She went to the adjacent chamber of the infirmary and pressed her wristcomm. She ordered the warship's chief engineer, Glinn Zamarran, to study the transporter logs for multi-universal travel or anything that could suggest a beam from a parallel reality. If the engineer was surprised by her unusual request, there was no sign of it in his voice.
In the meantime Taret raised his hand, indicating he wanted to say something. Brenok nodded and then both the medic and the glinn looked at their unusual guest, waiting for his permission.
“I'd like to ask about that implant,” his hand motioned behind his own right ear. “This is technology unknown to us, so I am not sure what its function is. Is there anything you need done with it? Is it there because you need it or because it was forced upon you? Could it have anything to do with your accident?” He went silent for a moment and then added, “If none of the answers are relevant to your current situation and there is no reason to be concerned about it, you can refuse to answer. I just want to make sure you are safe.”
Just how different
are our worlds?
Dukat wondered. Before the invasion, pharmaceutical implants such as his had been, if not a common technology, well known enough that most people had at least heard of it. Given the invasiveness of the surgery required to install one, it was no doctor’s first preference—but for those who did require one, sometimes a literal lifesaver. Now, after so many years, it felt far less like a foreign object and more like a part of his own body, albeit an inorganic part, and he could reload and calibrate it himself without even the slightest thought to the unusual sensation that went with it. Some of this had to do with the way his own skin and bone had knit themselves into the implant itself, a technique Cardassian doctors used to allow the implant to come through the skin where necessary without the risk of opening a wound that could lead to infection.
Though Taret had given him the option to refuse, the fact that he had probably wound up with a concussion from the attack convinced Dukat to explain, just in case the medical officer needed the understanding to treat his injury. “I doubt it would have had anything to do with what’s happened; I don’t see how that would be possible.” Dukat mused. “It’s a medical device—I’ve had it, or one like it, since I was thirteen. Its function is…to treat a chemical imbalance. I am able to inject my medicine when I can’t get the type that my implant requires, but when it’s working…as it should be now…it’s able to take real-time readings and determine the absolute minimum of medication that I require at any given time. Even the injectable medications are quite effective—they don’t have the side effects they would have even a few centuries ago—but the idea is to use as little as possible, so that it doesn’t hinder natural thoughts. Or emotions.”
“I see.” Taret nodded. “I agree, I don't think it had anything to do with the accident. However, if you need anything, if your pain gets worse, let me know.”
Jarol, who had finished her talk with the chief engineer, stood in the door to the other chamber. “I have arranged quarters for you,” she said. “A place where you'll be safe and undisturbed. I'd rather have the infirmary available in case of emergency, especially since it may take a while to find a way to send you back to your home and family.”
There were so many questions she wanted to ask and they weren't about Bajorans any more. She knew this Dukat didn't know her. Did it mean she didn't exist there? Or just that their paths had never crossed. Was his family the same as Gul Dukat's here? Was...was Damar there? Alive? If she was there…were her children still alive? How different was that world from her own? Her mind was full of question marks, but she didn't dare to voice any of them. “Are you hungry?” she asked instead. “I can have some food sent to your quarters.”
Dukat considered. “I have no idea what time it is here, but it was the middle of the night…at home.” And even if they knew what time it was in the Desert of Kurab—assuming they knew it by that name...Brenok hadn’t recognized Revakian. True, Revakian wasn’t a city on the order of Lakarian or Culat, but it was well known on his Cardassia. What had happened on this world, in its history, to change things so drastically? All of it just served to emphasize further how isolated he was from everything he knew. Except for Oralius
, he reminded himself. “More than anything, I am tired.” That said, after everything that had happened…he didn’t want to insult the gul by refusing her hospitality. Despite her reassurances, he already felt like he’d done so once already. “Still…you wouldn’t happen to have some fish juice, would you?” Perhaps in the morning his stomach could handle more.
She smiled. “Now that
is something we do have in common.” She nodded to Brenok, who rose and went to the medic's office. A moment later he reappeared with a steaming mug of fish juice and handed it to Dukat.
“We will go to your quarters now, where you can rest. Glinn Brenok will prepare a commlink for you,” the gul said for Dukat's benefit and for Brenok's. “It's going to be a direct connection to Medic Taret, Glinn Brenok, and me, in case you need anything.”
“Don't hesitate to call me any time of the day,” Taret interjected.
“Brenok, go and check if the corridor is clear.”
The glinn nodded and left the infirmary. Taret took the emptied mug from Dukat's hands and put it away, but stayed close by to make sure their guest was strong enough to stand and walk.
“Shall we?” Jarol gestured to the door and they both moved in its direction.
“Any time you need!” Taret said after them, and they left the infirmary.
“We need to take the lift. Your quarters are close to Brenok's and mine,” she explained. “You should have everything you need there. The computer voice recognition won't work; it's for your own safety. The commlink will be the only working device, so if you need anything, call any of us. Bathroom facilities can be operated manually. Any questions?”
