She stood in the corridor and waited to be let inside. After a short moment the door parted and Dukat smiled to her.
“Come in,” he invited her.
She was not sure what she was doing in his quarters. He had summoned for her, but hadn't specified what kind of order would that be.
“Would you like a drink?” he asked. “I have some spring wine left.”
“I don't care for Bajoran beverages,” she said and immediately regretted her words. When will she learn to hold her tongue?
He glared at her and for a second she thought she'd pay for her words, but he only said: “Please sit.”
So she sat. Whole situation was getting more and more weird.
He took a glass with spring wine – blue? Why was it blue? She had no idea it was blue – and sat next to her. He took a stray strand of her hair, which fell out of her bun and put it behind her ear. She froze. She wanted to say something, ask him why he wanted her to come to his quarters, but was unable to do anything.
“I didn't realise how harshly I have treated you after...” his voice trailed off for a moment, “after your family had been killed.”
“I deserved that,” she said.
“No. Your loss was punishment enough. You made a mistake and you paid highest price for that mistake. I shouldn't have punished you additionally.”
“It was well within regulations,” she said.
“Maybe. But now I understand how you felt, how it is to lose family.”
She looked at him for the first time since she sat down. Was he trying to apologise?
“I will do everything to make it up to you,” he said.
“It doesn't matter any more,” she replied, her pain finding way out from heavy shielding she managed to hide it behind.
“It will always matter,” he said softly, putting his hand on her armour's shoulder, his long finger touching her neck ridge scales.
“If this is all, I have to attend to my duties,” she said stiffly.
“Of course,” he rose and so did she.
She nodded and left his quarters.
“What did he want?” Damar asked quietly upon her arrival to the bridge.
“Actually, I am not sure,”she said and took her post.
She eyed the Bajoran woman, who manned engineering console. She could hear her speaking to Brenok over the comm, so she assumed they were installing that cannon.
Maybe it was her? Jarol knew this woman was a terrorist, she heard Dukat mentioning it once. What if the shapeshifter had caught wrong people. Such things were known to happen, not often, but still. What if they hadn't execute the real murderers. What if this Bajoran had given the order to plant the bomb in that Hideki? Jarol shook her head. You can't think like that, it will drive you crazy
, she thought. The guilty had been found, prosecuted and executed. She'd witnessed their execution,but it hadn't brought her any relief. Her pain never diminished, she felt no justice had been served; nothing would bring them back, nothing. But she wouldn't be able to accept, if her children murderers were now some kind of heroes on Bajor.
The Bajoran must have felt her eyes on her, as she glanced at the Gil. Jarol looked her in the eyes. Both women kept staring at each other for a moment and then both returned to their duties.
You can't hate all Bajorans, Jarol told herself, not all of them are guilty of your family's death, just like not all Cardassians were part of Bajor annexation. Her family surely wasn't and she was better than Bajorans, she didn't hate everyone blindly, she was a Cardassian, she was superior intellectually to see the difference. She didn't have to like the Bajoran woman, but she didn't have to hate her just because she was a Bajoran. Owning a wrinkled nose was reason not good enough.
The first meal aboard the Klingon vessel was a celebration: Gul Dukat decided to mark the victory and most of crew met in the filthy mess hall to dine.
Jarol was a little shocked upon entering the room. It was dark even for Cardassian standards, and it stank. Reddish light made everything look crimson and the smell reminded her of a slaughterhouse.
“Some gagh?” Damar's voice asked behind her.
“You're joking, right?” she turned to face him.
“Yes, I am,” he smiled, handing her a plate. “Here's delicious range of field rations, prepared especially for you.”
“Uhm, yummy,” she muttered, taking the plate. She looked around. The Bajoran they were transporting back to Terok Nor, whatever it was called now, was absent, but the half-Bajoran daughter of her commander was there, sitting next to her father. She pulled her face at the sight of the girl and turned away. The whining weakling annoyed her.
“I must warn you we are returning to Ter... Deep Space Nine,” Damar told her.
“I knew that. We need to take back the Bajoran,” she muttered.
“Yes, but we might have to stay for a day or two,” he said. “At least to take more rations and dump gagh, unless you want to try it.” She cursed in her native language. “What was that?” he asked, coming closer.
“What did you say?”
“Nothing. Ah,” she realised he meant her vocabulary, “nothing. It is... it's just... nothing.”
“Which dialect was it?”
