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Variations on a Theme of Semil

Sorehl, captain of engineering, knelt alone in the dark confines of his cabin on Camelot Station. His legs were folded in the traditional Yhri repose, his fingers pressed in a double ta’al triangle. He cycled through his myriad thoughts, prioritizing and compartmentalizing them as part of his routine meditation.


He had rubbed the Vulcan sand between his hands in the san’kra ritual, symbolically cleansing him from worldly concerns, but thoughts of the past had crossed the threshold of his cabin nonetheless.


It had been two hours since meeting with Admiral Day. His commanding officer had explained the coming conference. The Dominion had selected Semil, the Vorta who had directed events along the Canar Sector during the war, as their continuing representative. Sorehl could not dispute their logic. Although he’d had his failures, Semil had waged a successful campaign which had seized key regions of Federation space. He’d used subterfuge to capture military targets and personally interrogated a number of important prisoners.


Sorehl let his thoughts dwell on that subject, delving back to his first experience with that particular Vorta, more than eight years ago…


"As a prisoner," Sorehl stated blankly, "I would be of little value to you."


When the Dominion claimed it had information regarding the missing USS Tianenmen, it had seemed logical to beam over to the Jem'Hadar ship and examine it alone, rather than risk other members of the crew. Sorehl now wondered about the certainty of that logic.


"You underestimate yourself, Commander," replied Semil. The Vorta tilted his head and eyed him with curiosity. "Fear not. You are no prisoner. But I assure you, I consider your visit of great value."


"Any efforts to obtain information from me will be unsuccessful," came the terse response.


"Ever dispassionate, confident in your celebrated Vulcan discipline," Semil smiled. He shook his head slowly. "I promise my interest is in learning more about your venerated race. You have so much in common with the Vorta."


Sorehl cocked an eyebrow.


"Intellectual achievements. Telepathic prowess. Superior physical endurance," Semil listed. "We are both stewards for our governments and serve with singular dedication."


"Vulcans are citizens," the executive officer noted, "not subjects."


Semil frowned. "Hmmm, no longer 'well-known as the intellectual puppets of this Federation'? Well, good for you." The Vorta smiled, having made his point. "I'm sure the Klingons don't think of you that way anymore. I, for one, find your culture fascinating. Would you indulge me in a game of kal-toh?" He paused, thinking. "Oh, I forgot, it's your wife who plays that. Perhaps three-dimensional chess?"


Sorehl looked at him evenly. "We seem to be playing games already."


Semil blinked, taken aback. "I must say I'm disappointed. Well, I won't trouble you further. We’re already coming up on the wreckage of the Tianenman."


"Wreckage?" the Vulcan repeated.


"We think it was destroyed by impact with a cloaked anti-matter mine," Semil reported, offering a eyepiece. Sorehl took the offered device, surveying the purported remains of the USS Tianenmen for several minutes. Without direct access to the sensors, however, it was difficult to verify the exact identity. "It could have been left behind by the Klingons," the Dominion agent continued. "In their haste to retreat, they left quite a few such mines. Or perhaps your ship was laying its own. I hear such devices are quite volatile."


"I'm sure I don't know," Sorehl stated flatly.


"You cannot confirm or deny such facts?" Semil parroted. "Not surprising." Nodding to a nearby Jem'Hadar, Semil signaled a course change. Sorehl felt a subtle change in the vibration of the deckplates as they went into warp.


"And your reasons for showing this to me?" the Vulcan asked.


The Vorta tilted his head reassuringly. "Why, to assuage fear that we may have been involved."


The Vulcan folded his arms. "I have seen nothing to allay the suspicion you refer to, real or imagined. Tianenmen is not the first ship reported lost along this border since your annexing of Cardassia."


"I had no idea," the Dominion agent expressed in shock. "What a tragedy. It is a dangerous area of space."


"Yes," Sorehl answered dismissively.


“Then perhaps my next news will be of some relief,” the Vorta straightened. "You see, your station was allowed by the Cardassians to serve a purpose for which it is no longer needed. Thanks to Dominion strength, the De-Militarized Zone no longer exists. The Maquis no longer exist. Therefore, we formally invite you to withdraw."


Sorehl tugged on his tunic. "Your invitation is duly noted."


Semil's smile faded, his tone taking on a certain edge. "Ignore the warning if you choose, Commander, but the Dominion intends to secure all Cardassian-claimed territory," he cautioned. "Notice has been given. It would be another tragedy if we were compelled to make you leave the Canar system."


"Since it does not recognize the legitimacy of the Dukat regime," Sorehl objected, his own voice level, "StarFleet is unlikely to allow a Federation-built facility to fall into his hands. We will not abandon Aegis."


"For all the Founders care, you can blow your station up. Just get the people out."


"The request is entirely illogical," the Vulcan insisted. "There are colonists..."


"Who are welcome to remain if they wish to be subjects of the Dominion," Semil interrupted. "Extend them our invitation, if you'd like." A console beeped. "Ah, we are coming up on your station now. I sincerely hope you enjoyed your trip..."


Sorehl opened his eyes.


It had been the first in a series of distasteful encounters. Later came violence, outright persecution, and the deaths of several under his charge. Granted, it had been war. The Semil that walked these corridors was a new one; Sorehl knew well that the previous incarnation had died on the sands of Ovetra II. He was only a copy that carried the memories and experiences of his predecessor, not accountability for his actions. Still, despite the logic of their choice, Sorehl wondered if the Dominion fully appreciated the weight of that baggage.


He would not add to it during this delicate balance. Semil was a force to be reckoned with, especially if his beloved Founders were in danger.


