A way of the... rebel?
The door opened and Jarol went out to the corridor. Damar stood in the doorway. She noticed two Jem'Hadar at the end of the corridor. She gently touched Damar's cheek. “It was wonderful to spend this time with you,” she said a little too loud.
He followed her eyes and saw the Dominion soldiers too. He grabbed her hand, still at his cheek, and kissed it. “The pleasure was all mine,” he said smiling.
She headed toward the exit at the end of the corridor, hearing Damar's door closing. “Good evening, gentlemen,” she said to the Jem'Hadar. “Or is it 'good morning' already?” she wondered loudly.
As expected, they ignored her completely, but she was sure they filed all they just saw and could report it to anyone, who demanded it, down to the tiniest details of her white-blue dress.
Two years earlier
The tactical group beamed down; armed to teeth and ready to fend an attack. But there was nothing. Their beam destination was on the edge of a forest, not very clever choice, since the wall of trees was perfect for Maquis terrorists to hide and attack, but Jarol's explanations had fallen on deaf ears – Glinn Daset didn't appreciate suggestions and going over his head directly to Corak was equal to death sentence. So she assigned eight more soldiers for his protection.
The forest didn't seem to hide any ambush squad. She noticed Daset shot her a full of self-satisfaction glance. She bit her lower lip. They got lucky, but that was no excuse to be as negligent next time.
“After you,” he barked at her.
She nodded to her people and they moved toward the settlement. Her team created a V shape, with her in the lead and the Glinn in the middle, protected on both sides in case of a sudden attack.
The truth was they had no proof that there were any Maquis there, but the fact was they needed no proof. The possibility of no Maquis here was close to zero. All the Cardassians wanted to do was to collect their
resources: food and other materials. The colonists refused to pay obligatory tribute – something each colony had to do – and it was necessary to make them surrender all goods that belonged to the Union in the first place.
It was quiet, too quiet and Joral was sure it wouldn't be easy.
She heard Daset's steps just behind her. How was she supposed to protect him if he behaved recklessly? He should be inside their protective formation, not at the head, where he was most exposed to an attack. But she knew why: he didn't like she
was at the front, and she
could be taken for the team's leader; oh, he would hate that! Therefore she ignored his pushing forward and concentrated on their surroundings.
Parallel to the fringe of the forest there was a paved road, leading to the nearby town. She didn't want to walk on it, as their heavy boots would make too much noise (funny, they could be seen from the town, but she worried about being heard?), luckily the ground on both sides of the road was hard enough not to sink in it, while walking.
They entered the town and directed their steps to the council building. It was a two storey house, built especially for this purpose. The architecture was completely alien, but Jarol liked it. The front entrance was surrounded by slender columns and windows weren't typical rectangles, so common for Federation designs, but circles.
The Cardassians entered the building. It seemed abandoned. Now, to think of it, Jarol realised that whole town seemed abandoned. She didn't hear any sounds, except for these made by nature: weather and fauna, and other alike; she didn't see any bipeds anywhere, and not even those noisy, furry, funny hounds she had seen once. Something was wrong, very wrong.
She raised her hand, sending a signal to everyone to stop. All boots-made sounds seized, only Daset kept walking until he was directly behind her. She opened her mouth to share her observations with him, but noise of slamming doors behind her interrupted her. Jarol and Daset turned to see they were cut off from the rest of their team, and armed people of many species were training their weapons on them.
“Drop that,” a man barked, pointing at riffles the Cardassians carried.
“Perfect tactical planning,” muttered Daset, glaring at Jarol and then putting his riffle down.
You approved of everything
, she thought bitterly, following his example. She could hear muffled sounds from the other side of the massive door and worried about the rest of the troop. Would the terrorists kill them? Would they kill her and Daset?
“If anything happens to us, Cardassia will send a fleet to punish you,” the Glinn's thoughts obviously went the same way her did.
“We won't kill you, we're not murderers,” said the same man, who told them to drop their weapons. Jarol thought he wasn't a Terran, but some other species, however she has never learned to distinguish all those ridgeless faces, so she couldn't tell. The most distinguished feature of his look was white, long hair, also on his face. “We just want to teach you a lesson.”
“And what could you
possible teach us?” Daset asked defiantly.
