Jarol didn’t settle in her office yet, when a chime at the door sounded. She looked up from behind her desk to see Borad and Zamarran standing outside. “Enter,” she said to the computer and the door parted.
“Legate,” both men greeted her.
“What can I do for you, gentlemen?” she asked.
Zamarran and Borad looked at each other and then the glinn made an inviting gesture with his hand.
“Legate, there is one thing that we have to inform you,” the gul started. “It has been kept secret and I believe it should stay so, for security reasons.”
“Sit,” she said and they both sat. “Details,” she demanded.
“This is a military outpost, however, presence of civilians in inevitable,” Zamarran continued. “In case of a battle, a soldier’s duty is to fight and sometimes to die, but it’s not a civilian business.” He paused. “I have designed a special precaution...” he hesitated. “A special room. It is hidden deep inside the pole and its walls are made of tritanium. It can host up to twenty people. In case of an attack, all civilian personnel should be taken there. The room should withstand the station’s destruction. It is equipped with a cloaking device and stores food and water for approximately two weeks. It is also equipped with a beacon to make it easier for a rescue warship to find it.”
Jarol listened carefully. “Why wasn’t I informed of this earlier?” she asked eventually.
“I have decided that the existence of this room—we have called it a ‘panic room’,” he added, glancing at Borad, “should be kept a secret. That way an attacker would not look for it and leave it behind.”
“Who built it?”
“The elements had been prepared by standard workers, however they knew not what those elements were for. Glinn Borad and I have assembled it ourselves.”
“We believe that you, as the commander of the station, should be aware of its existence and you should make the decision when to send civilians there,” Borad said.
“We also considered another option,” Zamarran continued. “It seemed unlikely, now, however... it could work.”
Borad spoke again, “There could be one civilian that would be responsible for civilian evacuation and safety and who would be aware of the ‘panic room’s’ existence and availability. It seems to be the best option, but as we know a civilian is not a soldier and keeping military secrecy is not in their training.”
“However, there might be one civilian aboard who could meet those standards. It is up to you to decide if we are right or wrong, as you know him the best.”
“You mean my son,” Jarol guessed.
“Indeed,” Borad confirmed.
“How many people know about this ‘panic room’?” she asked.
“Right now?” Zamarran looked at Borad and then back at her. “Three.”
“How many civilians are we going to have aboard the station?”
“Sub-Archon Demok, two young Karamas, the archon, three from the Federation--” Jarol raised her hand, interrupting Zamarran.
“You count Starfleet as civilians?”
“If we are attacked, this would be our war. They don’t need to fight and die in it,” the gul explained.
She was surprised by that reasoning but could understand it.
“Of course, if they choose to fight, they are most welcome,” Borad added.
“Fine. Who else?” Jarol looked back at Zamarran.
“The archon’s staff of four. Total eleven resident civilians. We might have guests sometimes.”
The legate nodded; it made sense to her. It made a lot of sense considering that one of the civilians was her own son. “I will think about designing my son the...chief civilian and charging him with this responsibility. Is this ‘panic room’ ready?”
“It is,” Zamarran confirmed. “Including the resources needed for survival.”
“I am responsible for making sure that the food is always edible,” Borad said.
Jarol slightly shuddered. If no attack would happen for a long time—or never, although it seemed unlikely—there would be a lot of food thrown out after its expiration date. Wasting food was outrageous...but in this case it seemed necessary. “Maybe replicators would be a better idea?” she suggested.
“There is one,” Zamarran said. “However, it is in case of emergency. It would be best to save the energy for life support and the beacon that would be sending a signal. In addition, the replicator’s main purpose would be to replicate spare parts in case of malfunctions.”
“Good thinking.” She had to admit he was right.
“Very well, then,” Zamarran rose but Borad stayed in the chair. The gul shot him a glance and then looked at Jarol.
“Dismissed,” she said and shifted her attention to her aide.
