Argaya Sector near the Cardassian Union border
9th of September, 2396, Old Earth Calendar
“Captain,” Lieutenant Commander Farr looked at th’Arshar. “They ignore our hails.”
“Why am I not surprised?” the Andorian muttered to himself, rolling his eyes. Then he added louder, “Keep hailing them, Commander. We can’t force them to talk to us but we can be bothersome.”
“Sir?” Av’Roo turned to look at her captain.
“Don’t even comment that, Lieutenant.”
Th’Arshar was confused and angry. The mysterious Cardassian ship disappeared and he had no answers from the Cardassians. Did they make it disappear? He had had a short conversation with Gul Brenok but the Cardassian hadn’t been forthcoming. He either didn’t have any answers and didn’t want to admit that or he didn’t want to share his knowledge. That way or another, th’Arshar knew nothing.
He felt a strong temptation to use a few colourful metaphors but he knew it wouldn’t be appropriate on the bridge. “Do the scans tell us anything?” he looked at Av’Roo. She shook her head.
What was going on?
“Sir,” Farr’s ears perked up. “We are being hailed by the Cardassians.”
“More evading answers, no doubt. On screen, Commander.”
Th’Arshar expected to see Brenok’s face but the viewer was filled with Zamarran’s grey scales and ridges.
,” the glinn greeted the Andorian.
“Glinn Zamarran,” th’Arshar hoped his voice sounded politely.
“We have gathered some information we’d like to share and ask if you have something to share too, perhaps.
” Th’Arshar nodded, encouraging Zamarran to continue. “We have determined that the ‘disappearance’ of the vessel can be explained by a Romulan cloak
“Correct. We are in contact with our team aboard the vessel. They have informed us that there is limited power available. They have disabled security protocols so it should be safe for your team to beam there too, should you choose to do it, however we’d like to make sure this is the case before letting you aboard. Our team is unable to drop the cloak. They don’t know the reason. According to our engineer it appears as if someone overrides his commands.
” Suddenly Zamarran silenced. He knitted his eye ridges and turned his head to look at someone; he didn’t say a word, though. The captain patiently waited for the glinn to resume but he felt as if the seconds dragged into years. Zamarran turned his body to look at Gul Brenok, whom th’Arshar could see in the background in his command chair now. Brenok only nodded to Zamarran and the glinn turned back to the camera and looked at th’Arshar. “We have just received a very strange thing
,” he said. He paused for a moment, thinking about the last thing he had been saying before he was interrupted, and then continued, “We would like to ask you if you know anything about Romulan cloaking devices. Our knowledge in this matter is very limited.
“Why would we know?” Th’Arshar was disappointed that Zamarran didn’t share the ‘strange thing’ with him.
“You are Romulan allies, are you not?
“Not really, Glinn Zamarran. We had a common enemy,” th’Arshar panicked; it wasn’t the best thing to say, was it? How could he be so stupid? To his relief Zamarran didn’t react to his words in any way. “Now, that the enemy is gone, we are no longer...friends.”
“Maybe you should ask someone from your Obsidian Order? They were closer to the Romulan cloaking devices then anyone in the Federation,” th’Arshar said... And again regretted his words as soon as they left his mouth, not only because they were a lie.
“Unfortunately former Obsidian Order agents usually aren’t forthcoming with any information
,” Zamarran said. Must be a Cardassian trait
, th’Arshar thought bitterly but was wise enough not to speak out loud this time. “We have one important figure serving his time in prison but I doubt he would share anything. We will ask him, of course, but I wouldn’t count on getting any answers.
“Prison?” Th’Arshar’s white eyebrows raised.
“For atrocities committed against Cardassian citizens when he had been in service of that criminal organisation
,” the glinn explained.
If it were possible, th’Arshar’s eyebrows would travel higher at this revelation.
“I will try to find some useful information, Glinn,” the captain said. “I can’t promise much but we will try.”
Zamarran nodded. “And now for the new piece of information
,” he said, surprising the Andorian again; th’Arshar was sure he’d have to ask about it. “A moment ago we have received a message. It was attached to our comm beam. It said ‘help us’
“We know nothing more, Captain. We keep the channel open to be in constant contact with our people, who are currently trapped aboard that cloaked ship, and the message was transferred on that channel. It was coded but we managed to decode it. It wasn’t sent by our team. We don’t know who sent it. It could be an automatic message, but...
” Zamarran’s voice trailed off.
“You doubt it,” th’Arshar finished. “And so do I.”
Zamarran nodded. “We have more and more mysteries on our hands, Captain. And no answers.
“So I’ve noticed.”
“I’m sorry for keeping you in dark for such a long time, but we have a heated situation here and couldn’t answer your hail.
“I understand,” th’Arshar nodded. At that very moment he didn’t care if Zamarran told him the real reason, he appreciated the politeness. “We will get back to you with any information we are going to find.”
“Thank you, Captain. I’ll assign an officer who would be responsible for keeping you informed and sending you the reports on our progress.
“A wonderful idea. I’ll do the same.”
Zamarran smiled and signed off.
“That was nice,” Fong commented.
“Maybe he just wants something,” Jeto said. “He wants to prepare the ground and then ask for it or just demand
“Maybe,” th’Arshar agreed but his voice lacked certainty. “But let’s not spoil this lovely moment. Av’Roo, dig into the database. Fong, ask Starfleet Command if we can share what we know about the Defiant’s
Cardassian Union Warship Damar
Argaya Sector near the Cardassian Union border
25th day of the month of Lukyut, 532, Cardassian Union Calendar
Zamarran signed off and looked up at Brenok. The gul was tapping his fingers on his chair’s armrests. His lips were pursed and eyes squinted. Zamarran knew what it meant. He also knew he had to deal with it and he didn’t look forward to that. However he had been given an order, hadn’t he?
