Story note: This story has been written for Ad Astra Friendship Challenge
Trust and betrayal
Glinn Nadar was late. Late. Gil Karama has never experienced anyone to be 'late'. It was unthinkable for a Cardassian to be late. It was disrespectful to a person not to value their time and to waste it. Time was one of those things one can never get back. However Karama wasn't angry. Nadar was his friend. Nadar was his best friend. Nadar was such a close friend that he didn't have to call Karama 'Karama', but 'Tavor'. You had to be close to being a member of the family or more than family to be on the first name basis with another Cardassian, and Nadar was someone who Karama would trust with his life.
So, he waited. He didn't wait patiently, as there was some news he wanted to share with his friend, great news. He had been struggling with this decision for weeks, but finally had made up his mind.
However Nadar was not coming. Karama was tempted to contact him and ask what was going on, but he knew that the Glinn could be busy with his job. He was the chief tactician of the warship and the Cardassian Empire was at war, so his days were filled with planning and preparations.
He could wait. He was a patient man, although... very hungry. Would Nadar mind if he started the supper alone?
He decided to wait a little longer. He drank his fish juice, sitting on a sofa and looking at stars.
A chime. Karama got up from the sofa and went to open the door. He tapped the comm unit on the wall and the door slid open, but it wasn't Nadar in the corridor. Karama stared at the chief engineer's face.
“Glinn Zamarran?” he asked quietly, surprised.
“Let's go inside,” the older Cardassian said and, without waiting for an invitation, entered the quarters.
Karama looked at him confused, but didn't say anything.
“Sit down, Karama,” Zamarran sat on a chair.
The communications officer went back to the sofa and sat too.
“I know you were friends with Glinn Nadar,” Zamarran said slowly.
“That's right,” Karama confirmed, although he knew the engineer didn't need a confirmation.
“I'm waiting for--” he wanted to say: 'I'm waiting for him now', but he realised Zamarran had
used past tense. “'Were'? What happened?”
Zamarran lowered his head, sighed and then looked up at Karama's face.
“We had to kill him,” he said.
“Who?” the younger Cardassian's eyes opened wider.
“Did you know there was a traitor among us? Someone who had been informing the Dominion of everything that was happening on this ship? Someone who had tipped them off and they had sent that Vorta and her dogs to spy on Gul Corak.” Karama could guess where Zamarran was heading and kept shaking his head in disbelief. “Someone who was responsible for Gul Corak's death. Because of that someone Gul Jarol couldn't tell the crew, couldn't tell us
, that she has joined Legate Damar's rebellion, because that someone would bring death to us all.”
“No,” Karama whispered, still slowly shaking his head.
“Nadar had betrayed us. Nadar was the Dominion spy. Gul Jarol found out.”
“Where is his body?”
“There's no body. Glinn Brenok and I took care of it, as per Gul Jarol's orders,” Zamarran silenced.
Karama stopped shaking his head and stared at Zamarran.
“I...” he started. “I wanted to tell him today that I wanted to join the rebellion. I was so disappointed that Gul Jarol didn't join that I was ready to leave the ship to do what was right. I had no idea... She has already done that... And... And if I told Nadar, he would...”
Zamarran smiled sadly.
“I trusted him. He was like a brother to me,” tears pooled in Karama's eyes. He squeezed the mug in his hands so hard that his knuckles turned light grey. “What did you do with his body?”
“We have vaporised it. Gul Jarol didn't want any traces left.”
Karama's breathing became heavier and faster. Suddenly he threw the mug at a wall.
Zamarran didn't even flinch. He just sat there, observing Karama. The communications officer rose and went to the window.
“Gul Jarol issued new orders for you,” Zamarran said. “Special orders, which you are not to discuss with anyone, except her, Glinn Brenok or me.”
“What kind of orders?”
“She wants you to eavesdrop on the Dominion communication. We need to know what they do and what they plan.”
“I will,” he nodded. That's what he wanted to do, that's what he dreamt to do – fight the Dominion, fight the occupiers of his home. He felt guilty he had doubted Gul Jarol's judgement, he should have known better. Of course she would be part of the rebellion, she was Legate Damar's friend, best friend, a real friend, not like Nadar... She would not betray her friend, she would not spy on him for the enemy...
Karama closed his eyes and lowered his head.
Zamarran didn't move. He was sitting on the chair, observing suffering colleague and wishing he could help him. There was nothing worse than betrayal. There was nothing worse than trusting someone and because of that trust to be so close to be executed. If Karama told Nadar of his plans, it would be a matter of days - or maybe even hours - when the Gil would be arrested and executed for treason.
“You saved my life,” Karama said quietly. “If you wouldn't kill him, he would've gotten me killed.”
Zamarran didn't say anything. He observed Karama going to the replicator.
“Would you like some fish juice?” the younger officer asked.
“Please,” the engineer nodded.
The young Cardassian ordered two cups of fish juice, and returned to the sofa. He handed one mug to Zamarran, tucked his legs under him, grabbed his mug and kept it in both of his hands, relishing its warmth.
Zamarran stayed with him whole night. They didn't talk much, but it wasn't a conversation Karama needed. It was friendship. He had irreversibly lost one friend in more ways than one, but he had gained another.