Ronus decided to check Legate Jarol’s profile.
He accessed her biography, quite long and partially unavailable to him, and started to read.
She was presently a gul, grade four, and in command of Rayak Nor
. She had been a legate in the Cardassian government for twenty years and it was her who had negotiated the current non-aggression pact with the Federation. She had stepped down a year earlier and was posted on the station.
Her military career was quite colourful, from the Border Wars to Terok Nor to the Maquis to the Dominion War and Damar’s rebellion. Ah, yes, she was Legate Damar’s close friend too.
Reading through the file left Ronus with one inescapable impression—Jarol was not a fan of the Federation and a difficult woman. Even Brenok knew that if he warned him.
“Fascinating, isn’t she?” A familiar voice spoke behind him. He turned to look at the tall Skorr.
“Intimidating would be a better description,” he replied.
“It won’t be that bad.”
“Av’Roo, I’m not sure I can do it,” he admitted. “I’m not big politics person.”
“That’s why we have Commander T’Sarik. She’s the diplomat, we’re only a smile, a sign of goodwill.”
“A very scared sign.”
Av’Roo sat next to him. “I look forward to this assignment. I look forward to exchanging knowledge and experiences.”
“You look forward to meeting Gul Brenok, admit it.”
“Well, that too,” she smiled. She had very warm feelings for the gul since the first time she had heard him singing.
“Captain Ronus, please report to the airlock
,” Captain Mokkmak’s—the starship’s commander’s—voice sounded.
“I’m on my way,” the Trill replied, tapping his communicator. Then he pressed it again. “Ronus to T’Sarik, please meet me at the airlock.”
” the commander confirmed and signed off.
Ronus looked at Av’Roo.
“It’s going to be fine, relax,” she patted his shoulder.
“Yeah, yeah,” he muttered, unconvinced.
Both officers headed for the airlock, where they met with the third one of their team. She nodded courtly to them both and then they all looked at the huge cog wheel that was rolling away into a bulkhead.
Ronus saw five Cardassians: one woman and four men. He knew Brenok and he knew that the woman had to be Legate Jarol—why did they still call her a legate if she wasn’t one any longer?—so his attention went immediately to the female to recognise her highest authority.
Brenok was right. She looked like the embodiment of power. Like a queen; not of this station, of the whole galaxy. She held her head high, gazed at him with her eyes without a shadow of shyness, her hands firmly clasped behind her back. The perfect match for this intimidating station. Ronus was sure she could kill Klingons with her sight only. He had read an Earth tale recently. This was Medusa herself here, in front of him. One look and you’re a piece of stone.
“Welcome to Rayak Nor
, Captain Ronus,” she said, nodding. “Allow me to introduce my aide, Glinn Borad. This is Gul Toral of the Radalar
,” she pointed to a man who was her height—which seemed to be on the edge of ‘short’ for Cardassian standards, at least in the present company—and who nodded to the Trill without any friendliness on his face. “You know Gul Brenok and Gul Zamarran.”
Ronus genuinely smiled to the last two. “I do,” he confirmed. “May I congratulate you on your promotion, Gul Zamarran,” he added.
The engineer seemed to be surprised at first. Then he said, “It’s been quite some time. And my congratulations to you, Captain
“This one is fresh, I’m still not used to it,” Ronus said pointing to the pips on his red collar and then thought that it was not the time to chat with old acquaintances. “Please allow me to introduce Commander T’Sarik and Lieutenant Commander Av’Roo.”
No Cardassian is taller than Av’Roo, ha!
Was it silly to feel satisfaction about it?
“We have arranged quarters for you. Would you like to refresh first or a tour of the station first?” Jarol asked politely. Why did he have an impression her smooth voice was forced?
T’Sarik looked at Ronus, awaiting his answer and he was sure he knew what she was thinking. “The station, if it’s not too much trouble,” he decided.
“Follow me, then,” Jarol moved. “Glinn Borad will take care of your belongings and have them transported to your quarters,” she added.
Ronus wondered if the Cardassians would check their stuff first; to make sure they didn’t smuggle anything that the owners of the station wouldn’t like. Not that he had anything to hide but invading his privacy was not something he appreciated. He decided not to ask, though. One shouldn’t alienate his co-workers on the first day, should he?
