for her.” Spirodopoulos did not deny the Cardassian physician’s assessment—for in spite of the misunderstanding at the root of this incident, the expression in zh’Thessel’s eyes had reflected the profound degree to which it had disturbed her. Still, he had no wish to see the doctor’s reputation dragged through the mud—either by one of his own officers, or by Istep himself. The Thirteenth Order had no Starfleet doctors; the four Cardassian CMO’s were all they had, though the combined education of the Starfleet nurses and field medics was certainly nothing to sneeze at. “Still, I will help you with that explanation,” Spirodopoulos volunteered. “If it will help, I can roll up my sleeve and let you do a partial demonstration.” That might be a little easier said than done, given the thicker material of the typical Cardassian uniform, but it could still work.

    “That is most gracious.” Dr. Istep nodded, then gave a much deeper bow than the one he’d begun with, breaking eye contact. This, Spirodopoulos understood, was a bow of contrition, not simply acknowledgment. “I simply wish to care for my patients,” he concluded.

    “You will,” Spirodopoulos assured him.

    The human officer’s wristcomm chirped, and he tapped it. “Spirodopoulos here.”

    Commander,” came Chief Librescu’s voice, “we have the results of our damage-pattern study.”

    “Be ready to review them in forty-five minutes,” Spirodopoulos ordered. “I have one last matter to conclude here, and then I will see Gul Macet about giving us the Trager wardroom.”

    In that moment, Spirodopoulos became more strongly aware of the Cardassian cuirass sitting on his chest and shoulders. This was it: Librescu’s results would either provide the last confirmation he needed—or prove that he, Makis Spirodopoulos, stood guilty of high treason and leading his people into the commission of said act.
  20. Rush Limborg

    Rush Limborg Vice Admiral Admiral

    Jul 13, 2008
    The EIB Network
    Hmm...I'm not sure what Spiro means about "high treason". What is this controversy about? What would damage-patterns have to do with it?

    Other than that: Nerys, another good piece. Though I was wrong about who the girl was...I'm glad to see I was right about what was going on.

    A nice look at Cultural Misunderstandings.

    Looking forward to what you can give us next!