Sorehl leaned forward, unfolding his legs as he steadied himself. As he stood, he whisked his robe away with an arcane flourish. His hand found the engineer’s vest slung carefully over one chair. Slipping into it, he stepped through the door of his cabin as it slid open.


Although still incomplete, an Alexandria-class starbase such as this offered 88 decks for a chief engineer to inspect. So long as duty permitted, he intended to put several of them between himself and this latest variation of Semil.

Edited by Sorehl

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Refrains of Semil: Part II


A second Alpha Quadrant encounter with the Vorta

August 8, 2373 [One month before the outbreak of the Dominion War]


Shoved by the Jem'Hadar guard, Commander Sorehl slammed down, tasting the dirt of Canar II. Weapons fire erupted within the ravine. He lifted his head and squinted through the cloud of dust, catching a glimpse of a familiar Klingon fleet captain rushing headlong down the hill. Former-Governor K'Vorlag was firing wildly, with Lieutenant Muldoon mere paces behind, laying down precision shots with a sidearm in each hand. A hail of rock shards fell around Sorehl as disruptor bolts tore up the terrain.


Two Jem'Hadar advanced, blocking the Vulcan's line of sight. He brought his arms to lift himself up, but felt a heavy hand on his shoulder, holding him still. Suddenly the Vorta's voice was inches from his ear. "I'm disappointed we were unable to complete the tour," Semil lamented, "but I understand your station has finally lumbered out of orbit, so my work here is done."


Sorehl spoke into the dirt, unresisting. "It was our intention to withdraw without incident," he countered.


"So you say," Semil agreed, "but eviction is often hastened by a little forcible incentive."


Sorehl felt hot air rush past his face as the nearest soldier vaporized. Taking his cue, he jerked his shoulder out from under Semil and rolled to his feet. The Vulcan shoved another soldier aside and darted over the sandstone without looking back. K'Vorlag and Muldoon had reached the bottom of the ravine just ahead.


"Leaving so soon?" came the Vorta's shout. Behind him, Sorehl could sense a building psionic pressure. He narrowed his eyes and focused his discipline, steeling himself for its release.


A spherical blast sailed past him, hitting the Klingon. K'Vorlag flew back, bouncing off the rock wall. He fell to his knees, shaking his head. "Telekinetic baQa'," he muttered in two languages, getting to his feet. Muldoon stepped up, firing in the direction of the attack.


Sorehl leapt over the intervening rock, landing beside them and crouching for cover. "Time to leave," he declared. Prophetically, the familiar transporter shimmer enveloped them, whisking them away from the Dominion agents.

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Since we're adding details about our least favorite Vorta, here's an addition from the 02/27/05 sim and a flashback to a log Semil and I did together in earlier days.


K'Vorlag revelled in the report from his QeDpIn. While Excalibur fought off its intruders, his science officer had managed to use jey’naS sensors to isolate and target eleven more EVA-suited Jem'Hadar floating among the battleship debris. Eleven same targets had been systematically vaporized by the cruiser's disruptors. There would be no more surprise attacks.


But the last object had been different. A drifting Dominion lifepod, with a Vorta body inside. The pod was too well shielded to determine if it's occupant was alive, but if so, it would be a fitting capture for the crippled Klingon ship. K'Vorlag had ordered it tractored aboard at once.


"Keep scanning," he ordered, turning swiftly to view his prize in the cargo hold. "Eliminate any other Jem'Hadar threats. We don't need three crippled ships, even if the Romulans feel left out."


Passing through the heavy aft doors, K'Vorlag considered the opportunity to deal face to face with another Vorta. His past experiences had been less than pleasant, if no less challenging...


* * * * *


[Eight years earlier, in a security cell on Starbase Aegis]


The faint blue sparkle of the brig forcefield outlined the Vorta figure as he stepped effortlessly through the screen into the unsecured space of the chamber. The Dominion agent was obviously demonstrating that Aegis security had no real means to hold him.


A smile played upon Semil's face as he reached a hand out towards the Klingon in the room. Their handshake was an obvious dichotomy of tactile contact, K'Vorlag's roughish skin meeting the delicate, slender fingers of the Vorta. With observation skills borne of his years as an Eye of the Empire, K'Vorlag subconsciously noted the smoothness and paleness of the Dominion bureaucrat's skin.


"Governor! I really must say I have been looking forward to meeting you." Semil's calmly smooth, rich voice belied the obvious confrontational subtext to their encounter; the displaced Klingon being so cordially greeted by the very person who’d usurped him. “Though you’re no longer governing it,” Semil noted, turning the figurative blade, “I’d be interested to know your experiences in this region of space.”


K'Vorlag took less than kindly to the obvious obsequiousness of the affront. "The pleasure is yours," the Klingon barked begrudgingly. He broke the contact between their hands brusquely. "nuqneh? <What is it you want?>" K'Vorlag narrowed his eyes in blatant suspicion of the Vorta.


Semil's icy blue gaze kept steady and unwavering in response, "I'll get right to it; I know how you Klingons have such disdain for the pleasantries which happen to be my forte. I have something to offer you that you might be interested in; a parting gift of sorts."


With a gruff barking laugh and a nod of the chin, K'Vorlag communicated his unwillingness to do business. "You have nothing I want." He turned to withdraw from the Aegis brig without further comment.


The thin curve of Semil's lips curled into the half-smile that seemed to be his only other facial expression, communicating only that he possessed knowledge of a depth no one would ever be allowed into. "It would be that much easier for you to say no then, wouldn't it? What if I were to tell you that from our recent... encounters... we seem to have a number of Klingon prisoners of value to you. General G'k'tak, Governor Mek'vort... Council Member Karge." Semil slurred the pronunciations in such exacting precision as to be condescending.


