On the bridge of a massive Mar’kuu
class warship, the Radalar
, Gul Toral enjoyed a moment of quietness; no one bothered him and everyone was busy with their own assignments. Or too tired and all their energy was being directed to their tasks at hand. The gul’s thoughts started to drift; he thought of his esteemed guest, of the new station he was very curious about and of the last mission, which had been exhausting for everyone.
Gul Toral’s mind was completely absent, when his aide, Glinn Korel, approached him and said something that Toral’s drifting consciousness didn’t register. Korel patiently waited with a faint smile on his lips. Finally, Toral realised that he had been spoken to and glanced at his officer.
“The command asks if we stay docked,” Korel repeated just as if nothing strange happened.
“We stay docked,” Toral replied. “Also, please ask them if it would be possible for a shore leave for our crew.”
Toral was one of very few guls that used such words as ‘please’, or ‘thank you’. He was strict and demanding but no one could claim he was rude.
“At once, sir. How long do we stay?”
“At least a weak, however the shore leave would be limited to two days. Now, that the station is coming to life, the Klingons might get interested and until Rayak Nor
is fully ready to defend itself on its own, it needs protection.”
“Yes, sir.” Korel left his side and went to his console.
Toral appreciated the glinn’s discretion. When on duty, duty matters were important and asking why your gul’s head was in clouds would not be welcomed. And Toral’s head was in clouds.
He was no less tired than his crew.
“Sir,” Korel was back at his side, “The command says that we can give our soldiers some time off but we must limit the number that is allowed to board the station. Not everything is online yet.”
“Reasonable. Please, prepare a duty roster and shore leave schedule for everyone.”
“At once, my Gul.”
Toral observed his bridge crew for a moment and then he too concentrated on work, namely, the recent movement of Klingon fleets.
“Mom.” No reply. “Mom!”
“What is it, Droplet?”
“Come to see this!”
Legate Jarol rose from behind her desk and approached her son who stood by a window. She stopped next to him and looked out. The Radalar
was nearing the station and they had a clear view at it from their guest quarters.
“I thought it would be finished by now,” Demok said.
She put her hand on his shoulder. “It’s just the pylons. The rest should be ready.”
“And if it’s not?”
“Then I’ll have a particular part of Zamarran’s body on my plate.”
“Don’t tell me, I don’t want to know,” he laughed.
She ruffled his hair and returned to her desk. Demok observed her for a moment and then his eyes returned to the majestic station. There was a pole in the middle to which there were attached two rings, a smaller one inside a bigger one. There were three finished pylons stretching up and fourth that still waited for it’s curved tip to be completed, and four pylons that had been barely started on the bottom of the station. Rayak Nor
was impressive, imposing and intimidating. It was his new home.
He had just graduated from university and was just about to start his apprenticeship, when the orders came and Legate Jarol had to come to Rayak Nor
and take the command of the station. He had asked her to pull a few strings and let him have his apprenticeship on Rayak Nor
, by the side of a local archon, as he didn’t want to be left alone on Cardassia.
Jarol, in fact not longer a legate but a gul again as she had stepped down from her Central Command function a year earlier, was now in command of the station on the edge of the empire. Rayak Nor
was a military outpost and its prime function was an early warning in case of Klingon hostile movement.
He knew most young men his age were already independent and planning their future, but he still kept close to his mother. Having only her and never knowing his father, who had died before Demok was born, he was attached to her more than an average boy. Sometimes he thought that she was his best friend. She had a reputation of a harsh and tough woman and many kids were afraid that Demok would use his mother as a shield—to protect him from bullies or to bully with impunity himself; in the end he had very few friends and he never really trusted any of them, fearing that all they wanted was a pal with a powerful mother. But he didn’t complain. She had been nothing but loving, warm and wonderful mom for him, his best friend and someone, who helped him to hide his little sins from his grandparents. Sometimes he felt she was overprotective, but he was guessing that it was her compensation for two of his half-siblings that had been killed years before he was born. She tried to be the best mother for him and for them.
He glanced at a 3D holoimage of them on her desk. He made sure it was always charged and she wouldn’t have to see it fade or turn off. He had made it for a school project when he was a teenager. Uncle Arenn had helped him; Uncle Arenn was a skilled engineer and a substitute of a father for Demok.
His closest family was strange: a mother that had been one step from becoming the head of the empire—but she had refused—and an uncle who wasn’t really his uncle, but merely a friend of his mother’s. Her best
friend. He wished he had such a friend. He looked at his mom.
“When does Uncle Arenn come?” he asked her.
