Archon Colissa stepped over a threshold, expecting to be met by Gul Jarol and Glinn Borad. She had studied the station’s crew roster and had familiarised herself with the personnel. However, to her discontent, the people that came to meet her were not Gul Jarol and her aide. Well, the aide was there but he was accompanied by a tall man in a golden armour. Some kind of an important guard. A guard was a guard, no matter what colour his armour was.
“Where is Gul Jarol?” Colissa asked Borad before he had a chance to say a word.
“The legate is occupied. She’d like to--”
“Legate? Why do you call her ‘legate’? This is not her actual rank, is it?”
Borad stared at the archon for a moment and did not reply. Rude
, Colissa thought. Her eyes went to the guard.
“Who are you?” she asked sharply.
“I am Garesh Dalar, Madame Archon. I am responsible for the station’s security, therefore we will co-operate closely.”
She didn’t hide her disdain. To co-operate closely
with a low ranking soldier?
“Where is Jarol, I have to talk to her imme--” she did not finish as she heard fast steps approaching. She shot a glance to the left, where the noise was coming from, and saw a young man running toward them. He abruptly stopped when he realised she was looking at him; then he resumed but walked instead of running. “Sub-Archon Demok,” she recognised him. “I assume you are late,” she stated.
“I am sorry, Madame Archon, I--”
“I am not interested in your excuses, boy. Now,” she looked back at Borad. “Take me to Jarol.”
“Yes, ma’am,” the glinn bowed lower than it was required and led the way.
Jarol was in the middle of her conversation with Legate Ekoor when an elder woman stormed into her office. Borad, Dalar and her son were just behind her. She looked up surprised and then her eyes returned to the legate. “I’m sorry, sir, I have been interrupted. Could you please repeat that?” she asked politely.
Ekoor opened his mouth to speak but the elder woman in Jarol’s office was faster.
“I will not be treated this way!” she boomed.
Jarol sent her a tired look; it didn’t escape her attention that Ekoor’s face showed some amusement. “Lady, I am currently talking to Legate Ekoor, so whatever you have to tell me, he has the priority. You have to wait.”
“I will not!”
Ekoor on the screen bit his lower lip, trying not to laugh loudly, while Jarol’s patience was being tested. “You will wait until I finish my conversation with the head of the Cardassian Union
. Is that clear?”
“Don’t use that tone of voice with me, Jarol!”
The legate squinted her eyes madly at the newcomer. She couldn’t be sure but something was telling her that she was the archon that was supposed to arrive that day. Demok’s presence in the room would confirm that guess.
” Ekoor spoke from the screen. “Just send me that report. I can see your hands are full right now
“Yes, sir,” she nodded and he signed off. She looked at the other woman.
“Now, Jarol, I have a few comments regarding the way you’re running this place,” the archon attacked. Jarol barely managed to stop her grin from forming—what could she know about the station if she’d arrived just a moment ago? “You did not come to meet me. That’s one. You sent a non-con. That’s two. You forced me to accept that young man here, because he’s your child. I prefer to choose skilled people to train, not ones with privileges. That’s three. He is even unable to be punctual! Four!” Demok lowered his head and sent an apologetic look to his mother who fumed at the insults toward her son and her soldier. “Now, Jarol, what--”
Jarol,” the commander interrupted.
Jarol, if I’m not mistaken,” the other women retorted. Jarol growled; she didn’t mind being called ‘gul’ again, but not in this manner! “Now, Gul
Jarol, what do you have to say for your excuse?”
“I don’t have to excuse myself,” she said in a levelled and calmed tone that only those who knew her very well would recognise as a well-trained control of her growing anger. “Garesh Dalar, please escort the archon to her new quarters. Use force, if necessary,” she added looking the woman in the eye.
“This way,” Dalar moved aside and gestured with his hand inviting the newcomer to go first. The archon seemed to hesitate for a moment and than reluctantly motioned toward the door.
“You would do it, wouldn’t you?” she threw to Jarol before leaving. “Use force.”
Demok stayed behind long enough not to be heard. “Mo-o-o-o-m,” he moaned, sending the legate a painful look.
, Jarol thought, not saying it out loud. She only smiled to her boy and he followed the group to see the archon off to her quarters.
“This is going to be fun,” Jarol muttered to herself sitting down and activating the screen with her report for Ekoor. Those smiles he tried to hide... Did he know? Or was the situation itself ridiculous enough to amuse him?
Dalar was a man of patience. Or indifference. He had to deal with different types of people during his career and he could always control himself. He thought that there was no person, no situation that could drive him crazy.
