The Obsidian Order vessel
Argaya Sector near the Cardassian Union border
26th day of the month of Lukyut, 532, Cardassian Union Calendar
“Why do you live among them?” the doctor—O’Riordan, as she had introduced herself—asked Kapoor.
“I fell in love with one of them. And I stayed.”
“Don’t you miss home?”
“Sometimes I do. The worst part was not being able to contact them when Cardassia was isolated. But a few months ago, when the Damar
had participated in the Borg conference, I called my parents. They had been sure I was long time dead.”
“I bet they had,” the doctor scanned Saratt’s vitals.
“They were happy to see.”
“Didn’t they ask you to return?”
“They did. But I think after our conversation they understood that I really am happy here. This is my home,” Kapoor waved at her surroundings. “Well, maybe not this terrible place precisely, but I mean Cardassia. After so many years I grew my roots in dry, Cardassian soil.”
“Do you have children?”
“Did he marry you?”
Kapoor stopped working for a moment and gave O’Riordan a look. “You think I have been a mistress for the last fifteen years?”
“I don’t know,” the doctor shrugged.
“Yes, he married me. And then
he took me to bed, if you are wondering.”
“I didn’t mean anything—”
“No, you just assumed something.” Kapoor’s face brightened a bit. “But you also did ask, so I had a chance to clarify,” she smiled and the doctor smiled back, although uncertainly.
They worked in silence for a moment.
“Anything there?” O’Riordan asked.
“Bits and pieces. I wish I had Cardassian memory, I wouldn’t have to go back and forth to collect any useful information.”
“Is that true that they remember everything?”
“Their minds are brilliant,” Kapoor said with pride. “It’s like asking an emotional computer to give you a piece of data. To draw a picture. They are not hunted by their unclear memories, trying for years to recall where or what it was. They just concentrate and bring it back. They have no deja vu. They can just tell you when and under what circumstances they had experienced something very similar the previous time. I tried to train my memory using their techniques, but didn’t go further than the program for seven years old children,” she laughed. “More advanced techniques were too difficult for me. But my kids did great! I’m glad they have their memory after their father.”
“What is he like?”
“Gentle, sweet, stubborn and sometimes annoying. Nobody’s perfect,” she winked.
The doctor smiled, but Kapoor—not for the first time—had an impression her friendliness was rather forced. It was obvious O’Riordan cared for her patient, but she didn’t care for the Cardassians or Kapoor.
It didn’t bother the engineer at all. She knew some of them would be distrustful; for many of them she was a Cardassian too.
The patient moved, startling both women. Garesh Zelek moved closer to the table. He tapped his wristcomm. “Garesh Zelek to Tarub.” There was no answer. He looked at Kapoor.
“Kapoor to Ya’val.”
“Kapoor to Karama.”
This is not good
, the human engineer thought. “Kapoor to the Damar.”
“Gul Brenok here. We’ve lost contact with part of the away team
“So have I, sir. They went to the engineering.”
“Yes, sir.” She looked at Zelek. “Go and check on them. Don’t get yourself in trouble. Then return with your report.” The garesh nodded and jogged out of the bridge. Kapoor looked at the doctor. “How’s he?”
“I’m not sure. His vital signs are without change, but something did happen. I am sure his reaction is related to the away team’s situation.”
Kapoor approached the laying man and looked him in the eyes. She felt shivers when he looked in her face. Her stomach was sickened by the condition that was forced upon him.
“I am Gil Kapoor,” she said quietly. “I am a Cardassian engineer on a Cardassian vessel.” She wanted to calm him down and to assure him she was not his enemy in spite of her human face. Her armour should be proof enough, but she wasn’t certain if he could see it. “I am here with the Cardassian team and we are trying to help you. I wish you could tell me what is wrong and why we can’t contact them. My husband is among them and your friend, Sabal, too.” He blinked, but she wasn’t sure if it was a natural reaction or his reaction to her words.
“Look!” Kapoor’s eyes followed O’Riordan’ finger. The doctor pointed to monitors, on which two Cardassians words were flashing. “Do you read Cardassian? What does it mean?”
“It means ‘the other one
’.” She looked back at Saratt. “What does it mean ‘the other one’?” she asked and then grunted. During her conversation with the doctor she spoke Federation Standard and didn’t switch back to Cardassian when addressing Saratt, relying on the universal translator. Now she repeated her words in Cardassian. “‘Yideji’ maladelaji mek go?
” Another word flashed. Tapolor
. The engineering. “What about the engineering? Tapolor mek go? Tapolordai yideji go?
