“Legate Damar,” she greeted him upon entering the room. He raised his head from the panel and looked at her with widely opened eyes. She stood by the door, all business. A long moment passed and then Damar burst into laughter.
“How did you call me?” he approached her and grabbed her arms in greeting.
“How shall I call you?” she replied, but a tiny smile was crawling on her lips. She knew what was coming.
“'Corat', you are one of those few people, who don't have to 'legate' me.”
“That will get some getting used to,” she said, smiling widely. It was good to see him, at was great to see him in a good mood in spite of grim situation. Little she knew that his mood had been as grim as the situation before she entered.
“Why? This is the first time you called me a legate,” he went back to the console and resumed tapping at it.
“Well, I'm maybe not used to call you
a legate, but I am used to address 'legate' people, who wear this,” she tapped his armour.
“Don't mention it,” he said, returning to the console. She glanced over his shoulder to see what was on the display. “I don't believe this,” he muttered to himself. “Atira,” he turned to her. “I called you here for a reason.”
“I'm sure you did. You're too busy to casually catch up with old friends,” she wasn't sure the last words were acceptable. She still had some objections of being so familiar with a legate; maybe it was old, good Damar, maybe he was the same man she fought Klingons with, maybe he was the person, who she dined with her almost every evening on that Klingon bucket, maybe it was the man, who saved her life, but now this man was wearing a legate's armour and as a Cardassian she was practically genetically designed to show him due respect. How could she break that conditioning? It wouldn't be even right. But then – she had broken that conditioning once, so it was possible. And again – she defied authority as she believed that authority was wrong, and it had brought troubles and demotion and she had landed on an obscure freighter... where she met Damar, the current head of Cardassia. She smiled inwardly at the irony. “So what did you want to discuss?”
“You know about the Breen,” it wasn't a question, but a statement. She nodded. “Do you know the Founder gave them Cardassian territory?”
“And you agreed to that?!” she didn't expect that.
“They didn't ask me. They just told me to sign the document.”
“And you did.”
“I didn't have a choice.”
“There's always a choice.”
“They'd execute me and make someone else sign it.”
She started to understand. “You're just a paw, aren't you.”
His face expression made her want to eat back those words. She hurt him.
“I don't intend to be any longer,” he said.
“So what's the plan?”
“Your former commander was executed by the Dominion, as he didn't hide his despise for them.”
“So I expect your crew is not very fond of our... rulers,” he pulled his face, saying the last word.
“No, we're not.”
“Explain to your crew you work for Cardassia again, not for the Dominion. But be careful, there is someone there loyal to the Dominion. He can't know about us!”
“Wait, wait, I don't follow,” what was he telling her?
“Which part don't you follow?” he sighed. She noticed his hands were slightly shaking.
“All of it.”
“Atira,” he put his hands on the edge of a console, clearly to hide the shaking. “I am looking for loyal Cardassian crews. I don't have to ask you, I know you. I trust you. I want you to join me and fight the Dominion and not rest until they all are either gone or dead, but out of our
“Now you're talking,” she smiled.
“However there is a soldier among your crew, who is loyal to them. He cannot know about us, or we would all be dead, and you're first in line.”
“How do you know that?”
“Someone tipped Weyoun that former Gul of Roumar was expressing his anti-Dominion opinions aboard the ship. It was one of your officers. I don't know who, but he still could be there. Be careful.”
One of their own betrayed their Gul. She felt anger raising in her soul and burning into her heart. She had to find him and punish for his treason.
“How many of us are there?” she asked.
“Not many yet. I want you to find more, to search for them and recruit them. We'll discuss details, but not here. How about tonight, do you have plans?”
“I have now.”
“In my quarters. Wear civilian clothes. Weyoun won't get suspicious seeing another lady around me and we'd be able to talk freely. Nineteen hundred hours.”
“I'll be there,” she promised.
“Splendid,” he smiled, turning to her. He took his hands off the console and they were shaking again.
“Corat, are you all right?” she asked with worry.
For a split second his eyes went to a corner, where on the table was... nothing. The absence of a bottle of kanar and glasses was so clear that it was almost screaming at her. How could she not notice it earlier?
“I'm fine,” he said quietly. “Go now. I'll see you later. ”
She nodded, patted his shoulder and left.
She left Damar's office and headed for officers' lounge to pick up her new orders, while a familiar face came into her view. He was walking purposefully from the opposite side of the corridor in her direction. He abruptly stopped, almost causing a Cardassian walking behind him bump onto him.
“Jarol?” his voice was full of disbelief. “How are you?” he asked her, approaching closer.
“Fine. I can see you're doing well too,” she smiled at him, pointing at his Legate armour.
“Oh, it happened so long ago I already stopped thinking about it,” Demok smiled. “But I knew you would climb the career ladder and reach high.”
“Of course. You were always so hardworking, so diligent,” seemed like he didn't change much, still ever present happy smile on his face, still an optimist. “Would you have some time to catch up later?” he asked her.
“Depends on my new orders.”
“Oh, I'm sure we can do something about keeping you on Cardassia for one evening,” his smile became wider, revealing how deep his wrinkles became. It gave him a new, distinguished look, especially since his mature face was circled by greying hair. Has it really been only a few years since she last saw him?
“You're the Legate here,” she smiled back.
“Then it's settled. Come to my house today. For a dinner. My cook is a magician and his dishes are real treasures.”
“It would be nice to have a decent meal for change, but not tonight. I have other plans,” she admitted.
“That tough on the food front, ah? How about tomorrow, then?”
“Well, it's not easy... but rewarding. And tomorrow would be fine.”
“You'll tell me all about the rewarding part tomorrow then.”
“Nineteen hundred hours.”
“I'll be there.”
He patted her shoulder amicably, not unlike she had just patted Damar's, and went his way.
She resumed her walk to the lounge. There were not familiar faces there, so she picked the padd with her orders and beamed back to Roumar.
She had to admit Damar must have given everything a lot of thought. Her task was to find and recruit loyal Cardassians to their cause and her official orders were to inspect Fifth Order. What better way to talk to officers and test their loyalties if not knocking at their doors?