Another grunting guffaw heaved from K'Vorlag's chest. "Your gelatin taskmasters don't educate their lapdog's very well if you think any Klingon would want to be returned rather than..."


Semil somehow cut off the Klingon with a voice so hypnotically sedate as to be impossibly commanding. "...die in battle; yes, I read that paragraph in your Alpha Quadrant encyclopedia of cultural idiosyncracies, but you and I both know that these three men alone are well worth a little dent to your imperial honor." Semil leaned in closer as if to whisper. "I could also offer you plenty of other prizes for your troubles. Think how much intelligence could be gleaned from Admiral G'Vek, Senator Norolus of Romulus; from Tholian Minister Garmon, from..."


"Enough!" K'Vorlag's command sent Semil pulling backwards, albeit slowly and calmly. "And what pound of flesh do you intend to exact for these gifts?"


Another smirking half-grin serenely played across the Vorta's face. "What if I were to make you the undisputed ruler of the Beta Quadrant?" Semil noted an extremely subtle uncomfortable shifting in the posture of the usually stoic Klingon. "Of course, only up to the Federation border... I've already promised that to Admiral..."


"What price?" K'Vorlag ennunciated harshly, his breath hot and tempered, tactile against Semil's chin.


The Vorta readjusted his stance to more assess the Klingon, smiling in faux reassurance. "Only that you convince the good captain TSara to vacate Aegis; unconditionally, completely, immediately."


It was K'Vorlag's turn to let a smug look suggest a greater depth of knowledge. His words were deliberate. "I may have my charms, but I doubt our dear SuvwI' be'a' could be convinced..."


Semil turned away from the Klingon mid-sentence, stepping gingerly back through the blue sparkle of the containment field and into his holding cell. "I didn't intend for you to blabber on about the difficulties of it. I've communicated to you my offer." He turned swiftly to face the Klingon. "It's now up to you to communicate back to me whether or not you intend to seize the opportunity."


K'Vorlag took notice of the subtle retreat. He strode up to the invisible containment field so boldly, for a moment Semil thought the Klingon was actually going to follow him through. But the Governor stopped, his ridged nose only inches away from the field between them. "And if I refuse; you'll threaten me with your precious Dominion toys?"


Semil stepped up towards the force field, his piercing gaze unwavering from the eye contact duel between the two. "I think you know precisely what I can threaten you with; you, your family -- your species." Semil whispered the word with a resonant echo practised with dozens of equal threats delivered. The Vorta stepped backward languidly and glided to a seat in the cell. "We really must trade genocide stories someday soon; perhaps over a raktajino on the Promenade."


K'Vorlag stood unwavering. "Perhaps." With legions of enslaved warriors to fight his battles, the Vorta was indeed arrogant. Without them, the tune would be much different. "But I doubt you truly have the stomach for either." With that, he strode out of the brig.


* * * * *


He clambered down the final gangway into the cargo hold. The Dominion pod lay askew on the damp-looking decking. Inside was a potential target that could at last reveal something useful about the Hundred, not some slippery pile of goo that could resist interrogation. K'Vorlag smiled. Such was no work for a mindless warrior; this was the forte of an Intelligence officer. As one of the Eyes of the Empire, it would fall to him. It was fortunate they'd located this prize first....

Edited by KVorlag

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Refrains of Semil: Part III


February 2, 2374 [Five months into the Dominion War]

Captured by the Dominion while on a diplomatic mission, Captain Sorehl is unknowingly placed into an elaborate mental illusion by the Vorta Semil.


"Apology accepted, Captain," Weyoun assured, with open arms. "We're just as eager as you are to put this sordid episode behind us."


Sorehl had not expected to see hundreds of Jem'Hadar soldiers present. Nor had he expected to see the large number of Dominion warships in orbit. Intelligence had speculated that the scarcity of ketresel white had forced the enemy to place most of their genetically-engineered soldiers into stasis. It was hard to believe wary Cardassians would allow a foreign army to occupy their home, particularly when control of them was fleeting. Unless they had acquired additional stockpiles of the chemical, Sorehl speculated.


"Our interest is to end these hostilities," Weyoun went on. "Previous efforts have sadly, fallen short."


Sorehl recalled a classified briefing which had described the machinations the Dominion had gone through to gain the Kabrel system. They had been willing to endure lengthy negotiations and make seemingly huge concessions to secure it. Despite these observations, he remained silent. He had delivered his message already. Instead, he focused his thoughts on the difficult task of ignoring the presence of another mind, somewhere close.


Weyoun looked down. "I admit the problem may be personal. Captain Sisko has been most unwilling to accept compromise. My subordinates tell me that yours, by contrast, is a species of discipline. Certainly a man of Vulcan background can appreciate the order we seek."


Each sentence increased in tension, the mild echo of taunting laughter. Against his will, Sorehl felt the muscles of his jaw tighten. "If… my behavioral patterns were also genetically predetermined... like your own,” he began, an edge creeping into his tone, “perhaps I would." He felt a mild spasm under his right eye. "There is, however, little logic in compromise with a regime lead by… xenophobic zeal and misguided racial supremacy." He grit his teeth, fighting the building rage, the deafening taunts...


* * * * *


"What is it?" the Cardassian asked, squinting at the subject strapped to the vertical slab.


"I’m compensating." Semil adjusted the instrumented probe leading to the Vulcan's head. The neurosensory feed from his mesofrontal cortex was drifting again. There was no point in putting Captain Sorehl through this ruse if they couldn't read his responses. The Vorta calibrated the feed to a new setting. "That's twice now."


"But he is completely unaware of the illusion," Madred observed, his voice betraying some admiration.


