Deep Space Nine: Musings of the Dragon Gul

Discussion in 'THREAD ARCHIVES' started by Steel Hyaena, Jun 11, 2013.

  1. A lone Galor-class cruiser, flat black rather than the usual amber hull, drifts close to Deep Space Nine. Upon its bridge, its commanding officer allows his mind to track the past...

    I am sitting on the bridge of my ship, in the command chair, and my eyes are closed. The view within my mind is occupying my attention more than that seen outside the forward viewport. I have a few minutes left before our final approach to Terok Nor... or 'Deep Space Nine' as its new tenants call it.

    I look into the past, at the hell that was Mursilis IV—the class Y planet that I chose for my final test as a Surface-Tactical Marine. The radiation would have rotted my flesh and bones had I not had the protective suit I wore, and the heat would have charred what was left nearly to carbon. But I prevailed.

    I look at Setlik III—the site of a massacre, a black deed done under the pretense that the Federation colony there was a staging area for an attack on our space. The evidence for this was tenuous at best, and the force used there, excessive. I know that a survivor—indeed, a hero—of that engagement is present on this station. Perhaps this Chief Miles O'Brien and I will cross paths.

    I look at Hedrikspool Province on Bajor, where I served for a single year as a prefect. The people were starving, terrified and demoralized, and my heart weighed heavily to see it. A Bajoran child smiles as beautifully as a Cardassian child when given bread, and so I gave bread and all else I could manage. My reasoning was sound: not only was what we were doing wrong, people also cannot work their hardest or smartest when weak from malnutrition. When Gul Dukat learned what I was doing, he remonstrated with me. Rather than be brought up on charges of sedition, I resigned my post.

    My eyes are now open. I look over the bridge of the most powerful vessel in all the Cardassian Union. I command her because of a man named Legate Ghemor. Neither he nor I are happy with the current way of things in the Union. Once, we Cardassians were as peaceful and spiritual a people as the Bajorans. A return to that would heal so many wounds—within and without. But these men over whom I watch, good officers all, have not come round yet to such realizations. I well know that I am different than they. The secret is written in the markings I bear down my back.

    It is all in the blood...
  2. It had been a long few weeks. Weeks filled with sorrow, quiet, and troubles. But now people were starting to move on. Jadzia Dax was used to change. She had never gotten used to seeing friends go through pain, however. And as much as she'd tried to be there for those who needed a friend, a morale boost, or just someone to be in the same room with, she was tired. Maybe that was why she didn't notice the approaching ship at first that day in Ops.

    "Sir, there's a ship approaching. Cardassian. Galor class" Jadzia looked up at the voice of one of the junior officers. "Sir, it's practically at the station already!"

    "Hail them and find out what ship that is." Jadzia moved around the station she'd been working in, moving to one that wasn't full of statistics packages that were taking their sweet time finishing. Before anyone could determine just what ship was moving slowly but steadily far too close to the station for comfort, the young man spoke up again.

    "Sir, they're responding to our hails. It's the Raajoth. They're requesting permission to dock. Sir, I think I know that name..."

    Jadzia knew it, too, vaguely. The Raajoth was a transport for elite soldiers, the Sur-Tacs, as dangerous and deadly as any special ops team in the quadrant. The captain was a man with a reputation, one that Jadzia didn't know the truth of. She tried to calm a tingle of worry that coiled up from her gut. That they hadn't announced themselves sooner might have been an oversight. Then again, they might have deliberately wanted to show the station just what it was dealing with.

    "Give them permission to dock at Upper Pylon 2 and send a security team to greet them. Please ask them to leave their weapons aboard their own ship if they plan on entering the station and inform them that security will be relaying further instructions for coming aboard." Not that it will matter much. These are people who don't really need weapons if they decide to cause trouble... Hopefully they won't risk an incident. "Inform Major Kira that we have Cardassian visitors. I'm going to meet them"

    With that, she strode to the turbolift. "Upper Pylon 2."

    The ride gave her time to think. It was very unlikely, given recent events, that these Cardassians wanted trouble. But then, one never knew and the fact that they were Sur-Tac... it could mean anything. As the turbolift came to a halt, it clicked into place just WHY she knew the name of the Raajoth. The captain was a music aficionado. Well, perhaps this wouldn't be all bad. The worry that had been nagging at her dispersed as the usual Dax excitement for a new encounter surged to the surface. She paused by the airlock, noting that security was in place. The ship would dock soon.
  3. What stepped through the circular door and into the station would startle nearly anyone. He had to actually duck a bit to come through the portal and into the passageway. The Cardassian commander wore the black, form-fitting deflection armor worn by all Surface-Tactical Marines, and the the Gul's insignia on the left shoulder glinted in red and gold. As he spotted Jadzia, he smiled—a genuine smile that reached eyes of startling green.