“You'll see,” the man replied. “Move,” he motioned towards a door in the other end of the long room.
Joral gave Daset an asking look and he nodded. “This should be interesting,” he muttered and headed for the door. She followed him.
They were disarmed, led to a small room and locked there. No windows, walls and the door seemed sound proof, as they heard no sounds from outside. Both Cardassians looked at each other surprised.
is the lesson?” Daset wondered loudly. Jarol just shrugged and then started detailed examination of walls.
“You hope to find a secret tunnel to run away?” Daset asked.
She glanced at him; she thought he was ridiculing her, but he was doing the same thing at the opposite wall.
“Well, I don't intend to just sit and wait,” she answered.
Walls seemed to be made of concrete, cold in touch and without even tiniest crack.
“Now what?” she looked at the Glinn.
“Can you hear it?” he frowned.
She stopped breathing, trying to mute all sounds in the small chamber, but couldn't hear anything. Not wanting to disturb the silence, in case Daset would hear something again, she just shook her head.
“I can't hear anything any longer too,” he sounded disappointed.
They rechecked walls, the door, the floor, but it gave them nothing. Jarol felt her frustration growing; Daset was as clueless as she was. All they could do was waiting.
At first she paced impatiently, but her feet grew tired, so she sat down. There was no way to tell how much time passed: was it an hour? Two? Five? At some point she felt like it was a year or ten years.
Daset sat next to her. None of them spoke. She had no idea when she fell asleep.
Something shook. The ground? Something was pulling her arm. Her mind slowly returned to reality – a small, grey like Cardassian skin, room.
“Wake up, Jarol,” it was Daset. “Wake up!”
“Did they return?” she asked, her voice still rusty from sleep.
“No, but you have to move,” she stood and pulled her up by her shoulders. “Stand up, you need to walk.”
She tried to comply, but it was difficult for some reason; just then she realised she was shivering and stiff. It was terribly cold.
“What happened?” she asked.
“I don't know, but it gets colder and walls get more humid,” he indicated drops of condensed water on concrete. “Move, or you'll freeze.”
She started pacing around the room, rubbing her cold hands. Daset walked next to her.
“Do you have any estimates how long we've been here?” she asked him.
He shook his head. “No idea, however it's surely been hours.”
“I don't like this lesson at all.”
He smiled slightly; it was very rare to see anything else than a frown on his face.
“What do you think they do with soldiers?” she asked, blowing into her cupped hands to warm them up.
“I wouldn't know.”
She worried about them. They were under her direct command and if anything would happen to them, it'd be her fault and she'd feel responsible. She glanced at Daset; he was shaking too, his jaw was firmly clenched. She wasn't sure if it was a sign of his anger or an attempt to stop his teeth from clattering.
“We'll die if they keep us here much longer,” she said quietly.
Daset didn't reply.
Jarol was getting colder. Her shivering was more obvious now.
“Take off your cuirass,” Daset said. She looked at him, shocked. He was taking off his.
“It'll be colder, then,” she protested weakly.
“Off!” he barked. She took it off. “Follow me,” he ordered.
He started doing exercises. After a few examples she realised it was a set of warm ups they used at the Academy. Some moves were so rapid and demanding, so the outer part of the armour would indeed obstruct them and make them less effective.
“Are you warmer?” Daset asked after some time.
“Inside, yes, but I barely feel my fingers,” she said, rubbing her hands against one another and then put her hands under her arms to keep them warm. Doing it with the cuirass would be impossible, as the outer part of the armour was hard and cool in touch, unlike the inner part, which was covered with fairly soft fabric.
They kept walking in circles inside the small room. A little lightbulb at the ceiling was flickering from time to time and Jarol wondered, if it would go off at some point, leaving them in complete darkness.
Daset put his cuirass back on and sat. She followed his example, noticing the walls were not that wet any more.
They waited long time and her head was getting heavy and sleepy. Finally the door made a squeaking noise – someone was opening it. They both got up. When the door opened Daset furiously charged the first person he noticed. Jarol didn't have a chance to move as a Klingon disruptor was pointed at her face.
“Don't move,” the owner of the weapon warned her.
“Let her go,” someone still on the corridor, invisible to Jarol, said. “I said, let her go!”