“Do the torpedo launchers on this thing work?” he asked, nodding toward the window. “What if the Klingons attack tomorrow?”
“Then you’re on the first transport back to Cardassia,” she muttered. “Don’t worry. The armament is one of priorities. Besides, Toral is supposed to stay here and protect us until we’re good enough to fight on our own. And even then, the nearest Cardassian sector is under his jurisdiction—he could be here to help us in no time.”
Demok knew that his mother trusted the main constructor—what’s his name? Zamarran? She had served with him before and during the war and trusted him. He also heard that there was a human in his team. Demok had never met an alien and was very curious about her.
“When does the archon come?”
“In three weeks.”
She gave him an amused look. “Don’t count on it. I have a job for you.”
“Awww...” He pretended that she spoiled his good mood.
A chime sounded and she allowed the guest to enter. It occurred to be Gul Toral.
“We will arrive to Rayak Nor
in twenty minutes,” he informed them.
Demok’s mother raised her head and looked at him. “Thank you,” she said. “Will we dock at a pylon?”
Demok knew that the good gul could tell her all those things through the comm. He also knew why the commanding officer came personally. Uncle Arenn had told him once that Gul Toral had a huge crush on his mother...for almost twenty-five years; and he never found courage to act upon those feelings. The young man smiled to himself; maybe he should help luck a little...
“Gul Toral, how long will you stay after dropping us off?” he asked.
“I am scheduled to stay for ten days,” the gul answered.
“Maybe you’d like to join us for a dinner after we settle in?”
Jarol gave her son a slightly surprised look and then glanced at Toral, awaiting his reply.
The gul blinked and then answered, “Thank you. That would be very nice.”
Demok knew that Toral didn’t use his traditional right to dine with his guests, but he didn’t intend to let the opportunity go. As a resident of the station he could ask the gul, who was a guest, to join them, couldn’t he?
“I’ll contact you with details,” the legate said and Toral nodded and left the room. “Why did you invite him?” she asked her son.
She gave him an attentive look. “You never do things for no reason,” she said, squinting at him suspiciously. “What do you want from him?”
“Nothing!” Demok raised his hands in a gesture of defence.
“Nothing! Honestly!” I want nothing from him, I want something
. He didn’t want his mom to be alone for the rest of her life, he wanted her to be happy and Gul Toral was a decent man. Shy but decent.
A sly grin appeared on the young man’s face as soon as his mother’s eyes returned to the padd she was working on.
Legate Jarol, Gul Toral and Sub-Archon Demok waited for an airlock to roll away and then stepped onto the station.
“Welcome to Rayak Nor
,” a handsome Cardassian with clear ridges and the rank of glinn said. “I am Glinn Borad, second in command of the station and chief of command centre.”
“Glinn,” Jarol nodded to him. She had studied his profile; she knew he had served in the Second Order command centre, where he proved to be a good administrator. “I am Legate Jarol,” she said, as if he didn’t know that. “Gul Toral and Sub-Archon Demok, my son.”
Borad nodded to both men. “Please follow me. Do you want to see your quarters first, or the command?”
“The command,” Jarol said.
They went to a lift and soon arrived to the command centre.
Borad let Jarol step out of the lift first. As she did so, she looked around the huge room. Three levels, top-of-the-art technology and...Zamarran in the middle of the pit, just next to a vast tactical table. The engineer looked up to see who arrived and his mouth stretched in a wide smile. He climbed up the stairs—his moves fast but still dignified—and stood in front of Jarol.
“Legate Jarol, it is my pleasure to welcome you to the station. I realise we’re a little behind the schedule but I give you my word that everything will be finished by this time next year. Every last detail.”
“Zamarran,” she grabbed his upper arms in both hands. “I fully trust your abilities. You have designed and built a beautiful thing.”
“Thank you, Legate. Now, would you like to see your office?” He stretched his hand toward the door to the office.
“Yes, I would.”
She followed Zamarran, while Toral, Borad and Demok stayed in the command.
The office was fully furnished. She had three wall monitors at her disposal and another one on her desk. A sofa, two armchairs and a coffee table in the far end of the room. She approached one of two windows and looked outside. She could see two rings and one pylon; it happened to be the pylon with the Radalar
docked and the warship looked even more magnificently from this angle.
“I’m really impressed, Zamarran,” she said quietly. “This is an incredible station that you have designed.”
“I hope it’ll serve you well,” he nodded courtly.
She went to the armchair at her desk and sat. The gul observed her for a short moment and then quietly left the office.