Argaya Sector near the Cardassian Union border
19th of September, 2396, Old Earth Calendar
Brenok took the object he had replicated earlier and headed for the transporter chamber to beam to the Karamazov
There, in their transporter room, Captain th’Arshar waited for him with four security officers, including Lieutenant Anson Fong.
“Gul Brenok, I really have no idea why you asked for this security detail,” the Andorian said. “We have arrested the murderer and there’s really nothing--”
Brenok raised his hand to silence the captain. “Captain, this is not for me. I would like to pay a visit to your engineer and I think she would feel safer if they were present.”
Th’Arshar smiled. “I really have to stop assuming things about your motives, don’t I?”
“If you’re not sure, just ask,” Brenok returned the smile. “Can you take me to her quarters?”
“This way, sir,” Fong gestured toward to door, eyeing the object in Brenok’s hands.
“Do you wish to inspect it?” the gul asked.
“No, sir. There’s no such need.”
So he is only curious
, Brenok thought.
They arrived to a door and Fong chimed. The door parted into bulkheads and Jeto stood there in her civilian clothes, staring in Brenok’s face. The gul expected her to be scared, maybe even panicked, but what he saw in her expression was mostly surprise.
“What do you want?” she barked, glancing at the security that surrounded him.
“I just wanted to give you this,” he handed her the object.
She took it suspiciously and then ripped the paper to see what was inside. She looked at it and smiled. “It’s beautiful. What is it?”
“It’s a reproduction of one of Saratt’s paintings. It’s called Storm in Lakarian City
,” he answered.
“He painted it?” she was astonished.
“Yes, he was...is a painter.”
“It’s the city that was completely destroyed in the war, isn’t it?”
“That’s right,” he confirmed. He didn’t expect her to actually admit it but it was obvious she liked it. He stepped back sending a signal he intended to leave now and she raised her eyes from to painting to him.
“Thank you,” she said.
“You are most welcome,” he answered. He turned and started to walk back to the transporter room but didn’t hear her door closing. Maybe his hearing wasn’t good enough to catch the quiet hiss, or maybe she observed him leaving. He didn’t turn back to check.
As soon as they turned behind a corner and Jeto couldn’t see them, Fong sent three other security men away and escorted Brenok to the transporter room himself.
“It was very nice what you just did,” Fong said.
“She is part Cardassian. She should know that’s not a shame. Maybe this painting would remind her that some things about us can be good.”
They arrived to the transporter room and Brenok stepped on the pad.
“Gul Brenok, please give Glinn Zamarran my regards,” Fong said.
“I will,” the Cardassian nodded.
“Energize,” Fong told the transporter chief and Brenok dissolved to re-materialise back aboard his warship.
“Was it Gul Brenok?” Av’Roo asked, putting her mug on the table next to her. “I thought I heard his voice, but what would he be doing here?”
“It was Gul Brenok,” Jeto confirmed.
“What is it?” The Skorr’s eyes opened wider at the sight on a huge rectangle in her friend’s hands. Jeto turned it for Av’Roo to see the front side. “Awwwwww!”
“This man we have saved painted it,” Jeto explained.
“It’s beautiful! Don’t you think so?”
“Yes, I think it is,” the Bajoran admitted reluctantly. She looked around gazing at her walls and Av’Roo was sure she was trying to find the right place to hang it. She didn’t want to ask about it directly not to startle Jeto. She knew the engineer might realise what she was doing and get scared by her own acceptance of something Cardassian as good.
Jeto went to the wall that divided her living room and her bedroom and put the painting there. “What do you think?”
“I think it’s a perfect place,” Av’Roo smiled.
Jeto put the painting on the floor, leaning it against the wall and returned to the table. “I’ll hang it later.”
“What is this place?”
“It’s Lakarian City.”
“You mean...on Cardassia?”
“You know...” Jeto started but silenced. Av’Roo patiently waited for her to finish. “You know...Maybe that Cardassian who stopped the slaughter in my mother’s village also was from that city. It seems like people from that city are good.”
“Maybe,” Av’Roo nodded. Until recently Jeto didn’t even believe in existence of that man; she refused to believe in him.
