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Chapter Two

Gul Arek Latham paced into the office of Legate Soltan on the temporary Sarpedion listening post.

The small sentry station, manned by a very minimal skeleton crew, was charged with supervising the construction of a new starbase. That starbase was one of the most heavily fortified installations in the Cardassian Empire’s core systems. In the final weeks of the Dominion War, the base’s commander, Legate Goras, ordered an emergency redeployment of his fleets to Cardassia Prime. He had then put the starbase on self-destruct before the Vorta supervisors’ suspicions were aroused. The loss of the starbase had put the Dominion and Breen fleets at a tremendous disadvantage when a Federation Alliance armada came bearing down.

Unfortunately, Goras was promptly killed when Gul Revok had dealt the rebellion a potentially crippling blow by luring large numbers under the command of Goras and Damar to the homeworld. The new sector commander was now the newly minted Legate Soltan, who very nearly became another casualty of Revok’s treachery.

“The Pakar was a good ship,” Soltan remarked to Latham as the double doors slid shut. “It’s a shame it was lost in battle to the ancient enemy.”

“Your sympathies are much appreciated,” Latham responded with an acknowledging nod while seating himself in one of the guest chairs. “On a happier note, congratulations on your promotion, Legate.”

Soltan circled his desk and sat upon the leather chair. “I was lucky to have survived the Dominion purge. When Damar’s troops had not arrived at the designated coordinates, I knew immediately that either Gul Revok or Legate Goras had sold him out.” He poured himself and Latham single shots of kanar. “Ironically, I now occupy Legate Goras’s office. Many of our most brilliant military strategists were lost.” He raised his glass in a toast. “Here’s to one day avenging Gul Revok’s treachery.”

“Easier said than done considering he’s ex-Obsidian Order,” Latham deadpanned, lifting his glass, “but much more satisfying when that day comes. Speaking of the Obsidian Order, another of their former agents may be among my crew.”

“What led you to that supposition?” Soltan inquired before quickly downing his drink.

Latham then finished his beverage in one gulp. “My second-in-command, Glinn Orlak, suggested unleashing a virus that would disable the library computers of the Starfleet vessel that had come to our rescue. A suggestion I instantly rejected.”

“As you were right to do. That is no way to repay such gracious hosts.”

Latham sighed with reluctance at providing further details about his recent sting operation. “I still had the sense that Orlak, Glinn Maret, or both would still choose to circumvent my orders. And if that is the case, I am hopefully one step closer to learning the identity of this traitor.”

“I have Intelligence Bureau informants aboard the Cralgar who will monitor their movements,” Soltan offered.

The word that resonated in Latham’s mind was the ship name. What good would informants on that ship do, unless…? “The Cralgar?” he repeated with hopeful anticipation that he would soon get a new ship.

“It has been undergoing a major refit since the war’s end,” Soltan explained. “Its captain and much of the senior crew are on extended leave. In the meantime, I have assigned you as its temporary commander. It’s a Galor-class warship, but it’s the best Central Command can spare given how divisive our politics are. There have been additional attacks in Sector two-six by seven-one by eight. We need experienced Guls on the front lines.”

Latham slowly rose from his chair and stood at attention. “I aim to serve in any way I can.”

Soltan stood up to acknowledge Latham’s acceptance of his new command. “As we all do. Good luck, Arek.” He put out one hand, and the Cardassian officers shared a handshake.

“Thank you,” Latham replied with a light grin. With a prompt glance at the Legate crest on the once fellow Gul’s uniform, he added a hesitant, “…sir.”

###

Glinn Printus Orlak fidgeted in a hardwood desk chair while studying the monitor. Something seemed a little bit off about his cabin aboard the Cralgar. Maybe he had gotten used to slightly larger quarters on a Dracon-class heavy cruiser, but he wasn’t much to complain. These quarters were as spacious and luxurious as those of any Gul’s aide. Of course, the lights were usually fully functional and the sonic shower had a more lasting comforting effect.

It was a necessary evil, he reminded himself as he saw an indicator light flash on the monitor, considering many other soldiers of his rank were consigned to a life of semi-luxury so soon after the war. He placed a listening device next to his right ear. Recognizing the voice he heard as that of the USS Lambda Paz’s tactical officer Mandel Morrison, he adjusted a control on the monitor to increase the volume.

“This is high priority. Convoy liner six-seven-nine alpha-red has capsized. Repeat. Convoy liner six-seven-nine alpha-red has capsized. Please render any assistance possible.”

Orlak set aside the earpiece and tapped the monitor screen to enlarge the dialogue box containing that audio recording. “Computer,” he instructed, “extrapolate from that transmission the position of the Starfleet vessel sending that transmission.”

A star map appeared on the screen with a set of grid coordinates. Per Orlak’s instructions, the computer highlighted the location of a Federation starship. He was momentarily perturbed when he noticed the Lambda Paz was at the same coordinates as when the Pakar’s crew disembarked. He quickly ignored that peculiarity to issue the next set of instructions. “Computer, can you locate any other Starfleet vessels that might have received that transmission?”

“Affirmative,” the computers feminine voice responded.

Orlak then entered a set of commands to attach locational data on the other Starfleet ship that appeared on the display screen to an outgoing message. He was momentarily distracted by the doorbell. He kept his attention on the screen and ordered the message transmitted.

“Come in,” he called, as he deactivated the screen.

Dalin Pirella Thomar entered the room, wearing a tightly tied black robe that covered her body down to just above her feet. Orlak flashed a scheming smirk. He recognized her attire as one meant to hide the fact that they were lovers, which also piqued his curiosity as to what she was wearing, or not wearing, underneath. While Gul Latham did know of their romantic affiliation, they still wanted to keep it quiet among their subordinates. Besides, Orlak didn’t want any of the junior officers leering at his woman.

Thomar closed and locked the door while untying her robe to reveal a form fitting diaphanous dress. Orlak quickly paced towards her and they kissed. Their hands crawled up the other’s bodies—she unlatched his uniform armor while he lowered the straps on her dress, sending it to the floor.



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