The Third Order: “Silent Wrath” (Fifth in the Series)
By Hadrian McKeggan
Published April 10, 2001
“We have seized the main colonies on this Federation planet.” Gul Malec said over the com. Malec was covered entirely in blood, but judging from his expression and lack of wounds, Darek was sure it was not his own. Just behind Malec, the one serene Federation colony was aflame, and in the distance screams of anguish could be clearly heard. The raw emotions of anger and lust where clear in Malec’s face. He truly enjoyed combat. Darek gave Malec a cold glare to remind him of their first confrontation, to keep this ambitious general in check. “The victory is ahead of schedule.” He said scathingly. “Why?” The harshness of the question somewhat surprised Malec, but Malec quickly chided himself for thinking, once again, that Darek was like the last Third Order commander. “The garrison surrendered upon arrival.” Malec responded. “Do you know nothing about propaganda?” Darek snapped venomously, edging closer to the screen. Malec flinched slightly, remembering the day Darek pressed a knife to his neck. If Darek was there in person, he would no doubt do it again. Malec knew what Darek was referring to when he said “propaganda.” That if cities which surrender are treated with leniency, more cities will follow suit, but if no leniency is given, surrender is far less likely. “Sir, the troops were out of control —” Darek cut him off. “If you can’t control your own troops Gul, you are not worthy to be a Battalion commander.” Before Malec could respond, Darek said “Uptok Nor out,” and switched off the viewer. Darek knew that Malec was the best land force commander in the Third Order, so he was still unable to kill him. But he silently vowed do to so the moment this war was over. Darek changed his viewer to a tactical readout, and scanned through the latest reports for the third time that day. He never tired of it, and some glinns claimed he never even slept.
But he did sleep, as Ziral, the Obsidian Order attaché to the Third Order, knew well by now. She had been assigned the responsibility of killing Darek when he became commander of the Third Order. The Obsidian Order was, simply put, worried. Here was a man who had killed one of their best operatives in charge of an entire order and with an interrogator’s skill worthy of the highest members of the Obsidian Order. He was the worst internal threat they had faced in awhile. So Ziral had subverted the security cameras, monitoring Darek’s every move, learning his habitual patterns and looking for a time when he was weakest. When it came to everyday life, Darek was clockwork. He was marching through the decks at one point, as if looking for a criminal as his eyes would methodically search each face in a room. It was actually one of his favourite pass-times, as Ziral observed. Unfortunately for her, he was armed at all times, and a few incidents had showed excellent hearing, both of which would make it difficult to kill him. He was weakest, as with most people, when he was asleep. He was perhaps the only officer in the fleet to not have a comfort womon. The reason for this was purely paranoia, for a comfort woman would be in an easy position to kill him. He also slept in his uniform. He was never seen wearing any off-duty dress. He had none. As far as he was concerned, he was always on duty. Ziral had patiently monitored him sixteen hours a day for the past few weeks, building her sleep schedule at different intervals so she could observe the Gul at different times in the day. As she watched him now, scanning through his tactical scenarios yet again, she wondered why the Obsidian Order had chosen her to kill this man. It could be that she was already assigned here long before Darek arrived, a recent change would arouse his suspicions. The other possibility, which Ziral did not doubt, is that they were trying to get rid of her. She had helped the losing faction in a brief power struggle for command of the Obsidian Order. Ever since she had been out of favour with Tain. He was likely trying to have her killed off again by pitting her against impossible odds. As Ziral methodically watched Darek with a persistence which even he would be equalled by, Ziral prepared to prove that to kill Darek was not as impossible as it seemed.
Assured of his tactics, having one again implemented a seemingly infinite amount of redundancies and backups, Gul Darek took a leisurely stroll on the Promenade. His eyes darting to and fro, locking with one person after another, never seeming to focus on his destination, if any. A hurrying civilian bumped into him. He pierced her with a malevolent glare, and she whimpered slighty as grotesque visions of being interrogated passed through her mind. She began shivering, even though the Promenade’s temperature was a normal Cardassian level. At the moment she could take no more, Darek’s eyes snapped to someone else. After making a few more people uneasy, Darek entered into Ontak’s, to quench his thirst. Not long after the doors closed behind him, a sizeable portion of people began to filter out. Ontak cursed his bad luck once again, and rather than serve Darek personally as he had done the first time, he sent out one of his waiters. “C-can I take your uh, order sir?” The waiter asked, quivering. “Where is the owner of the establishment?” Darek snapped.
“Ah, uh, over there s-sir.” The waiter responded in fear.
“I will be swerved by him, and no one less.” He responded, biting his words indignantly for the bartender to have sent out one of his waiters instead of personally swerving him. Ontak, hearing this, stumbled over. The waiter, relived, departed.
“Uh, w-what can I do for you, sir?” Ontak asked, inwardly cursing Darek’s insistence.
“One glass of kanar, now.”
“Yes sir.” Ontak said, hurriedly stumbled off and got out one of the vintage 2347 bottles, Darek’s favorite. “Here you uh, are, sir.” He gibbered. Darek uncorked the bottle, but he was hit by an odd smell. He took a sip, and spat it out.
