“How is it possible that you still are a Gil?” Gul Corak asked her.
“A reprimand stopped my career in place,” she replied.
“What reprimand? I saw no reprimand in your file,” he raised his eye ridges in surprise.
“It was a temporary, two-year reprimand. It was sealed off.”
“Sealed off, but not removed,” he said slowly.
She said nothing. Dukat would not remove it permanently, not if he could use it against her one day, which – in spite of her great respect for her former commander – she was sure he was capable of.
“Nevermind,” Corak waved his hand. “Your past is irrelevant to me. Your present is not,” he smiled slightly.
She squared her shoulders, expecting new orders. That was why he had asked her to his office, wasn't it?
“Jarol, you're a good, dedicated officer,” he spoke. “I had been warned that you were insubordinate and nothing but trouble, but what I see is a brave, clever soldier, who puts her crew's and her ship's well-being before her own.”
“I serve Cardassia and that way I serve my crew, my ship and myself.”
“Too many officers repeat these words not really understanding their meaning. But not you.”
He stopped in front of her. He was a tall man, his built was strong and he emanated feeling of power. His hair was greying, and it was the only thing showing his age. His eyes still shone with passions and strength.
“Gil Jarol, I would hate to lose such a good tactical officer,” he started. Oh no
, she thought panicked, but hoped it was not visible on her face. “But I hope that your aide would be an adequate replacement,” he continued.
“Yes, sir,” she confirmed. Nadar was a good officer, they shared some tricks they had learnt during their previous assignments.
“Splendid. I wouldn't like to ask for someone new, it's better to promote someone familiar with the ship. As for you, young lady,” Jarol didn't feel that young any more, “sometimes I think you read my mind and anticipate my orders. On duty these characteristics are welcome, however if you ever go to my wife and tell her my thoughts of a beautiful woman I pass by on a street while on a shore leave on Cardassia, your reprimand would never be sealed off.”
She wasn't sure where he was getting, but the joke made her smile.
“Glinn Jarol, it is my pleasure to inform you that your promotion has been approved by the Central Command and hereby you are being transferred from tactical to command as my aide.”
She was speechless, she didn't see that
one coming. He never mentioned he applied for a promotion for her. She stared at him like hypnotised.
“Well, say something, tell me you're happy,” he said.
“I will need a new cuirass,” she said.
It was so silly she didn't believe she really said that.
Corak laughed. “Indeed, you will.”
“That's better,” he commented her face expression. “Finally some emotion. I started to worry you're a Vulcan spy.”
“I have slanted eye ridges,” she pointed at her face.
Corak's laughter echoed in his small office. “I'm afraid,” he said, “that we can't afford a celebration.”
“I don't need a celebration,” she replied. “This is no time for wasting resources.”
“Don't forget to recycle your old cuirass,” he waved at her, indicating he was done and she could leave now.
“I won't, sir,” she nodded with gratitude and left his office.
She couldn't wait to share this with Brenok. She took her tactical post and returned to work, but her mind was wandering.
She remembered the day Brenok had beamed aboard. Corak waited in the transporter room with her. Brenok materialised with a small bag of his belongings and stepped down to face his new Gul.
“That's an interesting haircut,” was the first thing Corak said.
Brenok didn't wear standard Cardassian military haircut any more, his hair was long, with a parting on the top of his head and pulled down on both sides, covering his ears and meeting at the nape of his neck, where he braided it; the tress was reaching his shoulder blades. Jarol wished her hair was that thick.
“It is to cover the scar,” the engineer pulled his hair up to show remains of his ear: dark grey and reddish meat, resembling one of most disgusting Klingon dishes. The scar reached as far as his cheek ridges with a few scales missing, like peeled off, which was visible even with his hair long.
“There are ways to deal with it, you know,” the Gul said. “Some reconstruction... maybe?”
“It's not a shame for a man to have a battle scar,” Brenok replied.
“No, it's not,” agreed Corak. “So why do you hide it?”
“I don't want to scare my daughter, she's only two,” Brenok muttered, lowering his eyes, and Corak smiled widely. He clearly liked that answer.
“Well,” he raised his hand to stroke his moustache – Jarol rarely saw men with facial hair – and said, “just don't let that tail entangle into warp core.”
Brenok smiled slightly. “Yes, sir.”
Gul's aide, on the other hand, hated Brenok's specific look and never let him forget he was not wearing the standard Guard cut. That man was always strictly following rules and Jarol often wondered how come he and Corak – the most lenient Gul she ever had to work with – could get along and co-operate. She never had any problems with Daset, but his picking on Brenok was getting on her nerves and she was really relieved knowing that he was being promoted and getting his own command. Brenok never complained, but she knew returning to active service was tough for him without Daset's comments.
Now she didn't have to worry about him being bullied by ship's second in command. Now second in command would bully anyone, who would dare to raise their hand on him!
“Can I talk to you in private?” Daset's voice startled her. She looked up at him and he jerked his head toward the lift. She followed him. “Do you mind if we talk in my quarters?” he asked before giving the lift computer instructions.