The archon treated him like a piece of trash. And she didn’t hide her disdain. However, that was not all. She treated Legate Jarol the same way and in Dalar’s eyes it was a sin worth execution. All the way to her quarters she was throwing orders at young Demok, calling him ‘boy’, or ‘child’ and showing him absolutely no respect that every Cardassian deserved, especially this young and talented man. She treated Borad like her personal servant and complained about décor of her new home. She demanded to call some specialist to change everything and adapt to her tastes. When she finally dismissed them, they stood in the corridor in front of her quarters, looking at each other uncertainly, grateful it was over...for now.
Borad patted Demok’s shoulder and went back to the command.
“Dalar, shoot me, please,” the young Cardassian said quietly.
“I’d rather shoot her,” the garesh whispered.
They headed for the nearest lift.
“Who makes decisions about archons’ assignments?” Dalar asked.
“The High Archon Council,” Demok answered. “There is no way to influence them.”
“Find a Ferengi and bribe them.”
Demok smiled. “You of course realise that discovery of that act would ruin my career and most likely sent me to prison.”
“The art of bribery is not to be caught.”
“Did you ever bribe anyone?”
“No, I didn’t have to,” Dalar answered.
Demok seemed to understand the reply. Garesh Dalar was a veteran of three wars and one his look was enough to make people do things. He had trained hundreds, if not thousands, of militiamen and led them to battle. For last twenty years the garesh had been Jarol’s personal bodyguard and he knew she trusted him fully. So did her son. He was not afraid of anything or anyone. He might not be an officer but it didn’t mean he was a fool. Now, serving as the chief tactician of the station, his position put him on the same level as many officers but so far no one objected or treated him as something worse. His aide, Garesh Aladar, was treated with the same respect.
Until now. Until this archon arrived to the station and treated Legate Jarol herself as a doormat. Who was that woman or rather—who did she think she was!
“I got to go,” Demok said. “I have lots and lots of work to do,” he added sighing.
Dalar acknowledged by nodding and observed the young man walking away. He knew Demok spent most of his life under his mother’s protection but now he was just about to face the first hard lesson in his life—dealing with someone who was not afraid of his mother and who seemed to be an enemy of his mother’s. Dalar could only hope that the archon wouldn’t take her hatred on Demok.
He slowly walked toward a lift with the intention to return to the tactical. Aladar spent whole morning testing different systems and Dalar wanted to see the final report. Without the station being fully prepared for a sudden attack he felt almost naked.
Demok was terrified. He ran through all orders he had been given by the archon—yes, they were orders, not requests—and he hoped he didn’t forget about anything. Thanks, mom
, he thought to himself. Oh, how he hated all those memory training sessions and how he tried to avoid them: pretending to be sick, pretending he forgot and hoping she wouldn’t remind him—that one was not very smart as she only had one more argument how much he needed those sessions but you can’t blame him, he was only eight years old then—even running away from one—not advisable with a mother like that... Now, however, he appreciated all those sessions. The archon hadn’t cared if he had any padd with him, she just had been barking hundreds of tasks she wanted him to do and all he had was his memory to commit them to.
He took a padd and, to be on the safe side, wrote everything down. Just in case. In case he’d forget because of being traumatised by this monster.
How about hiring someone to kill her? No, he didn’t have enough money...How about killing her himself? No, he didn’t have enough skill. Darn, he should have gone to the academy; he not only could kill her, he wouldn’t have to kill her because she wouldn’t be his boss! His mom would be.
Who knows what’s worse?
He smiled to himself. He knew his mother was a tough soldier and commander but he also knew she was fair and never mistreated her subordinates. With all personnel shift in the military, there were people that have been stuck with her and followed her for years.
He wished Archon Colissa would belong to people who never mistreated anyone. She represented law and she should follow it but he never heard of any rule that would forbid to bark at subordinates. Even guls and legates didn’t bark as barkishy
as this woman.
Why did it have to be her? Owwww, someone wanted to get rid of her from Cardassia and transferred her here, to the station. Someone there is happy making everyone here miserable. Making him
The archon clearly specified in which order he should complete given tasks, so he had no problem with starting. First—assess everyone’s history and possible past troubles with law. Starting from his own mother.
He rolled his eyes. Whatever she had done in her life, she never broke the law, never
He got work. That part of his job he liked—putting everything in order. There were clear rules how to prepare such reports and his clearance, as a sub-archon, allowed him to peep into files normally unavailable for a Cardassian civilian.
His mother’s file was long. Her career was colourful, with its ups and downs. And then he found two strange things. Two files. One was sealed. Not just sealed as any other file. It was a seal of a paranoid-type of seals. All he could tell was that the file existed and most likely was created in 2378 but that was all. Oh, and it was sealed three years later. By Gul Dukat. Curious. Reeaaallly curious. What was there? Why was it sealed? Why was it sealed by him
? And the date. That file was created a day after Jarol family died. One day. The next day. She probably didn’t stop crying yet when someone—when he
—created the file and wrote something in it. What?