“Dialect?” she suddenly fumed. “It was not
a dialect, but a language. Another language
“All right, all right!” he raised one of his hands in defence. “So what language
“Nokarian,” she pointed her sharp, slightly slanted eye ridges.
“Of course,” he nodded. “That explains why you sometimes speak... funny...”
“Forgive the expression, but... yeah, funny,” he sheepishly smiled.
“Well, but then I speak perfect Nokarian,” she mocked a proud face and then they both giggled.
“So how is life in Nokar?”
“Terribly cold in winter, awfully hot in summer, no food, little water, high infant death rate.”
“You think why I chose this career?”
“To run away?” his eyes opened wider.
“No, to make a living and feed my family. Most of my pay goes back home. They can't grow food any more, but at least they can buy some.”
“I share my pay too,” he nodded with understanding.
“Come, everyone!” they heard Dukat's voice. “Let's sit!”
Everyone headed for the table, and after a short commotion caused by finding a suitable seat according to rank and age, they all sat.
“Let's have some bloodwine,” Dukat raised his mug. Only then Jarol noticed that in front of each officer a mug was standing. She picked hers. She had never had bloodwine before. “Don't drink too much,” Dukat warned. “We need to arrive to the space station in one piece.”
Everyone laughed politely.
Red alert woke her up. First few seconds she wasn't sure where she was and what was happening, but then her mind work from its sleep too.
She was in the middle of putting her armour on when her comm biped and Dukat's voice spoke: “Jarol, report to the engineering, we've been boarded.”
She acknowledged, grabbed her riffle and phaser and ran toward to lift. She almost stumbled over a body on the floor, losing grip on her riffle and dropping it, when she ran out of the lift upon arriving to the engineering. She looked around to see Cardassians struggling with Klingons, the latter ones being majority. She moved toward a Cardassian, who was attacked by two Klingons and took one of aggressors on herself. She'd learnt to dodge bat'leth perfectly, so her avoiding moves were irritating the Klingon.
“You fight without honour!” he yelled and swung his blade toward her face. She stepped back, avoiding her head being cut to two and finally had a chance to fire her phaser. The Klingon fell on the floor dead, but another one charged her, shouting insults. She prepared to squeeze the trigger, but he was faster and reached her sooner than expected. She knew she had no chances against a Klingon man in hand to hand combat, so she needed to use one of her tricks. She crouched and then rammed him, aiming at his chest with her shoulder, her armour taking most of the blow. She managed to steal his knife from behind his belt.
In the corner of her eye she noticed Brenok falling on the deck with a huge Klingon standing over him. Brenok kicked to move back, but his position was vulnerable. The Klingon raised his bat'leth and took aim. The deadly weapon fell and even from her position she knew it was aimed at Brenok's head.
The time slowed for her. She completely forgot about her Klingon, she just saw the bat'leth raised again for another blow, caked with blood; no doubt Brenok's head was split to two – she dared not look at the young officer she grew so fond of. His tragic end would be too much for her.
“No, not Brenok,” she whispered, feeling her rage growing, and charged the Klingon. She jumped on his back and before he had time to react, she sank the stolen knife in his neck. They fell, the bat'leth still in Klingon's hand, although it was clear he was dead.
A thud behind her reminded her she'd neglected “her” Klingon, so she quickly rolled to face him, but she saw his headless body on the deck and Damar with his phaser standing over it.
“Thanks, Corat,” she said not sure he could hear her in the total havoc around them, but he understood her, nodded and turned to face another enemy.
But it was over. The engineering was full of Cardassians – dead, or wounded, but many still alive – and dead Klingons.
Just then Jarol realised that among moaning and shouting, and crying she could hear a familiar voice. She hadn't registered it before, but it was Brenok's voice.
She crawled to him to see he was alive, putting his left hand to his ear. She grabbed his palm to move it away to see the injury. The Klingon missed and his bat'leth didn't split Cardassian's head, but reached his ear, cut the lobe off and sank in the neck ridge. Right side of Brenok's head was a huge wound and rests of his ear were hanging on what remained of his cheek ridges. His neck ridge wound seemed more serious, as his right hand and arm were thrashing – she feared his nerves were damaged. He was bleeding profusely and she worried his life was still in danger.
Two medics ran to him and took care of his ear. She stood aside not to be in their way.
“I hope he's going to be fine,” she heard Damar's voice next to her.
“So do I, so do I...” she replied.