Cardassian Union Warship Damar
Argaya Sector near the Cardassian Union border
24th day of the month of Lukyut, 532, Cardassian Union Calendar
Glinn Karama freed his body from the armour and sat on a sofa with a heavy sigh. He was frustrated. He had just been scolded for a mild reaction to a heavy slur. All he did was to point out that Jeto had a spoon on her forehead too; he didn’t call her a ‘broken nose’ or a ‘superstitious scum’, or anything else, and his range of insults for Bajorans was quite wide, thanks to his father, so he had a handsome choice of phrases. He chose to use none. He just noted that she insulted also herself. But Zamarran wasn’t impressed.
He felt a soft hand below his chin. His wife stood behind him, leaned over and kissed the top of his head. Then she went around the sofa and sat next to him, tugging one of her legs under her. She too took off her armour.
“Lek for your thoughts,” she said.
Karama just shook his head. He didn’t really want to talk about it.
“Some fish juice?” she asked. He shook his head again. She observed him for a while and then said quietly, “I’m sorry for all this.”
“What?” he looked shocked. “Why do you apologise? What do you apologise for?”
“I don’t know. But I feel like... I feel ashamed by their behaviour.”
,” he addressed her using her native language – Bengali - word for ‘beloved, wife’, as he usually did when they were alone, grabbed her hand and squeezed. “You shouldn’t feel bad about their behaviour. You didn’t ask them to behave like this.”
“No, no ‘buts’.”
She didn’t argue. She leaned back on the sofa and leaned her head on the side of his arm. “Do you think we can work with them?” she asked quietly.
Karama felt a ping in his heart. He loved his wife madly, he appreciated the sacrifice and the choice she had made to stay with him in the Union, but he never wanted her to forget who she was and where she came from. He never expected her to give up who she was and transform into a Cardassian. He wondered if after twenty years of living in a foreign empire he would talk about the Cardassians ‘they’.
Or maybe she just meant ‘they’ as ‘the other crew’.
“I don’t know,” he replied. “I really don’t know.”
She took his hand and played with his fingers. “At first...” she started, sighed and went on,” at first I was so happy. I would see some Federation crew, maybe get some news from my old home. I know the Information Bureau gathers information and informs us, but...”
“But it’s not the same as talking to people.”
“Right. So I wanted to meet them, talk to them, gossip a little. Bring old jokes. But they were so... cold.” She sat and looked in his face. “I wonder if the Federation is always that cold to others. Or only to the Cardassians. I never had that impression when I had been one of them. But it felt so strange to be on the other side, on the receiving side.” She silenced for a moment. “I am not sure I like what I’ve seen today,” she admitted, tears filling her eyes. “I was raised in a place where prejudice and injustice are supposed to be eliminated from people’s hearts. And maybe they are, but only for other members of the Federation. It doesn’t apply to anyone else. That Jeto... the way she was looking at me, the way she was looking at you
!” She moved closer to him and nestled her head on his shoulder. He hugged her, leaning his chin on the top of her head.
“I feared it would be difficult for you,” he said softly. “I feared they would treat you badly, because you’d chosen to live with us. I don’t care what they think of me. It doesn’t matter if I did anything or not, they have their opinions anyway. But you don’t deserve to be accused of anything. And you shouldn’t face a choice between them or us.”
“I’ve made that choice.”
“Yes. But I don’t want you to feel like you have to prove your loyalty to me, us or them. And sometimes you would have to make the same choice over and over again. At that dinner... they expected you to be on their side. You tried so hard to stay on ours or at least be neutral.”
“And I failed.”
“I don’t think there was a right thing you could have said. Someone still would be unhappy.”
“The Federation Captain can be unhappy all he wants.”
He knew what she meant. She would go against her own opinion not to anger Zamarran or Brenok. She had to serve on this ship and expressing unwelcome point of view would have to have some consequences.
“What do you think about Legate Damar?” he asked.
“I don’t know what to think,” she said. “I know how the Cardassians see him. How important he is for you. I still hear people saying ‘what Damar would think? What Damar would do?’ when they face a tough choice. But I also remember how it was during the war. He led your people to battle to kill my people. He was ruthless and cruel. If not the Breen he could not have gone to the other side. The Federation doesn’t remember him as a hero. He did the right thing in the end, but before that end he was a ‘bad guy’ for us and for many people still is. You had a proof during that darn dinner tonight.”
“I asked what you think, not what the Federation thinks.”
She silenced. “I don’t know what I think,” she said finally. He growled. “Honestly, I don’t. I know that if he wouldn’t make you switch sides the allied forces would be sooner or later doomed. But does that make everything else right? No, I don’t think so.”
Karama didn’t say anything. He didn’t push, he just accepted her limited answer, even if he wasn’t satisfied with it. He wondered if she never thought about it so she didn’t have an opinion, or just didn’t want to tell him. He knew that she knew that she could tell him honestly. They had had enough of rocky conversations to learn how to deal with their differences, so they could talk openly now.
“I’ll have that fish juice,” he said. “Could you please bring me some?” She got up and went to the replicator. “Are you in the team tomorrow?” he asked.
“Yes. I got the information earlier today,” he returned with two mugs and handed him one with fish juice. He smelled cocoa from hers – he never developed taste for it, but he enjoyed the odour. “Glinn Ya’val, Gil Ma’Kan, Glen Dole and I beam to the vessel. It’s going to be the first time for me to wear a Cardassian EVA suit.”
“Maybe you should ask the Feddies to lend you one of theirs?” he smiled.
“I survived wearing the armour for fifteen years, I can survive an EVA suit for a few hours.”
“Be careful,” he said softly – not meaning EVA suit.
“I will be,” she moved her mug closer to his nose to let him sniff and then sipped on it.
He observed her, noticing a few silver hairs among her black locks and thought that she looked so fragile.