[Gul Aren’s Private Quarters, CUS Elbrin]
[Three Days Later]
The ship’s Communications Officer woke Aren out of her sleep with a priority message from Cardassia Prime. Because she had been sleeping for several hours already, it took a few moments for her to gather her unruly hair into something resembling a presentable appearance before she finally sank down in front of her quarters’ desk and accepted the communication.
“Gul Aren,” the face of the Chairman flashed onto her screen.
“Chairman Rekal,” the woman replied in kind before adding, “What are your orders?”
“You are to divert your ship to the enclosed coordinates. Once you and your personal gear has been transferred, you will order your ship to return to Cardassia Prime,” Rekal explained, pleased that the Gul was so quick to understand the purpose of her communication.
“At once,” Aren responded resolutely.
Rekal waited a few moments before speaking again, “Also, you will be given the rank of Legate for the duration of the… experiment. Should your performance prove to be of substantial merit during this endeavor, the appointment will be made permanent. Good luck… Cardassia out.”
The screen reverted to a situational readout, which Aren promptly used to find the coordinates that had been provided to her, as well as to confirm her appointment to Legate. When she located both items and ensured that nothing was amiss with either of them, Aren allowed herself a mirthful grin before setting about getting dressed.
Once she was sure that she was presentable, Legate Aren departed her quarters, making her way quickly to the bridge of the ship that would soon no longer be hers. The spring in her step was uncharacteristic of her, but not so much so that she felt she needed to stifle it. After all… she had every reason to be elated at her fortune at the moment.
Entering the bridge of the Elbrin, Legate Aren approached the command chair, which was swiftly vacated by the wide eyed Glinn who manned the night watch on the bridge. There were several crewmen who gave their now former Gul quizzical looks, but true to form, Aren felt absolutely no need to explain anything to them and merely began issuing orders to the crew, setting them on course to meet with the station she would soon take command of. Once she had ensured that everything on the bridge was taken care of, she had the Gil manning the communications console to contact her Executive Officer and have him meet her in her office.
It took very little time to walk from the bridge to her office on the ship, and it appeared that whatever had been passed along by the Gil had prompted her XO to run from his quarters to her office. While the man walked in attempting to look as composed as possible, it was obvious by the sweat glistening on his forehead that he had made a great effort to be as punctual as possible.
“Dal Temek,” the new Legate said with a smirk on her face, “It would appear that I have been reassigned. Prior to my departure, however, I have some final orders for you from the Council, more to the point, from the Chairman herself.”
“I see…” the man straightened up, his mind already starting to work out how the conversation was going to play out.
“I’ve diverted the ship to Empok Nor,” Legate Aren began, prompting a confused look on the man’s face.
“I’ve never heard of that station…” the man admitted after trying to decide if such an admission was acceptable.
“Nor had I until a little while ago when I was given its coordinates. It was supposedly an old Obsidian Order station that was hidden from public knowledge just inside of our borders. It is in a small star system that has almost no economic value to the Union or anyone else. The perfect location to conduct all manner of operations in obscurity, wouldn’t you agree?” the Legate continued.
“It wouldn’t be the first time the old Obsidian Order had buried something away for ‘safekeeping’,” Temek said with an unimpressed look on his face.
“The old Order was rather fond of the practice, yes,” Aren nodded at the man’s statement, “But that isn’t what matters. I have been assigned as the station’s commander. I will be departing the ship once we arrive. Once I have been transferred over, you will take the Elbrin back to Cardassia Prime. That comes directly from the Council, so I would assume they mean to debrief you and inform you and the crew what your next assignment will be.”
“Very well, Legate,” the man said, nodding curtly to the woman sitting behind the desk.
“I would advise you to keep knowledge of our destination as quiet as you can, Temek. It is a rather important endeavor in the eyes of the Council, and I’m certain that their choice of location and its obscurity were no accidental choices. I would hate to see you or the crew disposed of to protect a secret…” Aren warned with no small bit of personal satisfaction at being able to issue such an obvious threat.
“I will make sure the crew is discreet about the destination, and what they might see while we are there,” Temek said.
“Oh… none of you will be setting foot on the station. You will drop me off and then depart immediately,” Aren smiled.
“Ah…” the man said, his face contorting indignantly for a moment.
“If you would, go to the bridge and ensure that the officers there understand the situation, and have them man their stations until you are on your way back to Cardassia Prime to minimize the possibility of issues,” the Legate asked in a manner that allowed for no refusal.
Dal Temek nodded in understanding and headed back out of the Legate’s office to carry out her instructions. When she was left alone, Legate Aren began the somewhat simple task of gathering her belongings to make ready for the transfer that was awaiting her in just a few short hours.
