Chapter 12 – Day 160
In excitement, instead of chiming, I used my fist to ‘knock’ at Karama’s door. It opened a moment later with him standing in the doorway and staring at me with his narrow eyes.
“They agreed!” I shouted and moved inside, completely forgetting about sticking out threshold. I stumbled and would fall if he didn’t catch me.
“Please, come in,” he said, laughing. “They agreed to what?” he asked. The door closed and I went to the sofa but didn’t sit. I couldn’t, I was too excited.
“My superiors. They withdrew the transfer orders. They extended my stay for another six months.”
“That’s great!” he cheered up and then, suddenly, composed himself, as if ashamed of his happiness. “Would you like some fish juice?” he asked. Why did I have an impression he tried to cover up his perplexity. But why would he be perplexed?
“Sure,” I said. We both knew that ‘fish juice’ really meant orange juice. After many ‘Would you like fi...orange juice?’ we had agreed to stop bothering ourselves with such details.
“Did they give you any special orders?” he asked, going to the replicator.
“No. They said my previous orders stand. They asked if I thought if I needed some help, but I told them that I can manage on my own.”
He came to me and handed me a mug. “Why don’t you sit?”
“What?” I realised I was still standing by the sofa. “Yeah, sure.”
I sipped the juice. “There’s something I wanted to asked you about.”
“I hope it’s not a problem that it’s a political question.”
“No, not at all.”
“I watched a news broadcast today and you had some kind of elections two days ago?”
“There were some parties, two or three, if I remember correctly.”
“Three. The Directorate, The Mar’kuu Group and the Reunion Project. The last one won and now Alon Ghemor is our castellan.”
“The head of the Cardassian Union.”
“So, you had elections... Did you vote for him, for this Ghemor?”
“No. I didn’t vote at all.”
“Why not?” I was surprised. I thought voting was my citizen's duty. And the Cardassians were all about duty.
“How could I?” he was surprised by my surprise. “What do I know about politics? How could I choose who rules the empire? It's not my place to do such a thing! I don't know enough about a situation, politics, or a man to say if he is the right person or not,” he shook his head. “You don't just choose
your boss. Do you choose your captain? Do you choose your father? Why would you choose the head of your empire? This is unnatural, this is against the hierarchy. You have to prove you are the right person by your work, you have to deserve to reach that point. Not be given by masses that don't really understand what they are doing. I could vote if I knew who were these people. Ghemor came from nowhere. I don’t know anything about him and I wouldn’t give him my life, because he promises me something. Promises are well disguised lies.”
Did I understand what he was trying to tell me? There was some sense to it, but... Yes, the Cardassians had that strong need of following their leadership, no matter who it was. All right, they have proven that it did matter who it was, but still they couldn't break out from this obedience conditioning. Hmm...maybe it was related. Maybe they were able to follow their leadership because they ‘knew’ their leaders were the right people. In theory. In practise...well...I didn’t know much about Cardassian politics but I was sure those guys before the war had not
been the right people at the helm.
“So you would never vote?”
“I would vote if there was an option to choose. This Ghemor is no one. The Directorate’s candidate, Legate Parn, is an old blockhead and represents everything that had been wrong with the Union for the last twenty-odd years. Gul Daset, the Mar’kuu Group leader, is a total ass and believe me, I know, he used to be the Roumar
’s second in command. What kind of choice is that? Three incompetent people. Am I to choose the lest evil?”
“Sometimes, yes, that’s what you have to do.”
“Then I’d choose Daset. But if he’d rule the Union how he ruled the Roumar
I’d ask for asylum in the Klingon Empire.”
“Who would you like to see there? As the...how did you call it?”
“As the castellan?”
I didn’t expect that. “You mean...you’d want her to be the head of the Cardassian Union?”
“Sure. I trust her. I trust she would make the right decisions. She is tough but she’s not a stone-head
“We call all those old, inflexible and compromised guls and legate of the previous governments stone-heads
“So your only reason not to vote was that you didn’t know the candidates.”
“No. I didn’t vote because I can’t hand so much power to people, who didn’t prove they can be in power. You should work your way up, not be given it. Would you like to serve on a ship, which captain had been chosen in elections held at the Starfleet Academy? Instead of becoming an ensign, then a lieutenant, then a lieutenant commander and a commander and finally, if they prove themselves, a captain? Or never becoming a captain, if they seem not to be capable? You just vote for a cadet and,” he snapped his fingers, “here you have the captain of a starship. Would you want to serve under him?”
I didn’t reply.
“So you see... Our empire is much more than one starship and we can’t hand it to a cadet from some academy.”
“But you need a government. You couldn’t function with that provisional government you had until now.”
“True. Due to arrogance of Gul Dukat, who just illegally claimed power and brought the Dominion in, we have lost our lawful way of establishing power.”
“But before that...You can’t say that the government was good.”
He stared at me for a moment. “For you, as a Federation, it certainly looked bad. We fought wars with you. Your government didn’t appear very nice to us too.”
“How about your government appearing to you, Cardassians.”
“They fed us. They gave us strength--”
“And how did you use that strength?” I interrupted him.
He gave me an attentive look and I thought it wasn’t the best thing to say. But I didn’t intend to back down. What was he going to tell me? That Bajoran occupation was good? Necessary?
After a long while of looking into my eyes he lowered his and looked into his cup of fish juice, silent.
“What if such an unknown, elected person proved himself? What if this Alon Ghemor occurs to be a great leader?”
He raised his head. “That would be lucky. But we can’t entrust our lives to someone, hoping he’d occur to be the right person. It’s too great a risk.”
“It would be only temporary. With such elections come also ways to remove—legally remove—people who bring harm.”
He inclined his head to his left, giving me a curious look. “How do you know? Even I don’t know the new law to such a detail yet.”
“Oh, I just assumed. This is how it works in a real democracy.”
Damn, I hope he wouldn’t take the word ‘real’ as offensive.
He squinted and his eyes became thin slits. If I didn’t know him that well, I’d think he was angry, but I knew it meant he was thinking. “A real democracy...like yours?”
“Yes, like ours. That’s how the Federation works.”
“And why exactly should we be like you?”
There was no attack, no anger in his question. No question either. He was making a point.
I opened my mouth but didn’t know what I could say. “I just think,” I said after a moment, “That we function based on some model and you could use it, instead of battering down an open door.”
“Yes, but why should we function based on the same model?”
“Because it’s the best,” I shrugged.
He looked amused. “The best?”
“Kapoor, the Federation didn’t exist yet, while the Cardassian Union thrived. What gives you the right to claim your way is better than ours?”