He approached the gul’s chair. “Sir, can we talk in private?” Brenok shot him a glance and ignored him. Did he know what Zamarran intended? “Sir, I am under orders,” the glinn emphasised.
Brenok audibly let the air out, got up and headed for the office. “What?!” he snapped when the door closed behind them.
“You have ordered me to act the next time you’d lose control. This is the time.”
Brenok’s eyes shone with rage. For a moment Zamarran thought the gul would strike him but then Brenok’s face expression changed. Tears appeared in his eyes. His bit his lower lips and put his hand on Zamarran’s shoulder. The glinn mirrored the gesture and smiled slightly. “I hope no ugly words were said this time?”
Brenok shook his head with grim expression. “There were ugly words and the fact he couldn’t hear them doesn’t change the fact that everyone on the bridge did.”
Zamarran knew it looked simple but he was sure it wasn’t easy for Brenok. The gul had to be still angry with whatever made him that mad but he tried to control it now. He knew he had to control it, because he just had been told how uncontrolled his behaviour was. The glinn had seen it twice so far; he had witnessed Brenok’s wild fury and its symptoms, he had also witnessed Brenok’s stings of remorse after both incidents. The young gul couldn’t forgive himself his words—his anger never crossed the line of physical violence—and felt guilty for weeks. He never shared with Zamarran what he had been thinking during the critical events, but the glinn was sure that part of Brenok’s conscience was paying also for the things that had not been spoken out loud but they did exist in the gul’s head.
“Do you need a break?” Zamarran asked.
“No, that won’t be necessary. Let’s go back to the bridge.”
They returned to the command centre. Zamarran went to his post, but Brenok didn’t sit in his chair. He stood in the middle of the bridge and said, “I would like everyone’s attention for a moment.” When all eyes turned to him he continued, “I want to apologise for my behaviour earlier. It was unacceptable and I have no excuse for it.” He silenced. He opened his mouth a few times but didn’t speak. Zamarran sighed quietly. He knew how Brenok felt; he knew that the gul could not find words that would sufficiently express his regret.
“We understand, Gul,” Karama said quietly.
Brenok flashed him a warm and grateful smile and Zamarran was sure that Karama was one of Brenok’s targets. His forgiveness meant a lot to Brenok. It wouldn’t annihilate his remorse but it would help him deal with it.
The glinn made a mental note to talk to the gul later that day. He wanted to know what had triggered Brenok’s fury; those explosions didn’t happen without a reason.
“There is one more thing,” Brenok said. “You know very well I would not allow any of you to use the...vocabulary I have used. Your gul is not above the law or above the decency; you should not allow me to use such slurs either. In the future, if I...start again, please notify Glinn Zamarran immediately. He would deal with me.” He looked at Zamarran who nodded his head with a serious face expression. The glinn resisted the urge to smile; Brenok didn’t need leniency right now, he needed someone who would firmly chastise him. As strange as it seemed to Zamarran, he sometimes had to be his own gul’s father figure.
Brenok looked in each and every officer’s face and then returned to his seat. “Let’s get our people back from that ship before they ran out of air in their tanks,” he said in a commanding voice. His aide, though, was sure the strength if his speech was only covering his shaken soul.
Zamarran called Gil Tari and informed him of his new task: to prepare full reports for the Federation captain and keep th’Arshar informed. Then the glinn’s attention returned to his console on which he was preparing his own summary of the day for the warship’s log.
“Sir,” Sabal approached Brenok and stood to his right. “I could try to contact a few former colleagues who used to work in Orias System. I cannot promise it would help but I can at least try.”
Brenok looked at him. Zamarran observed the gul’s face and, to his surprise, he couldn’t read it. “Is there any risk for you?” the gul asked.
“Could you get into trouble by asking risky questions?”
“Not if I use a secured channel.”
“No, Sabal. You’ve said it yourself, you don’t know if you would succeed in acquiring any information. The risk is too high. I don’t want you to have a mysterious and deadly accident as soon as we return to Cardassia. Not for asking questions to which most likely no one would give you answers. Request denied.”
“Yes, sir,” Sabal appeared clearly disappointed. He was just about to move away and return to his post when Brenok stopped him.
“Sabal, don’t prove your loyalty to me by risking your life,” the gul said quietly. Zamarran had a feeling something had happened between these two when he was off the bridge in the engineering. “Not foolishly
risking your life.”
The gul’s aide grinned slightly—he knew Gil Kapoor called this grin ‘a smile without a smile’--whatever had been the problem, Sabal was forgiven and so was Brenok.
“Are we still on
?” came Ya’val’s voice over the comm channel.
“Indeed you are, Glinn,” Brenok replied.
“Uh, sorry, sir. I thought only Glinn Karama was lis--
“What’s on your mind, Glinn?” Brenok asked.
“That message, sir. Someone asks here for help. Let’s promise them that help.
“Let’s reply to that message. I can’t do anything here, sir. We have arrived to another door with another secured wallcomm and this door appears to be well prepared against curious officers with cutting tools. It could be the main bridge. But we won’t get inside. And I don’t think Glen Dole wants to spend a night here.
” Was Ya’val grinning? His voice sure sounded like he was.
“I’m not a coward!
” Dole protested.
“No one claims you are, Glen.” Zamarran was relieved to see that Brenok’s mood improved. Nothing sounded better than your officers teasing each other in a friendly manner. “Zamarran, what do you think?”
The glinn didn’t expect to be ask for his opinion. “We can try. I hope it won’t end tragically for our team there. Glinn Ya’val,” he said louder to make sure the microphones would pick his voice. “How much oxygen do you have left?”
A moment of silence and then the chief engineer replied, “One hour twenty minutes