” she asked. To her horror the Cardassian word for ‘yes’—kai
“What? What did you ask him?”
“I asked him if there was another one like him in the engineering? He answers yes,” Kapoor said in a gravely tone.
“That’s why they called your doctor.” The word on the monitors changed. “What does this one mean?”
’, it means ‘no
“‘No’ to what?”
Saratt closed his eyes. “I think that’s the end of our little chat for now,” Kapoor said, while O’Riordan scanned her patient.
“It is. He seems to be in some kind of trance.”
“Is he dying?”
“For start I have no idea how it’s possible he’s still alive, but no, I don’t think so. His vital signs didn’t change, so he’s not worse—and no better, I’m afraid—than he was a moment ago.”
“Kapoor to Gul Brenok. I have some new information.”
“Saratt, the man plugged to the ship, has told me that there is another one like him in the engineering. I think the away team found him.”
“The door to the engineering is locked,” Zelek returned to the bridge. “I cannot open it, as the wallcomm requests authorisation.”
There was silence for a moment and then Brenok asked, “Kapoor, are you and the people with you in danger?
“No, sir. I’m fairly sure we are safe. As strange as it sounds, Saratt is friendly and helpful, although communication with him is limited.”
“Understood. Stay there and continue your research.
“Yes, Gul.” He signed off.
“Won’t he tell you what he’s going to do?” O’Riordan asked. “About the trapped away team?”
“No, he won’t. He doesn’t have to explain his decisions to me, he’s the gul.”
Kapoor gave the doctor a careful look. “When I had served in Starfleet the captains didn’t explain their orders either.” Why the same action by Cardassians was viewed as a wrong one?
O’Riordan made herself busy.
Argaya Sector near the Cardassian Union border
10th of September, 2396, Old Earth Calendar
Th’Arshar was quite surprised by Brenok’s request for their communication to take place in private surroundings, but he didn’t object. He asked Farr to patch the connection to his ready room, where he sat behind his desk and activated the screen.
“Yes, Gul, we can continue now.”
“Thank you. As I was saying, we already have some information, but I advise you to keep it on need-to-know basis.
” Th’Arshar eyed the Cardassian. Great, now he’s going to instruct me what I should tell my own crew.
“Why?” he asked. He didn’t intend to make it easy for the gul.
“Because of the nature of the information. It’s a nightmare come true, Captain. We have a visual log made by Glinn Karama, but I’d rather not upload it to our database yet and definitely not send it to you over an open channel, even a secure one.
“What do you propose, then?”
“I’d like to give it to you personally on a data rod, or any other data carrier, compatible with your computers.
“I see. Well then, I await your arrival.”
” Brenok shook his head. What now?
th’Arshar was running out of patience. Why did this Cardassian have to be so difficult? “I would prefer you came here, Captain
The Andorian felt his suspicion rising. What did the good gul plan? “Why?”
” Brenok shifted in his chair uncomfortably and visibly moved his right shoulder inside his armour. “I have a medical condition and spending time in a cold environment causes neurological pain. Your ship, by Cardassian standards, is very cold.
There was expectation painted on Brenok’s face. It was clear to th’Arshar the gul didn’t feel comfortable sharing this detail with him—who would be happy to share information about their weaknesses with people they didn’t trust?—so he appreciated Brenok’s honesty. The Cardassian could have made up a lie to cover the real reason.
And then it hit him. Brenok’s reason for not coming to the dinner wasn’t his smugness, arrogance or an attempt to ignore th’Arshar—he couldn’t come because of his medical condition. He had visited them earlier, spent some time aboard their ‘cold’ starship, then returned home and was in too much pain to come later again. The real reason was personal enough for Zamarran to lie about it, but not serious enough to take Brenok’s absence as an insult. The Andorian felt guilty about his assumptions.
“I will beam to your ship,” he nodded. He couldn’t muster a smile yet, but he felt something has changed. Brenok extended his hand and th’Arshar had no intention of slapping it away.
“Thank you, Captain. I await your arrival,
” Brenok smiled and signed off.
Th’Arshar returned to the bridge. “Commander Farr, you have the bridge. I’ll be on the Cardassian warship.”
“Without security, sir?”
“They came here without a detail, I think I can trust them too.” He hoped he was right.
“But they came as a group and you go...alone?”
Good point, the captain thought, but didn’t voice his thoughts.
“Keep a lock on my signal, if it makes you feel safer, Commander,” he said.
“I will, sir,” the Caitian confirmed.
He left the bridge and headed for the transporter room.