“I have been notified that the Damar
is on its way here and should arrive in two hours. They will bring most of our senior staff.”
“I have also been notified that USS Yuen Long
is going to be here in three hours.”
“How many do they send?”
“Three. To my surprise, only one of them has diplomatic speciality. The other two are scientists.” He handed her a padd. “Here are their profiles.”
She took the padd and activated it. A moment later she understood the strange choice for a diplomatic team. “We will meet Starfleet at the airlock, then invite them to a tour around the station.”
“I have also prepared a list of places out of their reach,” he handed her another padd. “Not many, but I believe security has priority.”
She opened the file; the list was opened by the tactics, followed by the tactical ring and armoury. “They won’t be happy,” she commented.
“I don’t see a reason why we should share our technological information with them. As I understand it, they are here to make sure we don’t spy on them. They don’t need access to our torpedoes to know that.” She gave him an attentive look. Did he have something against Starfleeters? “This station,” he continued, “is the latest achievement of our military technology. I don’t want to share it with anyone, especially not with someone who is friends with the Klingons. For all we know they could be here to spy on us for the Klingons.”
“Remember I was the one who negotiated the non-aggression treaty. I know all the details of the agreement and of the conditions of their stay here.” He didn’t say anything, clearly not convinced. “I don’t say I trust them, but let’s not assume they came here to do harm. Especially considering who two of those three are.”
“Gul Brenok had a lot to do with that choice, Borad. He knows those people and he trusts them.”
The glinn appeared slightly surprised. She knew he could not have known of the mission the Damar
and USS Karamazov
shared three years earlier, but she had enough details—and faith in Brenok’s choices—to accept her friend’s suggestions as the best option. Only the third officer was an unknown.
Borad seemed to accept her judgement.
“Is there anything else?” she asked him.
“No, Legate, that’s all for now.”
“Dismissed,” she barked and he left the office.
There was one more thing she wanted to do.
“Sir,” Gil Tari at the communication station turned to look at Gul Brenok. “We are in range and can hail USS Yuen Long
“Fine,” Brenok rose from his chair. “Hail them and tell them I want to talk to Captain Ronus. And patch it to my office.”
Brenok went to his room and sat in the chair, waiting for the connection.
The Trill’s face appeared on the monitor about a minute later.
“Greetings, Captain,” the gul smiled.
“Gul Brenok, how nice to see a friendly face!
” the Trill seemed relieved.
“No, I’m just terribly nervous
,” Ronus smiled sheepishly.
The long-haired Cardassian gul smiled even wider. “I just wanted to give you a little advice before we meet officially.”
“You’re going to meet Legate Jarol, who is in command of this station,” Brenok explained. “Don’t let her intimidate you,” he said seriously. “Don’t get me wrong, she is my friend and I think very highly of her, but if you don’t present yourself as a strong opponent at once, you’d need a long time to build a respectful working relationship with her.”
“Is she that scary?
” Ronus’s nerves were already on the edge, he didn’t need more.
“You bet,” Brenok laughed. “She’s a predator. Be one too and you’ll do fine.”
“Are you going to be there when I meet her?
“Yes, I am. And so is Gul Zamarran.”
“He’s here too?
“He’s commanding the engineering team.”
“To be honest, Gul Brenok, I’m terrified.
“Don’t be. It won’t be any different than the last time.”
“It will be and you know it.
Brenok smiled. “Congratulations on your promotion, Captain
“For some incomprehensible reason Starfleet Command believed I was the right man for the job
Brenok only smiled mysteriously. He had asked Captain th’Arshar to support his decision of choosing Ronus for this assignment and the Andorian had agreed with him that the Trill would be perfect, not only because he had recent diplomatic experience but also because one of his previous hosts had spent a lot of time with Cardassians and he was not biased against them. Th’Arshar had convinced Starfleet Command that they could not afford a mistake in such an important task and Ronus had already proved that he was able to work with the Cardassians. “We await your arrival,” he said and signed off.