The other file was empty. It had been created in 2371 by some glinn whose name didn’t ring a bell. The file was empty. It used to be sealed too but had been unsealed a few years back. It was just empty. Demok checked the list of last users, wondering if it would be sealed but it wasn’t. The file had been opened five years ago by Legate Ekoor. That was the last position on the users list. Just before that one there was a report of deletion of whole content performed by Legate Damar.
“Oh, mom,” the Cardassian whispered.
It seemed that his mother had a lot of secrets. Would she tell him if he asked? Would she be angry if he asked?
He closed the empty file and continued his search through her lifetime only to find a file that had been flagged as critical information. To his surprise he had no problems with accessing it—a sub-archon’s privileges were quite high, it would seem—and started to read, not believing his own eyes.
“Oh, mom,” he whispered again.
He had heard about Legate Ahal and his assassination but he never knew his mother had been the prime suspect! She had served under him, he knew that. She hated him because it was an evil man, he knew that too. But did she kill him? Would she?
Wait, you’re talking about your mother. Of course she would. If she could justify it, she would.
But did she? Did she do it?
The file said she had a motive but nothing that could be proved. Ahal had been giving a speech and she was among the audience when he was shot. Even if she was involved, she didn’t do it herself. That’s good or bad?
How was he supposed to deliver that report to the archon?
“Demok to Jarol,” he pressed his wristcomm.
“What is it?
” her voice asked.
“Mom, I need to talk to you. It’s urgent.”
“Come to my office, then
He was there in no time, with the padd that contained all the information he had gathered.
“What’s going on?” she asked him, pulling him to a sofa in a corner of her office.
“That archon, she told me to prepare full report on everyone on the station.”
“A standard procedure.”
“Yes, I know. But...”
“But?” she encouraged him to continue.
“Mom, your file. I...”
“Why is one file sealed?”
Her eyes darkened and he thought it was anger.
“After Father Joret, Mayel and Corat died, my gul entered a two year reprimand into my file. A few years later he sealed that file not to let anyone access it again and remind of that reprimand. He believed he was wrong punishing me for that event.” It was not anger, it was pain. “That’s why it’s sealed. That tragedy shouldn’t negatively influence my career.”
“Why didn’t he just delete it?”
“You cannot delete some files. It’s a hardware precaution.”
“Why didn’t he delete the content, then? Which brings me to my next question. Damar had deleted the content of another file. Why? What was there?”
“It was a full report of my insubordination, related to Gul Ahal.”
“Insub...” Demok’s eyes opened wide. His mother was insubordinate??
“Ahal gave an order which I refused to follow. Publicly. And I told him what I thought about that wrong order.”
“About killing Cardassian civilians,” he recalled her telling him about it.
“Why was it deleted?”
“Because insubordination is insubordination, even if you’re right. I think Damar wanted to make sure it wouldn’t stain my history.”
“All right,” he nodded.
“There’s more,” she guessed, as he didn’t move and seemed to hesitate.
“Mom, you were the prime suspect in the Ahal assassination investigation. They say they couldn’t prove it but you had a motive.” She didn’t seem surprised. “Did you kill him?”
His direct and sudden question startled her. He knew she wouldn’t lie to him, she never did.
“Are you asking as a sub-archon, or as a son?”
“As a son, mom. I can’t include in my report anything that is not proven and our conversation is not proof.”
“I did not kill him. But it has been done on my order.”
Demok didn’t say anything. He stared at her, not sure what to think about it. Was Ahal that evil? Was his mother evil? Did Uncle Arenn know about it?
“Why no one found any proof?”
“Because all proof has been destroyed.”
“You weren’t alone in this.”
“It was my decision but I had friends who covered for me.”
“He didn’t know anything about it.”
She didn’t say anything and it was clear to him she would not answer that question.
“Do you regret?”
The answer, so immediate and certain, startled him.
“Why didn’t you tell me?”
“How? When? What for?”
She kept looking at him, worry in her eyes. Did she fear he would include it in his report? “I won’t write it,” he assured her. “This is between you and me.”
The worry, however, did not disappear.
She didn’t care about the report, she cared what he thought of her now!
“Mom, why were you in trouble if Ahal’s orders were so wrong? Why wasn’t he in trouble for attempting to murder thousands of Cardassian civilians?”
“Because there is no way to bring guls to justice. They are considered infallible and their troops have to trust them and follow their orders. There was no law to deal with him.”
“There should be such law,” he said.
“The military is independent if it comes to its internal matters.”
“Maybe there should be a special department to deal with soldiers and guls that break law.”
“The Central Command does it.”
“Not very effectively, as I can see.”
She gave him an attentive look but didn’t say anything. They gazed at each other for a long while.
“I need to finish this report and get to other officers,” he said eventually. “I’ll be very busy these days.”
“Good, some real work will do you good,” she said cheerfully but he knew her well enough to recognise the tone of her voice was forced.
“Love you, mom.” He kissed her in the cheek and left her office.