“That death troop commander...You know what he did?” Jeto took her mug with already cold tea and looked inside not really seeing the beverage. “He shielded him. He just shielded him with his own body. He didn’t think, he didn’t hesitate, he just stood on the way of that electrical discharge and stopped it. Took it on his own body...” She looked at Av’Roo. “It was so altruistic what he did. I didn’t even think they were capable of something like that.” Av’Roo smiled. “And that old lady? She’s so nice.” Silence again. “I am so sorry for all nasty things I had told them that first day.”
“I know. Maybe you should also tell them that.”
“I don’t know if they’d want to listen.”
“You won’t know if you don’t try.”
Cardassian Union Warship Damar
Argaya Sector near the Cardassian Union border
37th day of the month of Lukyut, 532, Cardassian Union Calendar
“How’s my passenger?” Brenok asked, entering Saratt’s room in the infirmary. The painter stuck his tongue out at him. “Hey, that’s rude!” the gul laughed.
“Homework, sir,” Taret handed Brenok a padd.
“What is it?” he asked activating it and immediately recognised the content. The so-called ‘flash code’. In the past it had been used as a communication means on great distances; either with use of light or sound. He glanced at Saratt, on whose face there was a bit distorted—as his muscles still didn’t work properly—but nevertheless recognisable mischievous smile. The painter used one finger and moved it in arrhythmic intervals. “Let me learn first, all right?” Another move. A short one. Brenok quickly found the translation. No
. “You’re ruthless,” he laughed. “Have mercy.” Another set of tapping.
Taret approached them and translated, “He said, ‘Forget about it’.”
Brenok growled but he wouldn’t fool even Jeto; the huge smile on his face was giving his real feelings away. “I talked to your brothers,” he said. “They are very happy that you are alive and can’t wait to have you back home.” Saratt smiled. “We should be back on Cardassia in a few days; we still await orders from the Central Command but they should arrive any minute now.” He put his hand gently on Saratt’s shoulder. “I have to go, I have a lot of work today. Just wanted to check up on you.”
The painter blinked once and smiled wider.
Brenok left the room. He peeped into another room, where—he knew—Karama was, but saw that the communication officer was accompanied by his wife, so he withdrew quietly, not wanting to interrupt their conversation.
He had to arrange a meeting for Ma’Kan and Jeto that the Bajoran had asked for. He had to file the final report of the rescue operation. He had to make sure Tarub was all right. He had to start the arrangements for Sabal’s military funeral with all honours. Not forgetting about preparing full documentation for Ha’varra’s tribunal.
Th’Arshar stormed into Brenok’s office. The gul thought it was becoming a habit of the good captain.
“I want to officially protest!” the Andorian shouted. His antennae were making rapid, sharp moves and Brenok wondered if it hurt.
Brenok sent Ma’Kan, who entered his office behind th’Arshar, with a wave of his hand and then calmly looked at the captain. “And what are you protesting against exactly?”
“The Federation has been informed by your government that this ship, this house of torture, is to be taken back to Cardassia for further study!”
“I know. I have already received these orders.”
“Can you imagine what would happen if that information gets into wrong hands?! Can you assure it would never happen again?”
“No,” Brenok said simply.
“Can’t you talk to someone there? This cannot
“Calm down, Captain.”
“How can I calm down?!” Th’Arshar threw his arms to the air. “You’re going to take this experiment back home and I fear someone might want to continue it. I know you
wouldn’t, but...who knows the future?”
“Captain th’Arshar, I said I had received the orders, I didn’t say I would follow them.”
The expression on th’Arshar’s face changed; the anger faded away and surprise replaced it.
“I completely agree with you, th’Arshar. Someone could use this and continue. Or attempt to do something else with that knowledge. I will not allow that. Please, don’t think that my government is a bunch of post-Obsidian Order monsters. It’s just...they didn’t see it, they only read reports and even the most detailed report can’t fully convey what happened on that ship. They don’t understand how dangerous this thing is. I do.”
“I want this ship destroyed,” the Andorian said, but his voice was levelled and all aggression disappeared from it. He was informing
Brenok, not demanding.
