Cardassian Union Warship Romac
Thirteenth Order Rebellion
Union Year 505
[Federation Year 2375]
Gul Tayben Berat sat in the mess hall aboard the Romac
, quietly observing the improbable pair that stood by the elliptical observation window. There stood Zejil Rebek now—a tiny presence, physically, for the rank she carried…but even if she hadn’t
been one of his dearest friends, he had to laugh silently at the thought of how hypocritical it would be for him, of all people, to comment. Especially after how she had stood by him after the Fist of Revenge coup, and the incident on Volan III. He certainly hadn’t forgotten how she’d rebuked Malyn Ocett after the comments the other gul had made right to Berat’s face, after his injuries. She might think Rebek nothing but a tiny ‘pocket vompăt
,’ but he knew better. And he’d heard how she had fought on the surface of Lessek, as well. If he had ever doubted how she would do her duty in light of her complicated allegiances—those days were gone many years ago.
At her side, the terhăn
lieutenant commander, Spirodopoulos, fixed his face reverently upon the stars and without the slightest hint of shame, made that same strange sign Berat had seen him make at the funeral: one hand, first three fingertips together, forehead to chest, shoulder to shoulder. As if it weren’t surreal enough already to see this alien wearing the armor of the Cardassian Guard, fitted perfectly to him in every way except for the narrowness of his neck, it seemed even more incongruous to see this armored man make such a gesture without a single thought as to what anybody might think. Or at least, without any fear of what anybody would do
to him for it.
Zejil—and she had granted him the right to call her Zija, as only her family and childhood friends could—watched him in complete stillness and, if he wasn’t mistaken, a touch of sadness. She said something to him then; he heard nothing—maybe she asked him what that sign meant. But she could never tell him why
she cared. Even on the same ship…he was free. She still was not. Even here, isolated from the rest of the Guard, even after inviting the alliance with the Starfleet soldiers under Spirodopoulos’ command, there were still those who would kill her if they realized what she was—and especially
in this time of shattered hierarchy. Too
many violations of the norms, and people were likely to snap.
What was that term he’d used for their observances twenty-two years ago? Yes…primitive ritualistic behavior.
That wasn’t what he saw now. She scrutinized the stars with the knowing eyes of a scientist; in return, they cast their cool white sheen upon her scales. The delicate blue pigments on her forehead and neck ridges iridesced at this touch, and as he watched, he felt as though he saw, obliquely, what it was that had frustrated her so severely that day in the Inquisitorium library. This painstaking study was for her a form of meditation and reverence—when she’d found her efforts frustrated, perhaps she had found it disruptive like the intrusion of his bioelectric field upon her prayer. It meant
something to her.
Even if she couldn’t speak openly to the man, she had to know that Spirodopoulos would comprehend her Way in a sense that most of her own species did not—not even her closest friend, who had kept her secret all this time and sown such trust between them that he could ask her to join this rebellion and she barely even blinked before she said ‘yes.’ But that wasn’t the same as speaking and truly being understood
. He felt as though he were standing in the wrong place. He wished…he wasn’t sure what
he longed for, but something would have to change before he could find out.
But I wouldn’t change Zija
much he knew.