"Other trials have been very effective," Semil assured. "The Dominion is all too happy to share this alternative for extracting information." Madred seemed to frown at the statement.


The analyst Borath had given the Vorta community a full report on his success with the crew of the Defiant several years earlier. His work had provided the Founders with the insight to strengthen the Bajoran wormhole from collapse. With it, they had gained their current foothold on the Alpha Quadrant.


A grin worked its way across Semil's pale features. He wondered what insights would be learned from this subject.

Edited by Sorehl

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Refrains of Semil: Part IV


February 18, 2374 [Five months into the Dominion War]

Within the confines of an illusory reality created by Semil, Sorehl is forced to watch the imagined destruction of StarBase Aegis.


The destruction of StarBase Aegis had been swift and complete.


Despite the heightened alertness prompted by the war, the attack itself came with unexpected finality.


Scores of Jem'Hadar warships surged into the Decelea asteroid field, too many to number. The starbase responded, blasting one after another into debris. But they had not relented. Overwhelmed, the station's mighty shields, once rated the finest in StarFleet, failed. Unbowed, Ramson had taken lead of the fighter wing, sacrificing it and himself to defend those ordered to abandon Aegis.


As boarding commenced, the battle grew more personal, more ferocious. Sorehl remembered those last moments in the Command Center, fire raging around them. Muldoon and Varon had died there, holding back the Jem'Hadar soldiers. It had given them precious moments to engage the autodestruct, to prevent Aegis from falling into enemy hands. Wounded himself, Commander Sej had bled out his life at the Admin console giving the final codes. Sorehl had thought to die there, as well, invoking the captain's privilege.


But it was not to be.


The transporter effect asserted itself, and he found himself lifted to his feet by Lieutenant Renckly aboard the Perseus. Fleeing, Aegis erupted behind them, blossoming outward, sweeping the asteroid field clear in its wake. Blair later told him it had been a gut-wrenching sight, like watching someone's heart break.


Oddly enough, Sorehl understood the meaning.


* * * * *


Gul Madred could see the drama unfold only as a series of sensory feedbacks and synaptic patterns. The Vulcan stood against the slab, not moving. Occasionally, the captain would speak aloud to a member of his illusory crew, only hinting at the events he witnessed.


The Cardassian looked to Semil, who manipulated the neurotransmitter controls. "His thoughts aren't nearly as orderly as I might have expected," he observed.


The Vorta contained his irritation. The calibration of the connection to the mesofrontal cortex continued to elude him, but he would never admit this to the Cardassian. "Yes," he answered with measure, "our captain is full of surprises."


"I should very much like to employ my own methods on him; demonstrate just how effective they can be," Madred offered.


"I intend to give you that chance, I promise you," Semil assured. "But first, we must take everything from him. Break his foundation, mock his existence, erode his strength. You've seen what wonders it has done for our other friend?" He tilted his head toward the cell occupied by former-Governor K’Vorlag.


"Yes," Madred agreed. "The Klingon was quite willing to tell us how to defeat their cloaked transports." The Cardassian eyed Semil. "You believe you can do the same to the Vulcan? I should very much like to see that."


The Vorta returned to his work. It was time to strip away the arrogance of his subject's vaunted discipline.

Edited by Sorehl

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Here's one of my own from that time period.


Refrains of Semil: Part V

03.01.2374 [Alpha Quadrant War: Month Six of Hostilities]


There was no night at the Dominion installation. Diurnal biorhythms were a superfluous manifestation of humanoid life that was wholly inappropriate for the near genetic perfection of the Jem'Hadar and the Vorta. However, the Cardassians being flawed solids, instilled a certain sense of quiet about the base as many of them slept.


His compatriot Gul Madred, having long disappeared to retire for the night, Semil paced the stark room with slow, deliberate steps. Members of hundreds of other races had noticed his particular ability to keep his eyes transfixed, focused on a single subject for hours at a time. Semil had never taken the time, nor spent the vanity realizing the cold pierce of his icy blue eyes.


He watched the chest of the subject on his table rise and fall rhythmically, the gold and silver comm badge tilting up and to the side before coming back down. He thought how easy, and how simple, how elegantly efficient it would be to simply reach across and throttle the neck stretched out before him. It would be more appropriate to simply key in the commands to the neuroinputs to inhibit the geniculate nuclei in the myelencephalon that kept Sorehl breathing.


However, Semil wondered what it would feel like, to feel the skin, the cartilagenous ridges of the trachea beneath his hands. He wondered how it would feel to press down, what kind of strength it would take to collapse the Vulcan's windpipe. He imagined Sorehl's face slowly bluing to the lack of oxygen, his mouth reflexively gasping for air.


Without realizing it, Semil was experiencing malice for the first time. Genetic enhancements among the Vorta precluded such a visceral response. For all his conniving, all his subterfuge and manipulation, it was always a job, a way of life for Semil. He had never hated those he crushed, not even for their inability to recognize the supremacy of the Founders.


He had always been the parent guardian, guiding these poor mistaken unfortunates towards the path they were meant for, the will of the Founders. He was wholly unfamiliar with any actually dislike of them, distrust, yes. But dislike, he had always trusted that their misguided ways would simply fall away as they came to accept the Founders, either in subservience or in death.


He looked down at Sorehl and wondered just what it was about this one, this single flawed humanoid that made him feel so. Semil had admitted a grudging kinship with the Vulcans; he recognized in them a parallel in the role they played in the childlike innocent naiveté of the Federation.


What Semil could not know was that both he and the Vulcan had both been changed by their shared first contact with the Ovetra culture. He could not know that the simple ritual tattoo had introduced contaminants into their respective bloodstreams – subtle, undetected toxins that would compel their emotions, driving one of them toward madness and preserving the other from it.