Brenok was just about to return to the bridge, when he realised that Glinn Karama was headed for his office. He waited for his aide to enter.
“What is it?”
“Sir,” Karama looked at his shoes and then back at the gul. “This is a...I’d like...”
Brenok patiently waited, slightly amused. It’s not that often that you see your officer, who has been serving with you for decades, to nervously stutter in front of you.
“Just spit it out, Karama!” he said finally.
“It’s rather a personal matter...and not one following the regulations, but...” Silence. Brenok didn’t say anything and waited. “I know it’s...” The glinn took a deep breath and said in a strong, although a bit shaking, voice and one fast and unbreakable sentense. “I would like to request a permission to be able to stay aboard the station when off-duty, sir.”
Brenok did all his best to keep his face serious. In other words, you want to be with your family
, he thought. “Granted,” he simply said. “I’ll inform Legate Jarol.” It was against the rules but he didn’t care.
“Thank you, sir!” Karama’s face brightened with his wide smile, his eyes changing into happy, narrow crescents, and he left the office in a light, jumpy pace.
“The crew is happy, the gul is happy,” Brenok muttered to himself.
was one of two warships scheduled to protect the station before it was tactically ready, which would take a week or two, and Brenok couldn’t blame his aide that the man wanted to spend his free time with his wife and kids, instead of his empty quarters and especially since he saw them so rarely.
Kids...Kids on a military outpost. He shook his head, not believing it.
Jarol entered the infirmary and looked around searching for the chief medic. A civilian nurse opened her eyes wider when she noticed the legate, but Jarol smiled to the woman. “Where is--”
“Legate Jarol!” She heard a familiar voice behind her. She turned to see precisely the person she was looking for.
“Medic Taret, it’s been a long time,” she smiled.
“Indeed, it has.”
Taret had been serving under Jarol aboard the Roumar
for years...thirty years ago.
“This is not just an amicable visit, Medic,” she said, getting straight to the point.
“Isn’t it? Any medical problems?” he asked her.
“No. Could we talk in private?”
“Of course. Please, follow me to my office.”
Taret, after the joint mission of the Damar
and USS Karamazov
three years earlier, had decided to leave Military Medical Corps and not work aboard a warship again. His assignment on Rayak Nor
was the last one before leaving the military and settling on Cardassia.
“Do you enjoy your work here?” Jarol asked him when they arrived to his office.
“I do. I’ll take a broken arm over a Jem’Hadar weapon wound any time,” he offered her a seat with a gesture but she shook her head.
“Do accidents happen often?”
“No, not serious ones anyway. I think I get more flu cases than crushed bones.”
“Do you have any specific plans for your career on Cardassia?”
He eyed her suspiciously; he suspected her questions weren’t just a small talk.
“Nothing specific. Why?”
“I would like to offer you this post permanently,” she said. “I know you are supposed to return to Cardassia on the Damar
in two weeks, but I’d like you to stay. You would still fix broken bones and cure flu.”
“Until the first battle,” he smiled bitterly. “And what about the new medic, who is on his way here?”
“Albek can take care of the battle cases.”
Taret stared at her. She expected him to refuse at once and was prepared to fight, but he seemed to consider her offer.
“Why?” he asked finally.
“Because I trust your experience. Because you know the people here. Because I think your talents would be wasted in some village on Cardassia. Because I think you’re the best.”
“How much time do I have to make that decision?”
“As much as you need.”
“I will consider it. However, you have to promise me one thing.”
“What is it?”
“When I make my decision, you will accept it.”
She sighed. “All right,” she agreed after a moment. “Is there anything I could bribe you with before you make it?”
“No,” he smiled. “But thanks for thinking about me.”
She grinned too. Taret has changed; there was something different about him but she wasn’t sure what exactly.
“I’ll await your decision,” she said, turned and left his office.