    Gul Torak was a splendid example of his kind. His skin was a deep, rich slate tone with a slight bluish cast and his features and ridges symmetrical, carrying almost none of the roughness that showed in many Cardassian males. He towered over her at six-feet-ten—larger than even many Klingons. His hair was worn very long and the metal-clipped end of the braid hung at waist level. He carried no visible armament, though his wrist bore the standard Cardassian communicator and he carried a tricorder on one hip.

    The door closed behind him; though station protocol would have allowed him to have two assisting men from his crew with him, he seemed comfortable in being aboard the station alone. Everything about him glowed with confidence, vigor and a strangely-comforting energy.

    "If I remember correctly... Deep Space Nine has a Trill Sciences Officer named Lieutenant Commander Jadzia Dax, who is said to be a lovely woman with dark hair." He offered a huge hand with elegantly-long fingers and a copper-pressed latinum ring bearing a jevonite stone on its middle finger. "If indeed I have your identity right, Lieutenant-Commander Dax... I would like to present myself as Gul Torak, commander of the Cardassian Surface Tactical Marines. I am aboard with a proposal for your Captain Sisko." His voice was beautiful—deep and resonant, and the accent almost musical. Torak had taken the trouble to speak to Dax in Standard rather than relying on the Universal Translator. The smile never left the vivid eyes as he awaited her response.
  4. It was clear she was holding a smile in check, the grin still tugging at the corners of her mouth as he introduced himself. He was certainly polite. She unclasped her hands from behind her back, reaching to accept his own firmly for a mere second before the same hand gestured down the corridor.

    "You're right. I'm Jadzia and it's a pleasure to meet you. Captain Sisko is having dinner at the moment, but I'll be sure to inform him you're here." Touching the com badge on her chest, she spoke softly. "Benjamin, there's a Gul here to see you. He says his name is Torak."

    "Tell him I'm busy at the moment, but I'll meet with him as soon as possible. Do me a favor, Old Man, and entertain the Gul. Take... take him to Qwark's. Or give him a tour of the station!"

    "I'm sure I'll find something on the station that will meet with his approval." The comm badge went silent. For a moment, that silence remained as the two and the security officer who'd been assigned to follow them for the time being turned the corner. It was unlikely that the man walking beside her had missed the conversation, but he didn't appear to be reacting. Curious, Jadzia watched him from the corner of her eye. They passed a junction in the hall, pausing only to let a repair crew pass them. Still, he was quiet and she was wondering more and more just what was going on in that mind. She was also curious at Ben's attitude. This man must be someone of importance but at the same time, the captain wasn't in any hurry to meet with him.

    "I'm sure you heard," she finally said. "So, would you prefer to see the station? If you've been here before, it's changed a great deal. Or would you rather go straight to Qwark's? It's never dull there."
  5. As Gul Torak walked at the side of Jadzia Dax, he found himself musing back on part of his past. The last time he had seen Zoran—his younger brother—he had been stationed on Bajor. The return to the system and the station brought back the conversation they had had. The intervening ten years had not dulled the strangeness or his sorrow.

    "Little brother, I'm not entirely sure I believe in all this." The words were spoken gently; Gul Torak didn't want to bruise the feelings of his younger brother.

    They were both Cardassian. They were both of the old Torak family, and they both bore the strange reticulation down their necks and backs—the marks were called 'witch-tracks' by the ignorant. Very few Cardassians bore the strange markings. It was rare for them to appear once in five generations, let alone to have two sons from the same family so marked. But their family, heritage, height and markings were where the similarities ended.

    Kevros Torak—six years the older—was immensely tall, towering at six-feet-ten. His brother was three inches shorter, still very tall at six-feet-seven. Zoran, however, was far slighter, his frame almost fragile. Likewise, his facial features were delicate, the eyes of palest silver uptilting and almost luminous. Where his older brother had deep grey skin, his own skin tone was a pallid dove-grey, light enough to seem unattractive to many of his own kind. And that was not the last of the differences.

    Zoran was considered too delicate of body and mind to serve in the military, so he had turned instead to scholarly pursuits. He had achieved the highest possible degrees in the philosophy and history of his own people and had matched them with studies of many other cultures over the years. Zoran Torak was a genius, intuitive—some said, almost preternaturally so. And thus it was that they had come to be where they were, that very moment.

    The brothers Torak were sitting in the house in which they had grown up. As the older and more lauded of the brothers, Kevros had inherited everything left behind in their parents' estate when they had been killed in a shuttle accident. Concerned for the little brother he adored, he had given nearly all of it to Zoran immediately, keeping only some of the considerable sum of money left in the accounts. So, this table at which they sat, the chairs they rested upon—all here belonged to the younger Torak brother, who had wanted the elder present this day to thank him, and also supposedly to give him a gift.