“What are you trying to serve me, Ontak? Poison?”
“S-sir?” Darek held the bottle to Ontak’s face.
“This bottle, barkeep, has a purely fatal form of poison in it.”
Ziral looked at the scene from the camera. She had been the one to poison the entire cabinet of vintage 2347, observing the fact that Darek alone drunk it. It was a seemingly flawless plan, only Darek died, he was unable to defend himself, and if anyone was blamed, it would be Ontak or one of the other waiters at Ontak’s. The poison was tasteless and without smell. What she didn’t know is that Darek had a poison detector installed in his sinuses and the back of his mouth. And all it had cost him were a lack of smell and taste. He drunk 2347 vintage only since it was valuable to his barkeep, and with a glare and icy authority like he had, he would not have to pay. But Ziral knew that if she was to kill Darek, she would have to defeat him in his own game. And so she had prepared backups of her own. She continued to monitor the Gul as he spat in outrage over the cowering Ontak. She could wait.
The Cardassian Officers dragged a bawling Ontak away. Darek watched with a grim satisfaction. The next freighter from Cardassia Prime was due in three weeks, and when it departed from Uptok Nor, Ontak would depart with it, to Cardassia Prime for the dreaded show trial. Ontak was to be killed. Already Ontak’s younger brother and inheritor was tearing down the sign “Ontak’s” and putting “Torol’s” in its place. Satisfied, Darek left. Once more he strolled down the Promenade, indulging in his only vice, terrifying anyone and everyone with his glare.
Despite this incident, the day turned out uneventful. He made many more tactical checks and updates, but there was absolutely no significant encounters. Legate Danor told him that his victories had caused the Federation to postpone their offensive in several other sectors, which pointed solely to a massive counter-attack on his claimed territories. So far, however, no action had been taken. If his hypothesis was correct, Captain Raymond of the Tecumseh was in command of this operation. Raymond was a sit-and-wait tactician, never taking too many risks, never achieving more than he absolutely had to. If anything, it had made him long-lived, he and his ship surviving where others perished. But it also made him an unremarkable adversary. Even the land offensives halted for the day, as Gul Malec was reconsidering his rate of advance. There had been no reports whatsoever on the Odyssey since its narrow escape at the battle for Deep Space Four. In fact, it seemed that the Federation considered the ship destroyed even though Uptok Nor’s sensors detected it departing intact. And there had been no reports yet from Legate Danor or the frontline update of any Federation Galaxy-class starship being destroyed. It was an odd situation, and Darek was perturbed at his inability to make the facts fit. His “best guess” is that some non-Cardassian vessel of Federation hostility incepted it and destroyed it, it was destroyed by space phenomena, or by the Obsidian Order. Nevertheless, it was an uneventful day by his standards. Though it was the proverbial quiet before the storm, it was quiet nevertheless. And Darek didn’t like the quiet.
His day shift was over. The door to his quarters slid open. Within was Spartan, even by Cardassian standards. An unrefined slab of metal constituted his bed. And there was a wardrobe, which held all his uniforms. A small screen for yet even more tactical analysis and com transmissions was the final thing in the room. The rest of it was bare, expect for a hidden security camera which was now controlled by Ziral. Darek lay down on the metal slab, and instantly fell asleep. For safety reasons, Ziral waited three hours, to make certain he was in a deep sleep. Then she departed her own quarters, still clothed in the plain civilian garb she always wore, but with a razor sharp knife within those folds. She traversed the station, bringing as little attention to herself as possible. Being a skilled member of the Obsidian Order, it wasn’t hard. At last, she came to his quarters. Darek never had a personal guard, knowing that they were easily corruptible. Indeed, his security systems when it came to his quarters where remarkably light. She used her synthesised sound of his voice to utter his combination code: “Authorisation Darek-Three-Seventeen-Glinn-Two-Nine-Elam-Two-Zero-Cardassia-Thousand-Four-Ninety-Legate-Twelve-Hundered-Gul-Five-Eight-Adversary-Complete.” Darek’s code was the longest on record. The door swished aside. Ziral stood just beyond the door and used her PADD to tap into her hidden camera to see if it had any effect on Darek. No, he was still slumbering nicely. She carefully and skillfully crept across the room, not making a sound. A near lifetime in the Obsidian Order had given her this skill. Still soundless, she unsheathed her dagger, and swung towards Darek. In a mere second, she collapsed onto the ground, gasping for life, Darek’s dagger driven firmly in her chest. A river of violet blood was unleashed from the wound. Darek may have been asleep, but he was a very light sleeper. He peered down on her, now fully upright. “About time.” Darek said to the dying Ziral, actually sounding impatient. “I had expected you to do this weeks ago. Do you really think I didn’t notice you monitor the security cameras? I’m insulted. I was hoping the Obsidian Order could do better than send me an amateur.” Darek said indignant. Ziral coughed up blood, throwing her last breaths in Darek’s face, and then died. Darek viewed her lifeless corpse for a second. Then he wiped away the blood splattered on his face and uniform, and contacted security to drag her corpse away and to clean up the mess. It had been an uneventful day, but the night had certainly made up for it.