Disclaimer: Star Trek: Deep Space Nine is the property of Paramount Pictures.

Author's note: This is based on a scene in the episode 'Penumbra'. The title is a paraphrasing of a Harry S Truman quote: 'I always considered statesmen to be more expendable than soldiers.'

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Statesmen Are More Expendable Than Soldiers

Weyoun's hand hovered over the comm link in his quarters while he stared not at the panel, but at his fingers above it – wavering, once again, in uncertainty. It was the fourth time in half an hour that he'd found himself in that position, as he'd moved restlessly from the comm panel, to his desk, to his bed, and back again, chewing at his lip anxiously the entire time in a way that didn't befit a Vorta, much less a Weyoun. He didn't like this state of indecision, of confusion – though Founders knew he should have been used to it by now, as his entire life, ever since his activation several months ago, had been nothing but uncertainty on every front.

It had all started with Weyoun Six. Well, he had started with Weyoun Six, as it was his predecessor's defection that had prompted his own activation. That had seemed so simple, so straightforward; he'd been briefed on the trip to Cardassia Prime from Rondac III on the…situation, and he'd known exactly how to deal with it, and that he would be a credit to his line. And then it had unraveled so quickly, as they hadn't been able to find his predecessor, and then, when they finally had located him, also found that Odo had been drawn into the mess. It still sent a thrill of horror down his spine when he thought of his complicity—no, his active role in the attack on Odo. He'd woken up more than once in the middle of the night, a dream yanking him from sleep to awareness, drenched in a cold sweat, heart hammering, as he told himself he couldn't remember what the dream – what the nightmare – had been about (he's on the activation bed in a cloning facility; waking for the first time, that first gasp of air an unfamiliar lurch of muscles but so, so precious; and as his predecessors' memories flood into him there's a voice that says 'This one is a blasphemer; terminate the line immediately;' and the suffocating darkness wakes him).

There was the war; dragging, dragging on and on; the Dominion took enormous losses and the notion of expendability was taking on a whole new meaning to Weyoun. It was the ships that he needed to worry about replacing, not the Jem'Hadar; not the Vorta who died on them. The ships took time to build; time and supplies that sometimes didn't arrive on schedule, because supply lines got interrupted, or there were shortages. He'd faced the Founder's wrath on the subject before, as had Weyoun Five – but Weyoun Five had been more confident, more comfortable with his role in the war. It had come more naturally to him. Or maybe things had been simpler.

In any case, there were never enough ships, and Weyoun knew the time was coming that there wouldn't be enough hands for them, either. The Vorta presence in the quadrant was dropping; the cloning facility on Rondac III couldn't possibly keep up.

His people were a commodity like any other and sooner or later he was going to have to show the reports that he was receiving on the…on the shortages to the Founder. She would expect a solution and he didn't have one.

On the whole, solutions were something he was in short supply of. The most important, most pressing, and most impossible piece of uncertainty that he was facing was the morphogenic virus, and his consistent failure to produce a cure was the reason he was pacing back and forth across his quarters. Three hours ago the Founder had ordered him to terminate his team of Vorta scientists, who had been working constantly for months with no success. He had not reacted properly to the order, allowing his shock to get the better of him. Fifteen Vorta scientists, the best in the entire quadrant, terminated in the hopes that their successive clones would perform more satisfactorily.

Expendable. They were entirely expendable, every one of them.

'Termination' was the word that was always used in these cases but Weyoun couldn't help thinking of this as execution. There was nothing he could do but follow through with the order, and he wished his mind would allow him to soften it with the euphemistic 'termination' – as though this was something as common as workplace dismissal. But no—no. He was going to order the deaths of fifteen Vorta who had come to be his friends. How could they not, when he spent every day surrounded by Cardassians and Jem'Hadar? Fifteen of his own people. Some of his predecessors had thought of Jem'Hadar as mindless soldiers; fighting machines with no individuality; drones, almost. Totally expendable. Not so the Vorta. Now he saw that the way he had always viewed the Jem'Hadar was exactly the way the Founders viewed the Vorta, and he knew, knew that it was right, because gods couldn't be wrong.