[Legate Aren’s Quarters, Empok Nor]
Aren awoke earlier than she normally would, a mixture of nerves and the new environment playing a role in it in equal parts. The quarters that were designated to her by virtue of her position were lavish by the standards of even her former position as a Gul, as if to accentuate the clear difference in the two posts. There was almost nothing about her accommodations that didn’t scream opulence. It would take some getting used to, but in the back of her mind, Aren didn’t imagine herself undeserving of it in the least.
The Legate rose languidly from her bed, fully aware that she had ample time before she would need to make her way to Station Ops and present herself to the new crew that she would be taking command of. Before that, however, Aren opted to use the bathing facilities in her quarters, allowing herself the luxury of an actual bath, vice a sonic shower like she would generally use. It was a worthwhile expenditure of time to indulge, as it made her much more relaxed and ready to confront the day.
Thanks to the rather traditional mindset inherent in Cardassian design, Empok Nor was identical in layout to most of the other Nor-class stations she’d been on, making it rather pointless to wander the corridors to familiarize herself with the place. Most of the station’s facilities were currently sitting empty, with even the promenade ring hosting only a small bar run by a Cardassian civilian who’d been a member of the crew for some time before leaving active service. The rest of the spaces were left open in hopes that commerce would soon find itself a place on the quiet outpost.
It was a bit disconcerting that everything was so subdued, almost devoid of life. The few Cardassians that occupied the spaces weren’t really engaging in much conversation, and what little did take place was mostly post-work banter that was a universal topic no matter the culture. If the attitudes of the crew that were on the station was any indicator, she would already have a problem keeping them occupied while things got underway. It made the thought of having breakfast in her new office a more appealing prospect than sitting at the replimat facility listening to disinterested blather.
Finding the nearest lift that would take her to Station Ops, Aren abandoned the somewhat leisurely stroll in favor of getting down to business. The lift ride gave her ample time to compose herself and her thoughts before she stepped out into the Operations Center of her new station to find that it was at least a little busier than the promenade had been.
“Legate Aren,” a female Dalin approached, “Welcome to Ops. At the moment, there isn’t anything especially exciting happening on the station, so I’m afraid a situation report might bore you.”
“The walk from my quarters clued me in to how… tranquil… the station was at the moment. Where is my First Officer?” the Legate asked, sweeping her eyes over the various people in the room to see who might fit the bill.
The Dalin in front of her shifted uncomfortably, “That would… be me… Legate.”
“Oh…” Aren said as she raised an inquisitive eyebrow for a moment before shaking off the mild shock of the information, “Very well then, Dalin…”
“Nefet,” the woman offered up in response.
“Dalin Nefet,” Aren nodded, committing the name to memory, “I am Legate Aren, and I formally assume command of this station.”
“The station is yours, Legate,” the Dalin nodded respectfully before moving to the side to allow the Legate to pass by her.
Aren crossed the expanse between the lift cluster and the office that stood on the opposite side of the room, mounting the stairs without wasting any time wandering around Ops. The door to her office slid open to allow her entry, and Aren wasted no time sinking down into the chair behind the desk to begin the day’s work, such as it currently was. It was almost by accident that the Legate looked up to find the Dalin standing just inside the doorway.
“Yes?” was all Aren bothered to ask in response to the younger woman.
“I was wondering if I could speak with you for a moment, Legate,” came the subdued response to Aren’s somewhat impatient query.
“If you must,” the Legate sighed and motioned to the chairs in front of her desk.
The Dalin took a moment to close the distance between them, but chose not to sit. Once her hands were folded behind her back in a disciplined manner, Nefet began to speak.
“The station’s crew has come to me wishing to know the purpose for our deployment to this station that no one had heard of until we were handed orders and shifted off here. With the exception of our bartender, who swears he’s been on this station for years, there isn’t a soul here who has been here longer than a week… myself included. We were given no formal briefing as to our mission, and no explanation as to why we are here. Aside from keeping the station operational, we haven’t had anything else to really do…” Nefet explained at length.
“We are here at the will of the Chairman of the Detapa Council, Dalin, and that is all that anyone on this station should need to know. We are serving the greater good of the Cardassian people by being here, and it is that service that brought everyone to this station. Until I decide that further information is prudent, that is all you and the crew are required to know. If things do not work out in a manner that the Council believes they will, there will be no reason to brief anyone further as there will be nothing to brief. This station will continue to operate here in secret and we will all go about our dreary little lives without end, until the Council has need of us elsewhere,” Legate Aren said firmly.
“Very well, Legate, I will pass that word along,” the Dalin said with a somewhat disappointed lilt to her voice.
“See that you do…” Aren said as she turned away from the woman. Thankfully the Dalin was astute enough to take it as a sign that she was dismissed and headed back out into the main Operations area to begin the task of detailing their current marching orders, which was basically to carry on in the dark until there was something to pass along to them.