Orias ~ The Morning After

Previously ~ Humble Roots

Salome Jens as
the Female Shapeshifter
The Dominion vessel Eti'Klan

"Founder, far be it for me to disagree with you, but I do not trust the Cardassians."

Only Malest could speak to a Founder thusly; any other Vorta would've been terminated on the spot.

The Female Shapeshifter, ever clad in her plain orange dress, didn't turn from her window.  Instead she continued to stare out at them, as though memorizing each one to make sure it stayed in its place.

At last, she spoke.

"You once said the same thing about the Recluvians."

"Yes, Founder."

"And the Kadrinese."

"Yes, Founder."

"You also made similar observations about the Adrinites."

"Yes, Founder."

"What makes the Cardassians different from them?"

Malest replied honestly, "Founder, the Cardassians are the least trustworthy and most arrogantly patriotic of all the species I've encountered.  Even as she watches the Klingons and the Maquis deliver one crippling blow after another to her world, Legate Danaian still cannot envision herself as anything but a Cardassian citizen."

"As I recall, Oanna is not the only Legate running Central Command."

"No, Founder, but if the rest of the council voted to join the Dominion, the soldiers would look to the Legate for guidance.  If she vetoes such a vote, they will follow her."

"Well," the tall Shapeshifter reasoned, finally turning from the window, "you will simply have to find a way to strip her of that power and install yourself as their new favorite."

"Yes, Founder."

"How many worlds have we taken together, Malest?  I've lost count.  There's never been an army you haven't beaten, nor a world you haven't broken.  The Cardassians will be no different.  In time, you will see."

"Yes, Founder."


The key was to let him set the pace of things, to give the impression she wouldn't flip out if he didn't want this to continue.

She didn't speak first.  Long after she woke up next to him in her bed aboard the Tianor, Mayal pretended to sleep, keeping her breathing even and resisting the strong urge to snuggle in closer.  It was because it was Enoras; she hadn't even found him remotely attractive until last night.  And it definitely wasn't the manufactured hero thing; this was the same Enoras who was unable to outwit Sakonna nor keep her line.

It had been very a long time since she'd had a warm body in her bed.  She couldn't even remember the last person she'd slept with, though she did have some fuzzy memories of an Orion Dabo girl she met on Lissepia last year.

The door to her quarters slid open suddenly, causing her to jump and almost reach for the disrupter she kept under her mattress.

"You will never guess what the news service just announced -"

Ihrenne stopped short, finding the two Guls naked on Mayal's bed.  Her jaw fell open as she stared, brazenly asking, "Is that...is that Enoras?"

"Yes, yes," he yawned, wrapping a comforter about himself and climbing out of bed.  "I can see how this is all very amusing," he added, heading for the bathroom.


"Palla...I know how this looks and -"

"How much did you drink last night?" Palla laughed, coming to sit on the edge of the bed.  Since this sort of thing happened all the time aboard ships, there was no need for shame or discomfort.

"Well, then," Mayal blinked, "I guess this is how it looks."

"You must have been wasted," Palla snickered.  "I thought you didn't think of him that way.  What did you drink, anyway?  Begosian wine?  Risian rum?"

"Romulan ale."

Palla nodded.  "That'll do it."

"Didn't I see you sneak off with Gul Omaris?  He's married, you know."

"Separated," Palla corrected her.  "Wife dumped him after she found out he screwed a Bajoran during the Occupation.  She took the kids, half his money, and moved to Klaestron IV."

"Half his money -"

"He's still worth 6.2 mil," Palla yawned.  "And don't change the subject.  You got drunk and slept with Enoras?  How was it?"

"I believe you had news?" Mayal yawned, wincing at the agony it caused.

"Oh, yeah.  You know that Vorta liaison who works with Legate Danaian?  Malice...Molest...."

"Malest," Mayal corrected her impatiently.  "What about her?"

"She just donated 10,000 leks to each of the surviving families who had kids serving in our Order.  Can you believe it?"