Semil bent down, bringing his face within centimeters of the Vulcan. He glared into Sorehl's shut eyelids, watching intently the jittering dance beneath them, knowing exactly where the Captain would be in the illusory reality he was experiencing.


A blind man experiencing red for the first time, Semil wondered if the captain was likewise feeling such emotions. He wondered if perhaps Sorehl, if their positions were reversed, would envision Semil's throat crushed beneath Vulcan hands.

Edited by Semil

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Refrains of Semil: Part VI


March 15, 2374 [six months into the Dominion War]

An illusion created inside the mind of Captain Sorehl, somewhere within Dominion territory.




The raw emotion surged forward, spilling through the porous cage of his carefully constructed logic. Though he knew his discipline was slipping, Sorehl clung to the belief that no Vulcan could face the trauma of recent weeks and turn away, unfeeling.


He had felt it first after the destruction of Andor.


Failing to extort an unconditional surrender from the Federation, the Dominion had obliterated the planet, making it a graveyard for billions of unsuspecting citizens.


As they had done to Vulcan. The despair had been deeper, knowing that the center of his civilization was gone - the Gol'shiVar Arcology, where he was born; the T'Karath Sanctuary, where Surak had been slain; the Hall of Ancient Thought - all gone. His culture and his heritage had been left a wasteland. Logic had sustained him, arguing that he not mourn for intangible things. His wife and daughter had been spared, able to flee the destruction on one of many evacuating transports.


Only to perish at Earth.


Even the newest races of the united worlds had felt the weight of that blow. The Dominion had prosecuted their campaign with merciless logic. The fall of three founding members of the Federation, had been calculated to inspire the very despair he felt now. He had mourned openly upon hearing the news, the deaths both personal and the tens of billions unknown. Each bitter tear only emphasized how the order of his mind was slipping away.


The counselor had submitted her diagnosis that the captain suffered from the early stages of Bendii Syndrome. Though the affliction was generally confined to Vulcans of much greater age, Sorehl’s condition seemed to confirm a prevailing theory that extended contact with emotional species accelerated the disease. He would have been a good test case, he reasoned, had there been a Vulcan Science Academy left to study him.


He slid back into the center chair of the starship Valiant. The few survivors of recent fleet battles had gathered on the battered little ship, under the leadership of Admiral a'Vrok. The Andorian flag officer had promised a response to the Dominion.


And they were on their way to deliver it...


* * * * *


A Dominion installation on the innermost planet of the Canar system.


The Vorta had not left the side of his subject for days. He had slowly twisted the illusory dagger he had driven into the Vulcan's mind.


But the Vulcan had not been shattered.


The implosion had been eminent. His malice aflame, Semil had seen the anguish. He had even watched the tears stream down the impassive face. Tears from a Vulcan! But the ultimate break, heralded by such cracks, had not come. After each new loss, Sorehl had regained some measure of composure. His mind was strained, but he had not collapsed.


Semil adjusted the mesocortical lead again. Curse these drifting calibrations, he thought with uncharacteristic anger. He was startled to look up and see his First had entered the cell.


"The Klingon wishes to speak with you," the Jem'Hadar spoke tersely.


"I left orders not to be interrupted," Semil replied. "K'Vorlag is mine to summon, not the other way around. I don't care how anxious he is to spill his secrets. He answers my bidding. Leave."


"Glory to the Founders," the soldier replied, backing out.


Semil absentmindedly rubbed an irritated spot on his back, where the Ovetra had marked him. He turned to his work, a task which had little, if anything, to do with the Founders at all.

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See Semil's additional log under The Delicious Taste of Irony.

Edited by Sorehl

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Refrains of Semil: Part VII


March 18, 2374 [six months into the Dominion War]

An illusion inside the Vulcan mind...


The flat composite key felt deathly cold between his fingers. It was a crude security device, strangely appropriate for the abhorrent force it would loose. Captain Sorehl looked across the cramped bridge of the starship Valiant. The Andorian admiral held the other key firmly in the tactical console.


"Computer, this is Admiral Thelev a'Trok," the flag officer spoke aloud, "invoking application of General Order 24, subparagraph four, strategic option. The use of special ordinance has been authorized for this action."


The Vulcan listened to the Admiral’s dialogue; in the finest tradition of Sorehl’s own late race, there was no emotion or urgency behind it. In position behind enemy lines, they had not been detected. Freed from the renounced Treaty of Algeron, the phase-cloak installed aboard this Defiant-class vessel had let them quietly slip past the sentries. From here, with the destructive payload they carried, they could lay waste to a dozen targets.


"Authorization requires the sanction of a second officer of command rank," the computer intoned.


a'Trok looked across the bridge at the Vulcan. Sorehl opened his mouth.


"Before the captain responds," the admiral began, looking at the worn, intense faces around him, "I want to state formally, for whatever record remains, that we understand the grave consequences of what we undertake. We abhor the necessity." He paused, letting silence consume the room. "But whatever qualm we face - no race, no power can be allowed to delight in the spoils of genocide. We have been entrusted to deliver a harsh message to those who would ally themselves with such holocaust: we will not be exterminated alone. The Cardassians have shared glory in their allegiance to the Dominion. So must they be joint heirs of its horrors. Perhaps," he paused to keep his voice from faltering, "when they feel the wounds we inflict, they will pause in their slaughter. We may yet preserve those that remain."


Sorehl ached for the discipline to sweep aside the discord. Fierce resolve clashed with naked horror. "This is Captain Sorehl," he managed. "I confirm the invocation of General Order 24... and hereby sanction the special provision of subparagraph four." He nodded to the admiral, and they turned both keys. Alert displays changed across the bridge as deployment began.