But his stomach still grew icy when he remembered the appraising way the Founder had looked at him; the way she had measured whether or not to have him terminated along with the scientists.

He halted in front of the comm link again and stared at it. The scientists needed to be…dealt with, and dealt with soon, before the Founder decided that he could share their fate. He just couldn't decide if he should tell them what was happening or not – should he allow them to understand that this was punishment for their failure, or allow them to unwittingly walk into an execution? What did the Founder want? What would he want, if he were in the scientists' places? No—what he wanted; what they wanted, didn't matter; only the Founder's will was important.

His predecessors had all been brave men in their ways, even, it pained him to admit, Weyoun Six. It took a certain amount of courage to abandon everything one knew and believed in, and though the idea of it disgusted Weyoun, he grudgingly acknowledged it. But he couldn't help thinking – fearing – that he didn't possess the bravery of his line. Had he dropped the investigation into Weyoun Five's death because there'd been no evidence of foul play, or because he'd been afraid that a similar fate would befall him if he kept pressing the issue? And perhaps the war was dragging on in part because he wasn't aggressive enough in his strategy. Even the way he'd dealt with Weyoun Six and Odo had felt cowardly. Deception was part and parcel of a Vorta's modus operandi, but the way he'd manipulated the Jem'Hadar into firing on a god still felt distasteful, all these months later.

Now, he was afraid to inform his team of scientists that their deaths were fast approaching. It was one thing for him to know how disposable his people were. He was unwaveringly loyal; there wasn't some…some switch in him that could be flipped, or whatever had happened to Weyoun Six, to make him turn traitor. There were no guarantees that such a thing wouldn't happen with one or more of the scientists. Not, of course, that there was anything, anything at all, to turn traitor over. The scientists had failed, and it was acceptable—no, it was proper, to do exactly what the Founder had ordered him to do. Servants who couldn't perform their tasks were useless; unfit to serve. Any loyal Vorta would understand that and happily give his or her life for the Dominion.

Still, some part of him couldn't help fearing that the loyalty that he, the Founders, and all Vorta had taken for granted wasn't as ingrained as they'd always imagined. If a Weyoun, a Vorta who'd risen to the very pinnacle of the Dominion, subordinate only to the Founders themselves, could be so treacherous, then what was to stop any of them? And the fact that no one could tell him what had happened – the cloning specialists on Rondac III had looked into it and come up with nothing ("Sometimes it just happens," the supervisor had said over the subspace channel, sheepishness and the sharp edge of anxiety in her tone. He'd considered having someone executed over there, but in the end decided that nothing could be gained by it) – that made it all the more worrying. Was there some poison inside all of them, just waiting for the right catalyst to set it free? Or had his predecessor been an isolated case, an abomination with just the right—wrong—genes scrambled?

Weyoun rested his fingers on the edge of the comm panel. It wasn't just that. Moments like this forced him to admit how deeply the…situation with Weyoun Six had shaken him, but at heart he knew that—that while perhaps the fact of the scientists' terminations didn't bother him, their reactions to their own expendability might. Perhaps he didn't want to see the realization on their faces of how little they meant to their gods. It was the sort of wound that cut more deeply when shared with others, when even considering it a wound was too close to disobedience for comfort. Had Weyoun Six been troubled by this? Had it been one of the things that had led to his defection? It was a terrifying thought; that he could be contemplating the very same things that his treacherous predecessor had, and he had no way of knowing, because for the first time in his history he was missing an entire lifetime of memories.

He took a deep breath and focused an unblinking stare on the comm panel. This was a distraction – this was all a distraction. The scientists needed to be terminated, and it didn't matter if they knew or not. For a second, he held the breath he'd just drawn, and then he brought his fingers down on the comm link, opening the channel to the on-site Jem'Hadar barracks.

"Fourth," he said, addressing the Jem'Hadar who responded, "I have a task for you."