That made Mayal finally sit straight up.  She didn't even flinch at the pain it caused to move.

"She did what?"

"You heard me," Palla nodded gleefully.  "And guess what?  Malest is petitioning Central Command to increase the salaries of all the soldiers from the Fifth to Eighth Orders by  four hundred leks a month."

"She's doing what?"  Even Enoras had emerged from the bathroom, soaking wet, draped in a towel, and looking very alarmed.  He locked eyes with Mayal as the implication of the news sank in.

Palla, in the meantime, was on cloud nine.  "You know, I was a bit skeptical about the Dominion, but I'm beginning to think the Obisidian Order was just threatened by them and wanted to maintain their control over the rest of us by making us feel threatened as well. But I don't feel threatened at all.  I think it's great having them around.  I'm thinking I can send extra money home, and next year, you and I can take a trip to Lissepia.  Isn't this the best news ever?"

No, Mayal wanted to tell her.  It's actually the worst.


The usually warm-toned apartments of Legate Oanna Danaian carried a somber mood today.  She had no candles lit and pale morning light poured through the gray curtains, dulling her sitting room.

Sitting across from Councilor Ayeen Treya she quietly asked, "When?"

"My father informs me Malest made a large deposit at 0500 hours this morning at our bank," Ayeen answered solemnly.  "It's like she did it deliberately.  Like she wanted me to know about it before anyone else."

There was a pause as the two women watched their tea cups cool.  Neither had the stomach for breakfast; Oanna hadn't even bathed yet and Ayeen looked as though she'd just come from a funeral.

"I can fight her salary petition," Oanna rasped lowly.  "I can convince the military council this is nothing but bald-faced bribery."

"Oh, come on," Ayeen told her softly.  "You know our politicians, Oanna.  They're no strangers to bribery; they won't be scandalized or insulted by Malest's actions.  Some of them are probably wondering what took her so long."

"I will not have that Vorta bitch buy her way into our world!" Oanna snapped.  "You go back to the Detapa Council and you tell them to bankrupt themselves if they have to!  Tell them to fill the coffers of every primary school and charity they can think of!  And if they cry broke, you tell them to call in the debts from all our allies!"

"Oanna," Ayeen replied morosely.  "You know we can't.  Council's accounts are strained as it is.  We owe Lissepia one billion bars of latinum, and we owe the Klaestrons eight hundred million.  Seven out of ten banks in the union report a twelve percent increase in defaulted loans, and our people are starving.  As a planet, we cannot economically compete with the Dominion, and you know our people are easily swayed by material things.  We're on borrowed time,Oanna."


T'Sanne turned away from Kinora's computer console, shutting off the conversation between Oanna and Ayeen.  Turning to a stricken Kinora, she announced in a leaden tone:

"We're too late.  It's already begun."

"No," Kinora hissed.  "No.  It can't be."

"Kinora, I warned you things were moving faster than you thought."

"We cannot be outwitted by that soulless viper, T'Sanne!" Kinora barked at her.  "I will not watch Cardassia fall to the Dominion simply because we're experiencing a debt crisis!  We must fix this!"

"You can't kill her," T'Sanne pointed out quickly.  "The Dominion will retaliate and that is a trouble you have not known.  We can't kill her because we can't even get to her."

"Then we have to outsource," Kinora snapped.  "We have to a find a third party who has absolutely no desire whatsoever to see the Dominion gain a foothold in our Quadrant.  We need to find someone who will get that thing off my homeworld at once."

T'Sanne paused, mulling it over for a moment.  "I think I might know just the person.  They'll require safe passage through Cardassian space."

"I can arrange it."

"And they'll probably want handsome compensation."


"And Kinora?  Whatever you do, you must absolutely, positively not give me any grief over my choice."

The Cardassian suddenly look perturbed.  "T'Sanne...?" she inquired hesitantly.  "Whom do you have in mind?"

Next ~ An Objective Third Party


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