Indeed, Glinn Borad stayed behind.
Ronus followed Jarol, T’Sarik walked next to him with Toral on her other side. Brenok, Zamarran and Av’Roo closed the parade.
“Legate Jarol,” T’Sarik said, “We have received plans of the station, however they appear incomplete.”
“Yes. I’m afraid some parts of Rayak Nor
are unavailable for you. You would not need any use of them, anyway.”
“And what kind of secret can you hide in a habitat ring?”
Jarol stopped in front of a lift door. “The habitat ring should be on your plans,” she said.
“There is but only one. What about the other one?”
“Ah,” Jarol smiled smugly. “The other one is not a habitat
“Oh,” T’Sarik’s slanted eyebrow raised but she didn’t say anything more.
“I have assumed this design is just a magnified Deep Space Nine,” Av’Roo said.
“It’s not,” Zamarran replied. “While I have used the standard blueprints for space stations, only some elements were implemented. The design itself is original.”
designed this?” Av’Roo waved her hand and her wing around.
“Yes.” Zamarran’s lips twitched in an attempt to stop his grin.
“I’m impressed.” The Skorr’s tone of voice confirmed her words.
After a ride on the lift they left to another corridor.
Gul Torat? Tural? Tarel? Moved a little ahead of Ronus and T’Sarik and walked just behind Jarol, which gave the Trill an occasion to take a better look at him. The Cardassian seemed older than Brenok but younger than Zamarran. His body was of a strong build but it was obvious to Ronus even through the armour that it was all muscle and not a gram of fat. The man paced making long strides, gazing ahead and only sometimes glancing at the woman ahead of him a bit to his left. His hair—black but the Trill had an impression that it shone with a few very thin silver wisps—was quite long and reached the nape of his neck. Two rows of very thick scales covered his neck ridges. Ronus looked down and saw that on the edge of the gul’s wrist was visible faint ridge—he knew it was the end of the extension of the neck ridge that went along the shoulder and arm down to the hand. A big hand, in this case.
They arrived to big doors. Jarol pressed the button on the wall and the doors opened, showing some sort of command centre.
“Welcome to the brain of the station,” the legate said.
Ronus was awed. Impressed. Astonished.
“Striking,” T’Sarik said.
“We have assigned you your own space,” Zamarran said, walking forward. “I am not sure what kind of tasks you would like to perform, so two consoles still need to be programmed, however one is ready for use. It is a sensor console. While you wouldn’t be able to perform any active scans, you can receive them and perform passive scans.”
“How limited are we?” Av’Roo asked.
“We have prepared full information for you,” Zamarran replied. “You will find padds in your quarters. They contain our regulations and everything you need to know before you get acquainted with the station and our style of work.”
“With all due respect, we do not work for you,” T’Sarik pointed out.
“I know that. However you work among us and it would be wise to follow our protocol. To avoid misunderstandings,” he added after a moment.
“Of course,” the commander smirked at him.
For a diplomat, she is quite irritable
, Ronus thought. “How is our duty schedule going to be planned?” he asked.
“We leave that to you, Captain,” Jarol answered. “However, please inform Glinn Borad of that schedule earlier.”
“Naturally,” Ronus nodded. So, they don’t expect to order him around...all the time.
“I have a question,” Av’Roo asked. Everyone looked at her. “What exactly is the chain of command?”
“Your contact is Glinn Borad. He is the chief of the command centre. Then—me.”
“How about Gul Zamarran? Isn’t a gul outranking a glinn?” Av’Roo was clearly puzzled.
“Gul Zamarran is in command of the engineering team. You would have nothing to do with him. In a way, he is a separate entity on this station.”
“I see. In case of crisis, whose orders prevail, Zamarran’s and Borad’s?”
“Who takes command if you are incapacitated?”
“Borad becomes Zamarran’s aide.”
Av’Roo blinked. “I need to read that protocol of yours,” she said.
Jarol smiled slightly but Ronus could not guess what that smile meant.
“Let’s continue, shall we?” The legate moved on.
Ronus felt panic raising in his throat; this assignment was too much for him...so much too much.