Despite his blinking, a drop slid its way down his face. Even the shame at such an outward display could not overcome the torture of his ideals. "I am become death, destroyer of worlds," he spoke quietly, and soon the console was slick with the tears he shed...


* * * * *


The Dominion internment center on Canar I


Semil pounded his fists against the console without restraint. The Vorta turned toward his subject, advancing toward him and reaching up to touch the face. He pulled his hand away, staring at it. With a frustrated fling, he cast the tear off his fingers. He looked at the exposed neck, so vulnerable to a tightened grasp. The Vulcan could not exist without tormenting him. He had not been broken!


Instead of making him brittle, ready to collapse, each new rift seemed to vent the pressure, easing it. Captain Sorehl had, in fact, actually shown signs of exerting his will within the illusion! Semil had watched the emerging brain pattern, synapses slowly diverted from the mesiofrontal cortex. In the flowchart of their brains, Vulcans had developed that region, an extra evaluative step over their instincts and emotion. And Sorehl had grown less dependent on it. He was fighting for self-determination in an illusory world of predestination.


Indeed, from it, the Vorta had learned even more secrets from his captive. The captain seemed to believe the Federation would resist even in defeat. Not only did they possess weapons of mass destruction, but they would use them! Had he been interested in gathering intelligence, Semil would have quickly passed this to his superior. He left it for later, such was his distraction.


He grit his teeth and reached up again. With a firm pull, he yanked the neurocortical probes from Sorehl's head. The Vulcan jerked and spasmed violently before slumping against the restraint. Semil touched the signal that would summon Gul Madred to the cell. It was time to let the Cardassian interrogator expose the captain to a dose of reality, he mused with frustration. He fixed his icy blue stare on the subject and waited for the Gul to bring his own skills to bear.

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Refrains of Semil: Part VIII


March 31, 2374 [six months into the Dominion War]

The Federation-Klingon attack on Canar prompts the Vorta operative Semil to relocate his prisoner from the innermost planet.


Not again, Madred thought.


"I'm not finished with him yet," he insisted. The Gul pounded a fist on the solid tabletop, nearly spilling his leftover breakfast. "You promised me more time to prove my techniques work." Why did they always rob him of his best subjects near the moment of triumph? Hadn’t they done this exact thing to him with the captain of the Enterpise?


Irritated, the Vorta didn't look at the Cardassian. "And despite two weeks, you haven't broken the good captain," Semil spoke disdainfully. His eyes didn't leave the Vulcan, who lay naked and shivering, slumped against one wall.


"Are you afraid I'll succeed where you failed?" Madred challenged.


The remark earned him a look of contempt. "It's no longer safe to keep him here," Semil snapped. He looked past the Jem'Hadar guards and directed one of the other prisoners toward Sorehl. "Get him up. And put some clothes on him." A Klingon staggered in to comply.


"What do you mean?" Madred insisted.


"Even you must have heard the alert," Semil replied. Though there had been no shots fired at this installation, secreted away on the smaller inner planet, the sound of battle should have been evident.


Madred looked confused. "I was told the Federation ships were driven back."


"We pushed them too far," the Vorta reported, not believing his own voice. "One of the Klingon ships planted a device in the sun. Our scans show the outer shell will go nova within hours." Semil had gone over stolen records of the days when Aegis orbited Canar II. Two years ago, a scientist had tampered with the star, nearly destroying the system. Somehow, the Federation had learned to duplicate the effect. Unable to recapture the system, they were determined to wipe the Dominion from it.


But he would not let his prize go with it. “Get him to the ship,” he ordered.


* * * * *


With the diminished capacity of his senses, Sorehl was only vaguely aware of voices near him. Even then, he had learned scorn for those same senses, the ones that had been used to betray reality.


Something was flung over him, draped over his bare torso. Strong hands lifted him, bringing pain to his weakened limbs. Still, he managed to stand.


"Let me help," rasped a whispery voice. The hands braced his shoulder, urging him to walk. Through the faint brush of touch telepath, he could sense an emptiness, the extinguished rage of a beaten soul. And yet, there was something familiar. Sorehl raised his head and squinted. At once, he recognized the haggard features of his former nemesis, Klingon governor K'Vorlag, now a mere prisoner like himself.


"Get him to the ship," he heard another voice order. It sounded like the Vorta. Sorehl had heard the taunting sounds of the Vorta for so long, he could no longer be certain it was real.


He staggered on, feeling the despair fall once again.

Edited by Sorehl

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On Holodeck One, Camelot Station.


Semil affixed the neurocortical leads to his temple, knowing full well how completely he would be drawn into the illusion that had been created by Sorehl. The Vulcan had been the subject of such illusions himself, no doubt using that experience to carefully extract intelligence from the prisoner Armante about the Hundred.


But it would not do to be fooled by such data. Semil had made that mistake before. Indeed, it had ultimately cost him one of his lives. Even now, as he prepared to surrender his senses and enter the simulation, he remembered the humiliation he'd suffered for trusting such interrogations too completely...


04.01.2374 [Alpha Quadrant War: Month Seven of Hostilities]

"Cruisers 011-38 and 014-55 have powered up and are underway," the Jem'Hadar First reported without looking up. "Fighter wings 81/12 through 85/09 are in formation." Loyal and true to the Founders, he knew his place on the bridge of the Dominion flagship.


Semil stood motionless at the center of the bridge, his arms folded across his chest, his left eye glowing in the reddish light of the headset eyepiece. "Move the fleet to flank speed. Enter warp once we've cleared the system."


