Cardassian Union Warship Damar
Argaya Sector near the Cardassian Union border
25-26th day of the month of Lukyut, 532, Cardassian Union Calendar
Sabal felt like zabou
shit. He disappointed his gul and after that he made himself an overeager fool in front of his gul. What a perfect day! To die...
Ma’Kan had invited him to a dinner with her and Ya’val, but Sabal didn’t feel like joining their cheerful company and the last thing he wanted to do was to spoil their moods. He also didn’t feel like eating. He was sitting at his dining table and staring at his—already cold—food. He haven’t even touched it; he was playing with the fork in his fingers but the cutlery haven’t had any contact with his meal.
He put the fork away, leaned his elbows on the table and hid his face in his palms. He wished he knew how to cry; maybe tears would help him.
He felt guilty. How could he go to have dinner with Ma’Kan and Ya’val if he hid important information from them. He should have told them: ‘this is an Obsidian Order experimental ship, be extremely careful!’ Would they be more careful than they had been in fact? Maybe. Probably. But he chose—he chose!
—not to tell anyone and they were in danger. He should have told Gul Brenok. The Obsidian Order didn’t exist any more and being its member was not something a Cardassian should be proud of. He certainly wasn’t. Back then he had thought that he had been doing the right thing. He wanted to help Cardassia, he wanted to serve Cardassia. And they wanted to use his piloting skills. At least they didn’t have him torture anyone. He was just a pilot, a stupid pilot, nothing more.
So why did he feel so badly now? So guilty? So sorry? An investigation had proved he didn’t harm anyone, neither directly nor indirectly; he had his life back and could do with it as he pleased. He chose to join the military and continue his service to the Cardassian Union. Torturers, those few who hadn’t gone with Tain’s mad expedition to the Gamma Quadrant and hadn’t died there, were now rotting in prisons in Kraness—the coldest and nastiest continent on Cardassia Prime.
But what is a man if he doesn’t keep once given word? He’s not a man any more, he’s something worse than a splash of zabou
He decided to volunteer to join the scientific group. He knew nothing of this ship, but maybe there would be things with which he could help. Something could trigger his memory, perhaps? Bring to the light things he had overheard and memorised and didn’t realise it right now?
Would Gul Brenok trust him? He had been really furious with Sabal for hiding the information.
The gil felt like a splash of zabou
Brenok laid on his back, observing black tails of nasty thoughts sailing in the air above his head. He was frustrated and disappointed in himself. He was a bad commander and a bad man. That day he had treated his own crew like trash and his most trusted men like children. He used vulgar language and had hideous thoughts.
A lonely tear found its way out of the corner of his eye and slid into his eye ridge.
“What has happened to you, Arenn?” Brenok asked himself. “Did the Klingon do that to you? Or the Jem’Hadar?”
No, that would be too easy. To blame someone else. Whatever they had done, they were gone. He was here, now. And he was...this! He didn’t like ‘this’, didn’t like it at all.
He wished he could talk to Jarol, he wished he could cry in her arms. He felt lonely. He missed the close relationship he and Jarol had aboard the Roumar
; they were not only a gul and her aide, they were friends. Zamarran was helpful, supportive and a wonderful aide, but he would never, ever cross the line of the tradition—your gul is your gul, not a pal. Brenok didn’t care for that tradition. He could talk to Zamarran about almost everything, he could go for an advice, but there were things he couldn’t do. He couldn’t open his heart. He couldn’t have a healthy cry in his presence. He couldn’t appear weak. He had to be Zamarran’s gul. He couldn’t be just a
And now all he wanted—all he needed—was to be only a Cardassian. Nothing more. No armour. No warship. Only scales and shame.
He got up and went to the bathroom. He splashed his face with cold water and looked at his reflection in the mirror. “This was nothing personal, Captain,” he said. “It could be anyone else. It could be Karama and my hand on his head. Sabal and my fingers on his throat.”
He closed his eyes. He saw Zamarran’s face in his mind’s eye. Zamarran’s lips moved and he said: ‘This is the time’. Another flush of shame went through Brenok’s conscience. The young Cardassian lowered himself to the deck and curled up on the bathroom’s floor.
“Computer, lower the temperature by ten degrees,” he said. Computer acknowledged the order with a beep.
Zamarran at first wasn’t sure what had happened. Then he realised that it had been the computer that had woken him up. He checked his chronometer—it was shortly after 4 am.
“Computer, repeat the last message,” he demanded in a sleepy, raspy voice.
“A connection with the weather broadcast can be established
,” the computer said.
“What time is currently in Lakat?”
“Twenty-two hundred seventeen hours
Zamarran got off his bed. “Establish connection with Legate Jarol's house.”