Daset, growling, let the woman he had grabbed by the throat go.
They were led back to the council room where they had been caught.
“How was your night?” asked the same white hair man.
“What do you think you can achieve by torturing us?” the Glinn asked angrily.
“Torturing? We're not like you, we don't torture people. And being locked for a night is hardly a torture.”
“You idiot!” Daset motioned to charge at him, but was stopped, seeing a phaser riffle raised and aimed at his head.
A woman entered the room, approached the white hair man and whispered something to his ear. The man looked at both Cardassians, then at her, and then at the Cardassians again. His face changed its expression from defiant to worried.
“Ok, look,” the man addressed them. “We meant you no harm. We just wanted to keep you as hostages. So that your ship would leave us alone. But your companions fell sick.”
Both Daset and Jarol were glaring at him. Their eyes were full of hatred.
“We kept them in a room like yours,” the man continued. “Under yours to be exact, deeper in the ground. And all of them... something happened...”
Jarol thought she understood. They'd been locked in a concrete chamber underground, and when the night fell it cooled down. Deeper most likely meant also cooler.
“You froze them,” she spat the words, furious. “You locked us all in cold rooms like meat in refrigerators and you wonder why we're sick?!” she finished almost shouting.
The Maquis looked at each other confused. Jarol was outraged. They not only tortured them, they did it for no purpose, the did not
even understand what they did to their prisoners.
“We'll let you take your sick to your ship, if you leave us alone.”
“Don't count on that!” Daset shouted, raising his fist and shaking it.
Jarol looked at him. She didn't want to yield to demands, but weren't lives of their people more important? They could always lie; take their soldiers, return to their ship and eradicate all Maquis, and then
take what they came for.
“You don't have much of a choice,” the man said. “They need medical attention and I'm sure your doctor is better qualified to help them than any of us here.”
“You cannot blackmail Cardassian Union, you fool,” Daset snorted. “What do you think you're going to accomplish? If we die – others will come. If we leave – others will come. If you think two officers and a few soldiers are so important to relieve you from your colonial duty, then you are the most stupid Efrosian I've ever seen.”
“I'm not so stupid you think,” the man replied.
“No? So let's sit and wait,” Daset went to one of chairs and sat.
Jarol was confused. That's it? What was Daset waiting for? Lives of their crewmen depended on time and he clearly was stalling. This wasn't right, wasn't right at all.
The... what did Daset call him? Efrosian? Seemed to be confused too. For only a moment, though.
“Look, let's be reasonable.”
“Shut up!” Daset barked, leaned back, closed his eyes and appeared fully relaxed. Jarol knew there was more to that, she wouldn't believe Daset had no plan, but she couldn't guess what it might be.
“Gil Jarol,” he spoke not opening his eyes, “isn't it about this time we came here yesterday?”
She, just as Daset, had no chronometer, as their wristcomms had been taken away a day before, so she looked at the window to assess the sun's position.
“I suppose it is,” she confirmed. It seemed to be late morning or early afternoon.
“Wonderful,” the Glinn said calmly. She had an impression he almost smiled.
There was something about to happen or... he was bluffing, although she had never heard of Daset bluffing. His threats were always real. She decided to play his game: she sat on the chair next to his in a relaxed pose, but she didn't dare to close her eyes. One of them had to keep an eye on the Maquis.
Not much time passed when whatever Daset was waiting for started. There was some commotion outside, they could hear phaser fire and shouting. The Glinn's pose didn't change, he didn't even open his eyes. He knew
what was happening outside. Jarol couldn't stop her smile, while all the Maquis in the room looked... scared? Worried? Two stayed with their weapons trained on the Cardassians, while the rest left the room.
“Gull Corak told me that if no signal would come from us within 25 hours, he'd send troops down,” Daset said quietly.
“You could have told me.”
“I couldn't be sure they don't eavesdrop.”
“You could have told me before
we beamed down.”
“There was no reason to.”
She had no choice, but to accept his answer. Besides, now it really didn't matter, but explained a lot of his behaviour here and also in the concrete chamber. All they could do now was to be rescued.
And they were. And it was a high price the colonists had to pay for their foolishness. No one, NO ONE! dares to take Cardassian officers hostage, at least no one, who wants to live.