The Jem'Hadar Second responded quickly to the beeping on his console. "There is an incoming communication from Cardassia Prime. Signal identifier has been verified; it is Weyoun."


"Open." Semil pivoted about to face the wall display behind him as the status report in Dominionese clicked off to reveal a similarly pale face on the channel. "Report."


Semil flipped up his eyepiece. "The Starfleet invasion force has been successfully repelled. However, the Klingons placed a device in the sun of this star system; it threatens to go nova shortly. I am withdrawing to Position 081-03."


"And the status of our operations on Canar II?"


"All Dominion personnel have been evacuated to their ships. Assuming the nova doesn't obliterate the system, I am leaving behind several wings to monitor the event and resecure the system."


"I needn't tell you how disappointed I am; the mineral deposits on Canar II..."


Semil stood resolutely. "I'm aware of their value, Weyoun. As I recall, I did issue that report on the potential use of weapons of mass destruction by the Federation..."


"...which I read and duly noted. Keep us apprised of your progress. Contact me once you've reached Position 081-03." The channel closed with as much perfunctory efficiency as it opened.


Semil turned and strode towards the door leading off the bridge. "Alert me once we've entered warp." The corridor was particularly abuzz as the fleet hastened from Canar. Despite the activity, a clear path opened down each path that Semil turned - the Jem'Hadar stepped aside swiftly as they strode along on their own forceful ways.


He walked past a door. Only briefly did he consider stepping through to again assess the figure inside, encircled by a force field, seated with his head slumped to one side in disgraceful weakness.


Instead, the Vorta continued on to the guest quarters, stepping inside to enjoy the quiet and solace. He stepped over to the largish window and stared out, watching the Canar sun retreat in the distance. As he watched it recede, he contemplated just how simplistically binary the Federation's concept of "victory" and "defeat" were.

Edited by Semil

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04.02.2374 [Alpha Quadrant War: Month Seven of Hostilities]

Having fled the Canar system due to a Federation ruse and attack led by Captain Thomas Halloway, Semil reports his failure to Dominion leadership.


The stark metal grey of the room was lit solely by the synthetic glint of the single lit screen. Two Vorta, light years apart but seemingly separated only by the layers of polymer composite and optical diode, spoke brusquely in the Dominionese tongue they had known for as long as their progenitors could remember.


"...both know there was no way to confirm the nova was a Federation ruse without jeopardizing our regional fleet," Semil responded. He sat opposite the viewer, his left leg casually crossed over the other.


Onscreen, Weyoun's visage remained stern and serious. "Unfortunately, the Founder does not share your nonchalance. Losing the Canar system is a significant setback in our plans. While we are on the subject, the ambush we faced in the Moriya system..."


Semil interrupted, "Yes, I have read the report."


"We acted on information you provided us. I am having difficulty explaining to the Founder how easily you have been misinformed." Weyoun cocked his head to the other side. "I needn’t remind you..."


"No, you needn't," Semil shot back. "I am well aware of the stakes, Weyoun. Perhaps instead of this constant badgering, you may consider allowing me to do what I must."


Weyoun clenched his eyes in a squint. "This isn't you, Semil. I don't understand it, but something about this quadrant has changed you... you’re different. I remember being able to depend on you, on your loyalties."


"That hasn't changed." Semil's mouth pursed in subtle defiance. The two Vorta assessed each other, instinct and habit borne of the genetically engineered mistrust rooted deep inside of each.


"Very well. What are your plans?"


"My source; I am certain there are mitigating circumstances surrounding his disinformation. I am bringing our remaining ships to conduct a full investigation of those circumstances. I believe only our interpretations to be flawed, not the conclusions."


"You don't see flaw with your methods of interrogation?"


"I've rechecked the protocols, everything is in order. I suspect there may be one variable that was... unaccounted for in my initial projections." The slur in Semil's speech rasped across the light years. He felt that irritating twinge on his back again.


"You didn't have this much trouble with the Klingon."


"The governer was a far less complicated mind. It took far less time to break him. He served his use." They hadn’t even bothered to evacuate him with the other prisoners, assuming he would perish in the expected nova.


"Yes, the Klingons are nothing if not predictable." Weyoun sighed. "Very well. I will report your findings, and expect a complete update as soon as you reach your destination." Weyoun leaned into the viewscreen. "Be careful, Semil. I would hate to see you throw all this away."


Semil bowed his head slowly, respectfully. "End transmission." The screen clicked off, leaving the Vorta in darkness; sheer, comforting, welcoming darkness.

Edited by Semil

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April 2, 2374: Having liberated a Dominion internment camp, a StarFleet officer finds a known face among Semil's former prisoners.


The corridor was starkly lit outside the cell door she had opened. Lieutenant Commander L’Hona Amnor looked at the figure before her. She had confirmed his identity; he was indeed HoD'a' K'Vorlag, a former Klingon territorial governor, missing since the initial attack on Torros II. His appearance confirmed more about his imprisonment, than he was likely to tell her.


Amnor looked him over, trying to assess him with her own knowledge of Klingon psychology. Shame. Beyond merely the imprisonment itself, which brought dishonor. Somehow, she reasoned, he had betrayed them. She knew that. She knew that look.


"I must help secure this base," she informed him. "Come with me."


The Klingon did not look up. "You have no need of me."


"Then, what can I do for you before I go?"


"I am bound for Gre'thor," he spat. "You are not one to offer Mauk-to'Vor; you can do nothing."


Amnor frowned. If he thought his own dishonor great enough to consider ritual suicide, then maybe there was little she could do for him.