“Unable to comply
“Emergency protocol. Authorisation protocol Zamarran, T. G. Blue.”
The first expression on Legate Jarol's face was surprise, then worry.
“What has happened?
” she asked. The picture was grainy and the sound was a little distorted, but the connection was good enough for effective communication.
It didn't occur to Zamarran that she could assume that he was contacting her because something happened to Brenok. The last thing he wanted to do was to scare her. “Nothing, Legate. I just wanted to make sure Gul Brenok gets your message as soon as possible. Your previous connection’s quality was insufficient and he could not make anything useful of it.”
Zamarran couldn’t recall if he had ever seen Jarol in civilian clothes, which in fact meant he had never seen her in civilian clothes. Her hair surrounded her face like a shiny black helo, giving her a lovely ethereal look. She wore a light blue dress, which exposed her neck ridges but in a modest way. The sharp, clear ridges on her face were casting soft shadows on her scaled skin. The glinn never thought that way about his former commander but now he was astonished by her beauty.
“Thank you, Zamarran,
” she said. “What time is it there?
” she eyed his sleeping suit.
He smiled sheepishly. “Four in the morning.”
She gave him a look of admiration and then quietly said. “You are a good aide, Glinn Zamarran.
” He smiled in thanks for the complement. “Now, please patch me through to Gul Brenok.
“Yes, Legate.” He hoped Brenok’s sleep wouldn’t be too deep not to be woken up by the incoming transmission; somehow, however, he thought that Brenok wouldn’t be sleeping at all.
Brenok was laying on the bathroom’s floor, shivering, when he heard an incoming comm signal. He didn’t move; he suspected it had to be something important since it was such an ungodly hour but he didn’t move. The signal was stubborn, though, so he finally got up and went to the main room to answer it and scold the caller if necessary.
Her face was the most wonderful view in his life. “Atira...” he whispered.
“You look terrible,
” she was clearly distressed by the state he was in.
“I’m much better now.”
She observed him for a moment and then said. “What is wrong?
“Nothing. Atira, you tried to tell me something earlier today. Yesterday my time. What was it?”
“I had three news, two bad and one good, so--
“Start from the news about Latana.”
She smiled. “This morning she had been taken to a hospital. It was a bit prematurely, but she is now a proud mom of two little boys.
Brenok felt like a huge rock was taken off of his chest. “Why now? It wasn’t the time yet.”
“Her medic said that it’s because the babies are twins. But all three of them are fine. Latana will return home tomorrow.
” Laran’s head popped up from behind Jarol.
“Hi, Laran,” the gul replied. He was just about to ask ‘how’s school’, but shoved the words back into his throat before his mouth spoke them. He hated that question when he was a kid; being young doesn’t mean that there is nothing except school in your life. “Found a girlfriend, yet?” he asked instead.
Laran only flashed a smile at Brenok and disappeared from the screen.
“Now, tell me about the two bad news.”
Jarol’s face lost its warm expression as she frowned. “The True Way is active again.
“No,” Brenok feared the worst. The True Way had attempted to assassinate Legate Daset and Daset’s name did appear in Jarol’s previous message.
“I’m afraid so. There was fourth attempt on Daset’s life. He survived, but his condition is critical. Stable but critical.
” She shook her head. “I don’t know if we ever manage to catch those bastards.
“But he’s going to make it?”
“We don’t know yet, but medics say he should be fine.
Brenok sighed. “And the other bad news?”
“We have results of the referendum.
“The public has refused Doctor Galtet’s candidature.
“What? She seemed perfect for this position! She has been working with Legate Jotrel for seven years. She has two degrees in economical sciences. She’s better qualified than Jotrel himself! Why did they refuse?”
“I think the people don’t want Jotrel to step down. They trust him and they trust that he won’t allow the Ferengi to cheat him.
“Do you have any other candidates?”
She shook her head. “No one else is qualified. And if the citizens refused to accept most qualified people then I don’t think they would accept less qualified ones.
“So what are you going to do?”
“We don’t know. You know that it’s against the law to impose a legate without the public’s acceptance, so we can’t forcefully replace Legate Jotrel with Gul Zenti or Doctor Galtet. Jotrel has to stay for now. And believe me, he’s not happy about it.
“How is his wife?”
Brenok sighed. “Give them my regards.”
“I will. And now... go to sleep. Please.
“Let me know when Latana is back home. I’d want to talk to her.’
“I will. Sleep. Now. Order. Mine. To you.
“Yes, Legate,” he smiled.
“Computer, restore the temperature to the standard levels,” he said.