“No,” she didn't know what to expect from this.
“Deck seven,” he said.
None of them spoke until they arrived to his cabin.
Jarol was impressed. Daset was always so stiff, so official she would never expect him to decorate his living space at all and definitely not in such a manner.
The quarters were bigger than hers – no surprise here, after all he was ship's second in command – and filled with ancient objects and art. There were traditional daggers and swords hanging on walls, two paintings – one of panorama of Lakat City, the other one of Ministry of Justice building – the lights were arranged to look like candles and there was a sculpture on the table, but it was too far from the door where she stood, so she couldn't tell what it represented.
“I believe congratulations are in order,” he said and headed for the sofa.
“Congratulations on your promotion, sir,” she said crisply. All that was so confusing.
He laughed heartily; she's never heard him laugh like that. She didn't even think he could
laugh like that.
“I mean I
on your promotion.”
“Oh. Thank you, sir.” What was going on?
“Come, sit down,” he invited her to take an armchair on the other side of the table.
She sat, while he got up and went to adjacent room. He returned with a bottle of kanar and two glasses.
“I'm on duty,” she said.
“I won't tell anyone, if you won't,” he smiled.
was Glinn 'by the book' Daset?
He poured a little kanar to both glasses and raised his, handing her the other one. She took it. He touched her glass with his. “To our careers.”
“To our careers,” she let herself a tiny smile.
They emptied glasses and he stopped the bottle. “We both are still on duty,” he said and then looked at her. “You must be wondering what I want to talk about.”
She nodded, a little too fervently. She looked at the sculpture – now she could see it was a mar'kuu, an extinct sea animal.
“You have been here long enough to know Gul Corak,” he started, leaning back on the sofa and sitting comfortably. “You surely have noticed he is very forgiving, lenient and fatherly figure.”
She nodded; that sounded about right.
“The sad truth is that not every Cardassian soldier is worth of such treatment. Some would attempt to abuse Gul's good heart. You cannot allow it,” he said firmly.
“You are standing between him and them. You must make sure they know that if they don't perform to the best of their abilities, he might forgive them, but you wouldn't.”
She started to understand. “You want me to protect him from those, who would try to abuse his good heart.”
“That's right. Corak is a good commander, he is wise, he cares, sometimes too much, but he lacks the cruelty, which sometimes is necessary to keep his own crew in line. You
must keep them in line.”
“I see...” she said slowly.
“Please, don't assume I'm overreacting or am overprotective.” 'Please'? Did he really say 'please'? “I've already seen what could happen if anyone from the crew feels they are allowed not to follow Corak's order strictly as being told. I don't want that to happen again.”
She said nothing.
“Just be the tough side he lacks, that's all,” he smiled. “You won't be liked much, but you'll be effective.”
Oh, he didn't have to explain that. She was well aware how much everyone aboard hated and feared him. “I'll remember that,” she said.
“Can I ask you something?”
“There is a file in your profile... It's completely empty. Why is that?”
“I don't know what you mean.”
“Come on, I'm just curious, it's not official business,” he smiled.
“I really don't know,” she said honestly. “I don't check my profile, I know my life without it,” she grinned slightly.
“Good point,” he admitted. “I accessed it when Corak told me you'd replace me. Wanted to check you out,” he rose and went to his desk. He activated the screen, searched for a moment and then gave her the stardate.
Ahal. Her whole ordeal with Ahal was... deleted? No one could access the info about her defying her Gul any more. Who did this? She suspected Dukat. Another debt.
“I'd rather not talk about it,” she sighed.
“Let's just say I am able to tell my Gul when I think he is totally wrong.”
Daset clearly didn't expect such a reply, as he looked at her eye wide. “You refused to follow an order?”
“He wanted to kill Cardassians.”
“Sometimes a sacrifice is necessary,” Daset commented.
“However it wasn't necessary then
. It was the easiest way, but hardly the only way.”
Daset nodded. Maybe he understood.
“I'm sure Gul Corak would never
give such an order,” she added.
“There are many incompetent Guls there,” Daset returned to the table. “Too many good officers lost their lives following them, or following their conscience and defying their fallacious orders.”
“What would you do in my place?” she asked.
“I don't know,” he said. “I'm not sure I'd have enough courage to refuse orders from my Gul, even wrong orders,” he admitted.
Did she hear right? Did he just say he considered her courageous? Was this some form of admiration?
“Does it change your mind about me as your replacement as Gul's aide?” she asked him.
He shook his head without hesitation. “No, Jarol, no. You are a good officer. Your duty and loyalty is to Cardassia, not to it's temporary rulers or Guls. People change and die, the Union must thrive. Your mind and heart are where they should be.”
“If that's all, I must return to duty,” she rose.
“Your duty ended three minutes ago,” he grinned. “Let's finish this bottle. It's good vintage.”
“Indeed it is,” she nodded, smiling and handing him the glass to refill. “I like the sculpture,” she added, pointing at the mar'kuu.
It was interesting to see his side of Daset. In a way she was sorry he was leaving...