“So do I.”
Th’Arshar sat in a chair on the guest side of Brenok’s desk. “Won’t you be in trouble for this?”
“Let me worry about that,” the gul smiled slightly.
“Won’t they demote you or something?”
“My position is too strong for that. And I have powerful allies. Don’t worry about me.”
Th’Arshar smiled. Brenok didn’t think he saw the captain smiling that way to him before.
“I know it’s unlikely, but if I could help you with something, if there is something I could do to lessen your troubles, please let me know.”
“This is a kind offer, Captain, but this fight is going to be on the highest level of Cardassian government.”
“And I’m just a mere captain.”
“Oh, I wouldn’t say that. I suppose you weren’t told why our co-operation was so important, but I can tell you that we made a difference. Not only for Saratt but also for our peoples.”
“I am not sure I am allowed to tell you that, so I won’t say a word. I don’t want you to be in trouble,” he smiled. “But trust me, this was more than just a scientific mission for us.”
Th’Arshar observed Brenok, his antennae moving constantly and the Cardassian wished he knew how to read those antennae emotions. He knew that the indignation was gone, but what had replaced it?
“Now,” he rose. “If you’d be so kind to accompany me to the bridge. We have one last thing to do.”
Th’Arshar shot him a surprised and asking look, but didn’t say anything. He rose too and followed the Cardassian to the bridge. There, on the main viewer was the Obsidian Order ship, drifting and drawing a black cloud of space dust particles to it.
“Ma’Kan, are you ready?” Brenok asked his officer.
The gul looked at th’Arshar and the Andorian looked at him. They stared in their faces for a moment, reading each other. Brenok had to admit he liked that stubborn blue man, who never feared to argue with him and defended his officers even if they did wrong things. Th’Arshar had a clear vision of right and wrong, his own code of morality and he followed that code strictly. He also had the ability of being able to admit when he was wrong and that was something Brenok valued in all people.
They read each other’s eyes and then both simultaneously smiled, opened mouth and said in unison, “Fire.”
A lone torpedo left the Damar
’s launcher and travelled toward the Obsidian Order vessel. It hit the lower part of the hull, where the engineering and the warp core were.
No one said anything. They only observed the vessel exploding and quickly disappearing from the screen. The black cloud started to disperse, leaving emptiness of the vacuum.
“And that’s how it should be,” th’Arshar said.
“Gul?” Zamarran approached them clearly puzzled. He had been the other recipient of the orders from the Central Command. That was a standard precaution—to inform guls’ aides of their guls’ orders to assure those orders execution. The standard precaution, obviously, worked only on paper.
“I’m sorry, Zamarran, but I couldn’t let it happen. I couldn’t let this ship return to Cardassia.”
“I understand why. However I do not understand why you didn’t trust me with your decision.”
Brenok felt a sting of guilt. “I trust you, Zamarran. I didn’t want you to be involved in this. I take full responsibility for that action.”
Years ago Brenok had complained to Jarol about the same thing. He had thought that she hadn’t trusted him to share her secret and never fully believed her claim that she hadn’t told him to protect him from consequences. Now he knew better, now he understood her fully and believed every word she had told him that day. He only hoped Zamarran was smarter than him and would understand it now and not in twenty-odd years.
“I would be willing to face those consequences with you,” the glinn said.
Brenok smiled. “You don’t have to. But know this: it means a lot to me that you would back me up in this.”
Zamarran smiled too.
“You, Cardassians, are amazing,” th’Arshar patted Zamarran’s shoulder, then added, “Can someone escort me to the transporter room, please?”
“Don’t you know the way by now?” Brenok asked him.
“I do but would you let me roam on your mighty warship?”
Brenok laughed. “I’ll see you off
to the transporter chamber...we call it a ‘chamber’, by the way.”
“And you call your docs ‘medics’. You’re funny.”
“It’s not me who has feelers on his head.”
“It’s not me who has a spoon on his forehead.”
“Comes in handy when you eat soup.”
They left the bridge, chatting like kids and Brenok almost burst into laughter seeing Zamarran’s face expression.