Brenok returned to his bed. He was relieved that Latana—and her babies—were fine, but he was now worried about Daset and Jotrel’s situation.
Legate Daset used to be Brenok’s nightmare. Almost twenty-five years earlier Brenok had served as the chief engineer aboard the Roumar
under Gul Corak’s command. Daset—a glinn back then—had been Corak’s aide; he was a man of rules and regulations and hadn’t looked friendly at Brenok's long braid. He had changed the young engineer's life into a nightmare and Brenok never forgave him that. Even now, when Brenok knew that Daset respected him, he could not get over their past. He had no warm feelings for the legate, but Daset was the head of the Union and Brenok cared for him as such.
Jotrel, on the other hand, was someone Brenok cared for personally. The legate was responsible for Cardassia’s economy and contacts with the Ferengi and other races with which the Union had trade dealings. In fact, it had been Jotrel’s idea to start co-operation with the Ferengi to stop relying on the Federation charity and start fending for themselves. Jotrel was one of most popular and liked legates, just behind young and handsome Legate Marrak and Legate Daset, ‘the saviour of the Cardassian Union’—although it would appear that the True Way extremists did not share that popular opinion. They believed that the Union should be cleared of all aliens and Daset’s politic of ‘all citizens are Cardassians’ was the biggest crime among all ‘wrong’ reforms the Mar’kuu Group has introduced. Now, when only three members of the original Mar’kuu Group were still in the government—and one was trying to leave—Legate Daset was the embodiment of ‘all evil’ that their reforms have brought. Brenok hoped Jarol wouldn’t become the terrorists’ next target.
Brenok sighed. He knew Jotrel’s wife had the Gazeere Syndrome—a disease that attacked nervous system, destroyed it slowly to completely paralyse a patient within a few years. Jotrel’s wife has been diagnosed two years ago; she couldn’t walk any more and she was slowly losing mobility of her hands. The legate wanted to spend as much time with her as he could before losing her, but the citizens didn’t want to let him go. He didn’t make his wife’s condition public, so in their eyes there was no reason for him to step down before the end of his term of office. They refused to accept his aide as his replacement. They also refused his advisor. Brenok was sure it was not due to their lack of trust in the candidates’ abilites, he was sure it was the result of ‘Vote NO for Jotrel's stepping down’ campaign that a group of citizens have initiated.
Tired of his own thoughts Brenok fell asleep.
Kapoor nestled her head on her husband’s chest and smiled. She delicately stroked the scales on his chest and arm—the one that he wrapped around her as soon as she had found a comfortable position—ridges. The scales felt rough and weren’t as tightly connected as usually. She knew it meant he would shed them soon; she called it ‘the scratching festival’ as the process was obviously quite itchy.
”I heard what had happened on the bridge today,” she said.
“A lot of things had happened.”
“I mean Brenok and his apology.”
“Ah, that. I don't know what's the big deal about. It's not that he did anything so wrong to apologise to us all.”
“Didn't he call th'Arshar names?”
“So what? He was pissed and he cursed. l've heard worse.”
“And what did th'Arshar say?”
“Nothing, he never heard it.”
“Oh, I was under impression he did that in his face.”
“But he still felt badly about it.”
“Brenok is my third gul and believe me, I've seen worse and I'm the last person to say that the other two guls were bad.”
“But what he said was nasty.”
“Would it make it feel you better if he said—what is that word you use when you are angry? ‘Fuck’? Would it make you feel better if he used that word? He was under enormous stress and he cursed. You do that too and so do I.”
“But neither you nor me do it on duty.”
He laughed bitterly. “You would be surprised.”
“He's in command of this ship, he should set an example.”
“You make a big deal out of nothing.”
She growled. Welcome to cultural differences world
, she thought. There were many things that she and her husband didn’t agree about, but in this case his opinion surprised her. She knew this wasn’t a Federation starship, but Brenok was the closest thing to a Federation captain that she has seen so far and she had dealt with a fair share of guls—and some of them were real assholes—so such un-Starfleet conduct he had presented that day really surprised her. It was just so unlike Gul Brenok.
She had served under Legate Jarol—Gul Jarol back then—and while the Cardassian woman wasn’t a bad commander, Gul Brenok’s style of command was so different that it was hard to believe he gained his command experience accompanying her as her aide. Jarol was a Cardassian gul and there was no doubt about it. Brenok was a good commander, by both Cardassian and Federation standards. Dropping the ‘Federation standard’ he still held the ‘Cardassian standard’ and maybe that was why her husband didn’t see a problem.
The more Kapoor thought about it the more she thought that maybe, just maybe, her husband was right. One does things when one is angry, but it doesn’t have to mean that one would do them under normal circumstances.