Asu Ronus heard a chime and went to the door to see who was his first visitor in his new home.
“Captain,” she greeted him. He wished she’d stop being so official. There were only three of them here and off duty they could drop the ranks.
“Please, come in.” He moved aside to let her in. “What can I do for you?”
“Did you have time to read through the rules on the padd, sir?”
“Of duty, it’s simply Ronus.”
“All right,” she smiled slightly, scratching her pointed ear. “Did you?”
“No, not yet. I only skimmed it.”
“I take it that you didn’t skim through the communication restrictions.”
“No,” he said slowly.
She handed him her padd with a bookmarked page. “Read.” He took it and his eyebrows raised. “I can’t follow those rules, captain,” she said quietly. “I can’t be cut off from my family this way. Not for such a lengthy assignment.”
He looked at her; she was worried, really worried. He gave her the padd back and took his. “Let’s go through this together and then I will talk to Legate Jarol.”
Medic Albek was excited. He had volunteered for this assignment and was very happy that he got it—as it had occurred there were many candidates for the chief medic position on Rayak Nor
He had proved to be the best of all of them.
He would serve under Legate Jarol. The legendary Legate Jarol. He so wanted her to become the head of the Union but serving under her on this station was the next best thing.
He was the last one to transport to the station. All other officers were already there but he had promised Medic Boreep to help him finish his tests and he wasn’t in a habit of breaking his promises.
He grabbed his bag and looked at the transporter operator. “Energise,” he said and dissolved in the orange light. He rematerialised in a huge chamber.
“Welcome to Rayak Nor
, Medic,” a glinn greeted him. “I am Glinn Borad.”
“Ah, yes,” Albek smiled.
Borad motioned to some garesh who took Albek’s bag. “He will take you to your quarters,” he said.
“All right,” the medic glanced at the office door, wondering if Legate Jarol was inside. Then he followed the garesh to a lift.
“Garesh,” he said after they entered a corridor. “Take it to my quarters. I will head for the infirmary.”
“Yes, sir,” the soldier nodded. “The infirmary is—”
“That way, I know.”
Just in front of the infirmary door Albek saw Gul Brenok who obviously was headed for the same place. The young gul entered the infirmary with Albek right behind him.
“Medic Taret,” Brenok said and a medic, Albek thought he and Taret had to be the same age, turned to see who called him.
“Gul Brenok!” Taret was clearly happy to see Brenok. He rose from his chair and approached the gul. “How are you!”
“The same as always.”
“And your shoulder?”
“I manage. That sauna you had designed helps a lot.”
“I’m glad to hear that. Zamarran had helped me with technical matters. I never knew he had such a vivid imagination,” he laughed.
“Saratt sends his regards,” Brenok said.
“How is he?” Taret's eyes shone and Albek guessed that Saratt person was someone he cared a lot about.
“He’s got better and worse days, but more of the former. He refused every kind of prosthetics, he says he’s a Cardassian, not a plastic doll.”
“That is understandable. I hope he is not bitter, though.”
“On the contrary. Unless he’s after exhausting medical session, he can be incredibly cheerful. I don’t know how he does it.”
“Happiness of a survivor, I suppose. I must write him a letter; I still didn’t answer to his—” Taret silenced and looked over Brenok’s shoulder at Albek. “Medic Albek?”
“That’s me,” the newcomer confirmed.
“Please come in,” Taret invited Albek, while Brenok turned to look at the medic. “I’m afraid I still didn’t take my things from your office.”
“Don’t worry about it,” Albek smiled. “I came to take a look at the infirmary, not to take over,” he winked.
“By all means,” Taret waved his hand around, inviting Albek. “This is going to be your reign soon.”
“Do you mind if I look around?”
“Not at all.”
Albek left both men to talk about their common acquaintance and entered the corridor to the surgery chamber. He felt like a little boy on his first day at school.
“Gul Brenok, would you mind to talk for a moment?” Ronus asked the gul, entering his office aboard the Damar
“Not at all,” Brenok put away a padd that he kept in his hand and gestured to the guest chair on the other side of his desk. “How can I help you?”
Ronus sat. “It is about the communication. As I understand it from the files I had received, we can freely contact our superiors.” Brenok didn’t know details, it was Jarol’s part of the job, but before he said anything, Ronus continued. “However, to contact someone privately, we’d have to apply for a permission, which could be refused if an insufficient reason would be presented, and, if granted, that conversation would be then recorded.”
“That is a standard procedure, yes.”
“Brenok,” Ronus leaned forward. “T’Sarik contacts her family on Rigel V every evening. She can’t be with them personally, so she tries to talk to them every day. I like to talk to my brother often. Av’Roo also has family and friends. Frankly, we don’t like the idea to be cut off from them. We are not in jail. We are not some kind of criminals to restrict our access to the outer world. To our
“This law is there for security reasons and applies to everyone within the Cardassian Union.”
“That may be. And I know we are within the Cardassian territory when aboard the station, but an average Cardassian doesn’t have a family in the Federation. We do. We are not your
“I understand your position, Ronus. Did you talk to Legate Jarol?”
“I did. She said that was the law.”
Brenok thought for a moment. “I will order her to make an exception for you but you have to promise that neither you nor your officers would abuse that exception and use it only to contact your family and friends on private matters.”
“Absolutely! For official business we have official channels.”
“All right. Consider it done.”
“Thank you,” Ronus smiled. “I have one more question, though. Not so official.”
“Why everyone calls Jarol a ‘legate’? Isn’t she a gul only?”
“Because she had been a legate for twenty years. This is courtesy to acknowledge her service to the Union and...not to make her feel demoted. She would hate the ‘only’ word that you had just used.”
