Zamarran understood Brenok's need to stay aboard the warm warship and accepted his task to represent the Cardassians during this dinner, but he wished Brenok were here and carried this difficult task himself for Brenok was much better in contacts with other people, including non-Cardassians, than Zamarran. However at this very moment he was happy that Brenok wasn't there. He knew that his Gul had lost his daughter, his wife, his mother, his father, his siblings, cousins, uncles, aunts – the list could go on – in the Lakarian City Massacre; for a Cardassian to have no family was an unbelievable pain. If Brenok heard Jeto's unimaginably cruel words... Zamarran had no idea how the Gul would react, but he was sure the reaction would be vehement. Gul Brenok was rather a composed person, but there were matters which easily made his blood boil. This was one of them.
Zamarran squinted at Jeto and then said in an even, calm, but cold voice. “Please, present me with at least one argument why a child that hadn't been even born at the time of the occupation was guilty to deserve to be murdered by the Jem'Hadar.” The Bajoran ribs on her nose and her earring left no doubt what she was accusing the Cardassians of.
All eyes turned to Jeto. She was breathing fast. “No, no! You, you
,” she pointed her crooked finger at him, “tell me why my mother deserved what that soldier did to her!”
“She didn't,” the Glinn said in a soft but firm voice. “She didn't and no one else did.”
Jeto clearly didn't expect such an answer. She stared at Zamarran, her eyes shiny with anger and indignation, but her breath slowing down. He scrutinised her features, wondering how much suffering she had to experience looking at her own face in a mirror. She clearly hated them and didn't even try to hide it. He has never been to Bajor, no one from the Damar current crew has – most of the crew was too young – but for her it didn't matter, did it? In her eyes they all were guilty.
“Your ship,” she obviously wasn't finished, “carries a name of a murderer! He killed someone like me!”
Ma'Kan dropped her fork and stared hard at Jeto.
“What did you say?” Ya'val whispered, but in the sudden silence his voice appeared loud and clear.
“How dare you!” Karama growled menacingly.
“Please, please,” Ronus rose from his seat, spreading his hands. “Please, let's drop this subject.”
“She owes us apologies first,” Ya'val hissed.
Ronus looked at Zamarran, but the Glinn had no intentions of letting it go just like that. He ignored the Commander and addressed Jeto: “Legate Damar was our hero. If not him, there would be no Cardassia. And I'll tell you something. There would be no your precious Federation. The Dominion would destroy us, and then you. You owe him as much as we do.”
“That's an interesting interpretation of history,” Ha'varra said. “Quite colourful, I might add. What do you think about it?” he asked Kapoor.
She was caught off guard. “Me?” she glanced at Zamarran, then at Karama and then back at Ha'varra. “I know how the Cardassians feel about Legate Damar. I know how important he is for them. He is Cardassia's national hero and because of that he is idealised. But so are Federation heroes. Sins forgotten, victories emphasised. It's not my place to judge him. It's not my place to express my opinion.”
“How diplomatic of you,” Fong snorted.
“Whatever Legate Damar had to do, he did it for a reason,” Ma'Kan's voice was firm. “I don't care what problems you have with yourself,” she looked at Jeto. “I don't like you blame us all for them.”
“How dare you!”
Ma'Kan jumped to her feet. She was young and Zamarran understood where her indignation was coming from. Her adult life fell on post-war years and she didn't remember times when Damar was only a Glinn and Gul Dukat's adjutant and later a powerless puppet in the Dominion hands. What she remembered was his rise to the rebellion and a hero's death. No one on Cardassia would be arrested for talking foul about Damar, but they surely wouldn't make many friends and wouldn't be invited to many parties. Ma'Kan belonged to that passionate group of people who believed that Damar's memory should not be spoiled. And being Gul Jarol's, who was Damar's close friend, protégé only strengthened her passion.
“Tell me, Bajoran,” she practically spat the word, “how many women did I
rape during the annexation?” she hissed with hatred.
“Spoonhead!” Jeto yelled straight in Ma'Kan's face.
The Cardassian tactician roared and her arm made a wide swing with her fist swiftly moving toward Jeto's face to... be fended off by another armoured arm.
Ya'val was quick enough to prevent what was just about to happen. Ma'Kan didn't seem like she wanted to give up, so Zamarran decided it was time to intervene.
“Enough!” his voice filled the room and echoed from the bulkheads. The tactician looked at him with fiery eyes, but she submissively sat.
“You crossed the line, Lieutenant!” th'Arshar's voice wasn't as raspy as Zamarran's, but was as strong.
“You have it too,” Karama muttered, staring at his plate but it was obvious to everyone that his words were directed to Jeto.
“Karama,” Zamarran said menacingly. The communication officer cast him an angry glance and his eyes returned to his plate.
“Perhaps it would be better if we call it a day,” Ronus said.
“No,” the Glinn replied. “Captain,” he looked at th'Arshar. “We are two different crews and such incidents might be unavoidable. If we are to co-operate we have to find a way to control ourselves. Or learn that we can't control it before we waste our time and resources.” He looked at all present. “So we will stay here, finish this good food and try to behave like civilised people and not wild Klingon targs.”
“And no more talks about politics,” th'Arshar added.
Awkward silence hanged over them for a while, until Kapoor said. “I can see the Federation uniforms didn't change much.”
“No, but our communicators work better now,” Fong replied and the silence's weight lost a few tonnes.
“I'm sorry for Jeto,” th'Arshar said quietly to Zamarran, when the shimmer of talks again filled the room.
“I understand where her anger comes from,” the Cardassian replied. “But she must understand that not all of us are monsters. We must control our crews or you can leave the region and go on with your research of space.”
“You seem to forget that it was us who had found that vessel.”
“You seem to forget that the vessel is a Cardassian property and in Cardassian space,” Zamarran countered.
The Andorian looked at him for a moment and after a while, without saying a word, he returned his attention to his food.
Zamarran had no idea how he would file a report about this evening. Should he also include the ‘s’ word that Jeto had used? In a Cardassian report?