Dr. Cara Sabin arrived, pushing past Amnor to enter the cell and move to the Klingon. The patient sat, unspeaking. "How are you feeling?" she asked him.


"It is of no consequence."


“I want to get him back to Aegis."


"IyjiS?" the Klingon asked, suddenly looking up. The doctor nodded. A spark of interest crossed his previously lifeless eyes. "I have information about the Vulcan."


Amnor leaned forward, intently. "I'm listening." She slipped into interrogation mode.


"He was here. The Vorta took him from the installation during the evacuation." The Klingon began to describe methods the Dominion had employed to gain information. He described how they had subsumed Captain Sorehl into a mental illusion he could not possibly tell from reality.


“How do you know this?” she demanded.


“This is what they did to me,” he answered. "They have done it to other prisoners. Your Captain has been compromised. I saw him. He is alive.”


“The captain would never give information to the enemy,” the doctor insisted. “He’s a fully trained Vulcan; he wouldn’t even break under torture.”


“No one can withstand what they have done," the Klingon admitted, his voice growing softer. “It is not a matter of strength, but guile.”


"Where is he now?” Amnor insisted. “Do you know where they took him?"


"ghobe'. pa' jIHpu'be'," he told her.


"What else can you can tell me?"


A slow hiss left the Klingon’s lips. "The Vorta... there was never any honor in him, but… he is different now. Something else moves his actions," he replied, cryptically. He looked far away, his lips moving, as if making a promise to himself.


Amnor stepped forward. "You have done your allies a great service."


"It changes nothing,” he grumbled, waving her away. “It does not restore honor."


"If it is true what they have done to you,” Amnor interjected, “then they are the ones without honor. How can you fight an enemy in your mind? One that you do not even know is there? They will pay for what they have done. Our vengeance will be served cold. yaj’a’?”


K’Vorlag stared at her for several moments. He thought to offer some poignant Klingon idiom in response. But his lips were no longer worthy to offer the wisdom of Kahless. "jIyaj," he said quietly. "naDev vo' yIghoS." <I understand. Go away.>

Edited by KVorlag

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Refrains of Semil: Part IX (The End of Semil One)


April 17, 2374 [seven months into the Dominion War]

An away team discovers the hidden location of the escaped Semil and his remaining prisoner, both drawn to the Ovetra homeworld by the remnants of their first contact mission.


Lieutenant L’Hona Amnor looked up and down the beach.


"Vulcan life-sign,” Lieutenant Commander Renckly reported, reading his tricorder, “ahead in those caves."


Her mind registered the words. She broke into a run, straight into the dense foliage. The caves were in sight, not far beyond. Renckly and Major Muldoon both bounded past her. She thought briefly that caution would be a wise idea. She swung wide on her approach, looking for Jem'Hadar or anyone else in the area that might be a threat.


L'Hona saw both men hit the forcefield. "You cannot interfere," she heard a voice say. Looking to the source of the sound, she cursed. One of the damned Ovetra. It made sense for them to be involved. Despite the distance, she could hear Renckly tell them to drop the force field, to let them through. She turned her gaze towards the cave. She could see the captain. Crude shackles bound his wrists. He was unshaven and bruised, his clothes tattered. He looked thin and gaunt.


Semil stood beside him, threatening the crew from behind the safety of the Ovetra barrier. She watched the captain’s face. A cold knot settled into her gut. What had the Vorta done to him?


Semil turned and sent some kind of blast at the captain, smashing him against the cave wall. He rebounded from the impact, then dropped limply to the ground. She glanced upward at the unseen Ovetra, cursing them for refusing to let them intervene. L’Hona couldn't stand it. "Captain!" she called.


If only he could hear her, could know they were there, she thought.


She saw his eyes open. Had he heard her? The Vorta had turned away, speaking to Renckly. Behind him, the captain roused, getting to his feet unsteadily. Semil laughed at the team, his back still turned on the Vulcan. Amnor stared fixedly on the captain. She watched as the muscles in his arms strained against his shackles. With a sudden snap of freedom, one hand pulled free, its thumb dislocated. The captain took two more deliberate steps forward.


Sorehl's hand, slick with green blood, came up to rest on the Vorta. Semil looked startled as the fingers tensed, clamping on his shoulder. He blinked, then smiled, but didn’t fall. He didn’t even pull away. His mouth turned up in a derisive sneer. “Captain," he said dismissively, almost laughing, "you know very well a neck pinch won't work."


But he was surprised again a moment later. The captain’s other, still-shackled hand wrapped around the Vorta’s neck. Semil's eyes flew open wide as the Vulcan’s jaw tightened. Too late, he started to struggle against the grip. A violent crack sent Semil's head twisting into an unreal angle. The body spasmed once violently, then fell to the ground like the deadweight it was.


The captain stood there and watched him fail, blinking. With a ragged sigh, the Vulcan's eyes closed, and he swooned forward onto his knees, then into the dirt.


“Captain!” L'Hona shouted again, rushing forward despite the shield. Surprised, she found nothing to impede her. It was gone. She didn’t stop. The others rushed in behind her, reaching their lost commander. The doctor dropped down beside her, scanning. "You scan him. I'll carry," she told him.


Trying not to jar him, she picked the captain up. Muldoon stepped aside, standing over the Vorta’s lifeless body with just the hint of a smirk. Amnor bounded toward the beach, carrying what was left of Captain Sorehl in her arms.


Muldoon flipped open his lighter, actually touching off one of his precious cigars. "I guess even a Vulcan can tell," he offered with a billowing puff, "some people just need killin'."


Renckly glanced at the Marine. Despite what they'd witnessed, he was certain the captain wouldn't agree. On the other hand, Renckly himself was beginning to.

Edited by Sorehl

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