    "You don't now. But you will, Kev'a." Zoran smiled as he used the old nickname he had had for his brother. "Take them in your hands. Shuffle them, just like I showed you." He pressed the deck of strange cards into the hesitant hands of his older brother. "You play Terran musical instruments and you love their old music. How is it strange that I should love their forms of magic? Shuffle them, Kev'a, and then give them back. You'll know when they're ready to come back."

    Feeling a little foolish, Kevros did as his strange little brother requested. He shuffled the cards, hand over hand, gazing down at the designs on their backs as he did so. They had a strange design of interlocking spirals spreading over them. Looking at them for long seemed to make him dizzy, but he dismissed the effect as an optical illusion. Kevros could not, however, ignore the strange tingle that spread from his fingertips and up his arms, after a few moments. He gasped and handed the cards back to his brother as quickly as though he'd been burnt. Zoran laughed, the sound silvery, and accepted them.

    "I'm going over those with my tricorder after this," Kevros growled. "Not funny, Zor'a."

    "You will find nothing but cardstock and ink, brother. Now... shhh." He began laying out cards, wide, pale eyes staring down at them avidly. He set down five groups of three, and studied them, arachnodactylous fingers brushing them. "Such things I have to reveal to you, Kev'a. These, here in the center... this is where you are now. Good luck—as much luck as skill, brother. See? That is called the Wheel of Fortune, there in the center. But those flanking it... that is Interference, the Eight of Swords, and to its right, the Knight of Swords. Something is moving fast, something that is going to hinder your progress greatly.

    "There... look to my left, your right. That upper three is a path of the future. Prudence, the Ten of Disks, flanked by the Hermit to its right and Futility, the Seven of Swords on the left. If you do what you are thinking of doing as a sudden change in routine, know that you will face obstacles. There will be pain and grief. But you will learn so much... so much, my brother.

    "And there, on my right and your left... this other path of the future is what will happen if you continue as you are. Strength—you have that in more than your measure. But flanking it is Pleasure, the Six of Cups, and Failure, the Seven of Coins. Your hubris will catch up to your luck, Kev'a. And you will end in pieces if you continue as you are.

    "At my lower left, your right, look and see the Prince of Cups—that is you, Kev'a, depths upon depths of love and honor. You are what is the best in us all. This set of three represents psychological factors controlling all things in this reading. Flanking you to the left is the Fool—take that scowl off and toss it to the wind, I am not calling you a fool. And to your right, Truce. Remember the time we went to the Caves of Simbarl and we got lost? Remember how you said you saw light in the water and dived in to see if it was a way out? You could have drowned. There could have been razorfish or kifthrai in that pool. But you jumped in anyway, trusted your senses and you found the light. You saved us both. And you will save innumerable others again. Close your eyes... trust your senses... trust your luck and the Gods. Jump.

    "The last set, brother, is comprised of factors that are working outside your will, outside your influence or outside your control." Zoran lifted ice-pale eyes to the face of his brother and stared at him. And then he lowered his eyes to the spread once again.

    "In the center is the Ten of Swords, Ruin. Flanking that is Indolence, the Eight of Cups, and to its right, Adjustment. All will fall. That which has happened—the breaking of things and the neglect of others—will prove to be the fire in which we burn. A hand harder and far more cruel even than our own shall close upon our necks and choke out out life. In all this, though, there is a spark of hope." Zoran leaned forward and cupped his brother's face in both his hands. "The Gods have appointed you for this thing, Kevros. Stop the Fall. Stop the Burning. Close your eyes... trust your senses... and jump."

    Kevros stared into his brothers strange and zealous eyes, unable to look away. There had been a change in the younger Torak brother—it was all too apparent now. He wanted to shove it aside, write it off as his brother going mad, but the words spoken in the reading rang true as a bell. He swallowed with an audible click and then drew a ragged breath.

    "You spoke of the Gods. Which Gods? Those of Bajor—the Prophets? We have no gods on Cardassia."

    "Oh, but we do, Kev'a. We have the Te'khaj. We have the Faith of the Four Sentinels. It is not yet time, but I shall tell you of all this soon enough. For now... I must rest, and you must think. Tonight, you will sleep, and you will dream. Schlaf ein, mein Herz... mein Bruder. Ich liebe dich."

    Jadzia spoke, then, and shook him from his thoughts. He looked down to the Trill woman walking at his side and smiled.

    "I'm sorry... I'm taken by a bit of nostalgia. This system brings back some memories. The last time I saw my younger brother, I was stationed as prefect of Hedrikspool Province. He... disappeared shortly after I returned from leave and I have not heard anything from him in years. Qwark's would be just fine, though." The smile Torak gave to Jadzia was a little sad.
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