“I never heard of this before.”
“That’s because before there were no former legates. The function used to be held for life. Even now we have a handful of former legates. Four, including her, to be exact.”
“Why did she step down?”
“She felt her work was done and someone else should take over.”
“Why was she chosen to command this station?”
“She wanted it. The station itself was her idea, she negotiated a treaty with you to make it possible to build it here and, finally, she is a tactician. This is the perfect assignment for her.”
Ronus didn’t say anything.
“She terrifies you,” Brenok smiled. It wasn’t a mocking smile but a friendly one.
“She does,” Ronus admitted. “She’s just...”
“Try not to think about her attitude. Just be professional.”
“Easy to say.” Ronus stared at the desk between them for a moment. “How long do you know her?”
“Half of my life.”
The Trill gazed at the gul for another moment and then rose. “I won’t take more of your time, I’m sure you’re a busy man. Thank you for your help, Brenok.”
“My pleasure,” the Cardassian smiled and the captain left his office.
Borad entered Jarol’s office with a stocky man behind him. The man had very short—for a Cardassian—and very dishevelled—for any species—greying hair and he rocked on his feet as he stood in the doorway with a wide smile on his face.
“Legate, Medic Albek would like to report his presence on the station,” the glinn said.
“Let him in,” she said raising from her chair. Borad bowed slightly and then left her office, while Albek entered and stood in front of her desk.
“Legate Jarol, it is an honour to serve on your station,” the medic said in Western Nokarian language, surprising Jarol. While she spoke a different dialect, she could still perfectly understand him.
“I have read in your profile that you have volunteered for this position,” she said, smiling.
“I am very happy that you have accepted my candidature,” his smile, unbelievably, became even wider.
“You seemed to be the right person and your qualifications are sufficient.” She wondered if she should warn him that he’d might have to share his duties with Taret. The medic still didn’t give her his answer but it would be better if Albek learnt that from her than from him. “There is one thing I’d like to talk to you about,” she said, pointing to one of guest chairs.
He sat. “What is it?”
“Have you met Medic Taret yet?”
“I have. I have already visited the infirmary.”
“I have asked Medic Taret to stay.”
Albek frowned. “Does it mean my position is taken and I am sent back home?”
“No, not at all. You are still the chief medic.” Albek’s frown dissolved but his smile didn’t return. “I want him to stay as his skills could come in handy. This is a big station and two good medics would not be too many.”
Albek’s smile was back on his face. “I see. However, he did not seem like someone who’s staying.”
“I still wait for his decision,” she sat too.
“I see. Will our duties be somehow separated?”
“Yes. He is going to be more of a general physician. I have a preliminary regulations prepared but will present it to both of you—or not, depending on what he decides—when he makes his decision.”
“Not of medical or duty nature,” he shook his head.
“Any other questions?” she asked.
“Not for today,” he smiled.
She observed him for a while and then said, “If it’s all for today, you can use the rest of the day to familiarise yourself with the station and its crew. You start tomorrow.”
“Yes, Legate,” he rose, nodded once and left her office.
She let herself a small grin after he left. The grin was still on her face when Brenok entered the room.
“What can I do for you?” she asked him.
“You talked to Albek? His Unionese is worse than yours,” Brenok smiled. There was no malice in his voice, though.
“I wouldn’t know, we talked in Nokarian,” she showed all her teeth in a smile.
“You have a fan, no doubt about that,” the gul returned the smile. “But I didn’t come to have a chat.”
“So what brings you to me?”
“You will allow the Federation representatives a free, unobstructed contact with their territory,” Brenok said.
“Excuse me?” Jarol rose from her chair and looked at him. He was taller but she made an impression of towering over him. With her personality.
“You heard me.” Brenok was not intimidated in the least.
“Those restrictions are there for a reason. They are for our safety. I can’t just—”
“You will not apply those restrictions to them,” Brenok said firmly.
“Yes, I will,” she barked back, putting her hands on her hips and looked at him defiantly.
“From now on, the Federation members are exempted from the restrictions,” Brenok repeated.
“No, they are not.”
“You misunderstand me,” his voice became slightly lower. “This is not a request, this is an order.”
“No, they are not,” she repeated in a stronger voice.
Jarol, you will remove all restrictions from the Federation citizens,” Brenok said in a commanding voice she had never heard before. “Is that understood?”
“You’re pulling a rank?” she stared at him, astonished.
“Is that understood?!” He didn’t raise his voice but there was some strength in it that demanded
to be obeyed.
, it is understood. I would like that order in writing, sir
“You will get it.”
“I’d also like to inform you that I will protest that order to the Central Command, sir.”
“That is your right, Gul,” he growled and left her office without one more glance at her.
She stared at the door, not believing she had been a part of the scene that just happened a moment ago. “I created a monster,” she whispered to herself. Where was that young, sweet, singing boy she had met at that table in the mess hall on the Groumall
All her life she outranked Brenok, all her life he was following her orders and he hardly ever disagreed with her. He never opposed her. He never refused to follow her order. Was it because he agreed or because he knew he had to obey? She had a feeling she was to find out very soon how often their opinions were not alike.
She sat in her chair and replayed the scene in her head again. And she knew: that young, sweet, singing boy happened twenty-five years ago. This man was the Highest Commander of the Cardassian Guard and this title wasn’t an empty line to go in front of his rank. He was
the highest authority and he acted like one.
She was angry, she was furious
but simultaneously she was so proud. His orders were so wrong and their consequences could be disastrous, but at the same time she had to admire that conduct of a real gul she had never had a chance to see before.