No voice recognition…yet another oddity. It suggested that the systems in his quarters were to be isolated from the core. If it were a matter of blocking his access to the database, firewalls and encryption would be sufficient for that. This level of isolation suggested that they were concerned about someone using the connection to trace him
. Moreover, voice and identity were so interwoven in a technological society that a mere word from the wrong person would be enough to spring a trap; even areas without cameras very often weren’t safe from voice sensors. That was one of the reasons that under certain circumstances, he chose not to speak at all, relying instead on sign.
How could he phrase this without casting aspersions on his hosts’ diligence? “Is there some danger to us?” he asked. Something that I am somehow responsible for?
“No, no danger.” She tried to smile reassuringly. “But the replicator wouldn't work for you, because you have no rations assigned—we need to ration our resources, for we are not rich people—and our computer access is restricted to particular clearance levels for each crewmember. Since you are not a crewmember at all, I don't think the computer would allow you to do much.” The fact was the computer wouldn't allow him to do anything and would notify security, but he didn't have to know that. It wasn't him
that security would really want. She didn't want to scare him again by giving him unnecessary, disturbing information.
She stopped in front of the lift doors and waited for the car to arrive. Once the door opened she invited Dukat to enter first; then she followed him. Finally they arrived to the quarters to see Brenok waiting outside.
“I took the liberty of replicating fresh clothing for you,” he said. “It's not as elegant as what you’re currently wearing, but it's clean.” He stepped aside, pressed the door comm and the doors swooshed open. “Here.” The glinn handed Dukat a wristcomm. “You just press and call one of us if you need anything.”
Dukat nodded as he accepted the wristcomm. It looked fairly similar to the one Akellen had brought with him, though in accordance with this entire other universe, it looked…updated somehow. He was sure he could figure it out with little trouble…especially since Glinn Brenok seemed to be gesturing at the right button already. “I understand the need to ration the replicator—that’s something I have to do at home as well. I hunt when I can to reduce the power drain.” That, and the fact that any rematerialization device was sufficiently powerful to be visible to a tricorder that came too close, and leaving the replicator powered for too long could draw unwanted attention to their base. “I have no wish to abuse your resources. And I thank you,” he replied with a bow: literally, bless you
Jarol simply nodded and turned on her heel, but Brenok bowed and said, “May Oralius lead your way.”
The door closed and Brenok faced Jarol's astonished expression. “What did you just say to him?” she asked.
“That's how the Oralians bid each other farewell…well, our Oralians, at least. I don't know if it's different where he comes from.”
“Uhm,” she muttered. “Let's go; I want to know what Zamarran has discovered and I need your expertise too.”
They headed for the engineering. Zamarran worked with Aladar in the science chamber, which technically belonged to the engineering section, as there was no separate science department on the warship.
“Glinn?” Jarol said by way of greeting. The engineer looked up and nodded to her.
“I took the liberty of asking Garesh Aladar to assist me. Since he already knows about everything, and more than I, it would appear, there was no breach of secrecy,” Zamarran explained. He was a tall man with a stern face, twenty years older than the ship's second-in-command and almost ten older than his gul.
“Do you need any more help?” Jarol asked, approaching the table over which Zamarran had been leaning when they entered.
“I don't think any Cardassian has experience with this kind of events...but I was thinking...” He hesitated. Jarol nodded, encouraging him to continue. “Maybe one of our exchange officers could add some unique ideas to the whole project. What I know so far is that Garesh Aladar beamed aboard a man, instead of cases with food and other materials. The man's biological signature seems to be off, like he was displaced in time or in space in an unusual way. I compared the reading with our database and received a very interesting result.” Oh, no
, Jarol thought. He knows
. “His body still resonates with some strange power signature and I find it quite disturbing, because the closest thing to it, that we know of, is a Bajoran Orb.”
“An Orb? Those devices they use to have their visions?” Jarol asked to make sure she understood correctly.
“That's right,” Zamarran confirmed.
“He said he was fighting a Bajoran when this happened,” Brenok pointed out.
Gul Jarol went silent, trying to digest all the strange things they were telling her. “All right,” she said with resolve in her voice. “Zamarran, get Kapoor to help you, but keep her knowledge limited. Make it look like theoretical study, if possible. She must not
know what has really happened.” The last thing she wanted was to inform the Federation officer on her warship that a copy of Gul Dukat was there. “And keep working. Aladar.” The garesh looked at her, squaring his shoulders. “You'll stay here and offer any assistance you can.”
He nodded. “Yes, gul.”
“I'll stay too,” Brenok offered.
“Very well. He is resting now, so you have a few hours, but I want to give him some good news when he wakes up.” And I want it myself too
, she thought, but didn't say it aloud.