Jarol was tired—it was long past midnight and she was on duty up until now. She slowly walked to her quarters, dragging her feet on the deck. From the corner of her eye she thought she saw a guard posted by her door and made a mental note to ask Borad the next day about it. However, as she approached closer she realised that the soldier by her door was not a mere guard.
“How long have you been waiting?” she asked Brenok.
“I don’t know.”
She stopped in front of him and looked him in the face.
“Why, Arenn? Why did it have to be him?” Her voice shook.
“Do you think I did it lightly? That I don’t understand how dangerous this mission is?”
“He’s all I have,” she whispered, grabbing Brenok’s shoulders. “He and you are the only constants in my life, the only people that the fate didn’t take away from me. I can’t lose any of you. I would not survive that.”
“Atira...” She thought he wanted to say that she couldn’t shield her son from dangers of the galaxy for all his life but stopped himself in time. What kind of argument would that be!
She let go of him and punched the wallcomm. He did not move. She stopped just before the threshold protrusion in the deck and looked into the quarters. “It’s so...empty,” she whispered. She then entered and the door closed behind her. She realised that Brenok didn’t follow. She stepped back so the sensor would detect her and open the door. “Aren’t you coming in?” she asked. She heard the squeak of his armour and he joined her inside. “Did you want to talk about something?” she asked, heading for the replicator.
She looked at him. “No?”
“I came to see how you’re doing.”
“I’m worried. I’m nervous. I’m scared to death. I feel guilty.”
That was an understatement. A part of her understood his decision, a part of her knew someone had to go there and deal with the problem, but the part of her that was a parent didn't want to accept that it had to be her son. The nightmare of losing her children on another space station returned with all its strength and she hated that feeling.
She had tried to concentrate on her work, she tried to bury the unpleasant feelings deep inside her, but it wasn’t easy. She knew she had treated Brenok coldly when he had told her, but she had tried to do her best not to let her panic surface itself. Assuming ‘on duty’ face made controlling her reactions easier.
“I don’t want you to feel guilty.” His voice was soft and she had an impression he was no less worried than she.
juice,” she told the replicator, took her beverage, sipped on it and then looked at Brenok. “Who would you send if I wouldn’t bring him here?”
“I would leave it to Toral,” he answered after a long moment. “There is no one else who could do it.”
“Can you imagine her dealing with such a delicate matter?”
Jarol considered his reply for a while. “Maybe she’d do better than he would. He’s young and has no experience.”
“You underestimate him.” The gul smiled sightly.
Jarol leaned against a wall behind her, feeling the panic raising in her heart. Brenok went to her and put his hand on her arm. She sniffed. “Don’t leave me alone tonight,” she said very quietly.
“I won’t.” He pulled her to himself and embraced in a fatherly hug.
Medic Albek jumped when he felt someone touch his shoulder. He barked a curse in Nokarian.
“You fell asleep,” Boreep’s voice told him.
“What?” Albek looked around and then recalled where he was. “Where’s Jabat?”
“In bed, most likely,” Boreep replied. “I came earlier because I wanted to take a look at some readings and found you here. Have you been to your quarters at all?”
“No,” the station medic admitted. “I kept postponing it and...” He pointed to the table on which his head had been rested.
“Go to sleep.”
“No. There’s too much work.”
“Albek, there’s little use of a tired brain. Go to sleep, even for a couple of hours.”
“All right, but you will wake me up if you find something.”
“Here are my notes. No sense if you repeat my work.” Albek handed Boreep a padd and the younger medic took it and activated. “You can also take a look at their medics’ data, you will find something very interesting there.”
“I will. Now, go to sleep.”
“Yeah, yeah,” the dishevelled Cardassian muttered waving his hand dismissively and left the laboratory.
The characteristic sound of the comm woke Demok up. He had had problems with falling asleep and when it finally happened—he was woken up a moment later. He glanced at the chronometer. To his surprise he discovered that he slept for five hours.
The comm sounded again.
“What is it?” he asked.
“Sub-Archon, Prefect Krause demands to talk to you.
” It was Aladar’s voice.
“I’ll be there in five minutes,” the young Cardassian replied and jumped out of the bed.
He quickly dressed up, combed his hair, splitting it evenly in the middle and swiping down to sides. To Jarol’s amusement, her son has adopted Brenok’s hairstyle, just without the length.
He entered the small office that he had been assigned and looked at the screen, expecting the human fuming there while waiting for his arrival. He was not mistaken.
“It’s Governor Krause!
“Of course, forgive me, sir. It’s a habit—”
“What are you doing regarding our problem?
” the man boomed.
Demok tried to hide his irritation. “Three of our medics work on it—”
“Without any results.
The sub-archon didn’t appreciate being interrupted. He even less appreciated ridiculous demands and accusations posed by Krause. The colonists had been working on the cure for weeks without results and this man expected the Cardassians to find it overnight? Be diplomatic,
he thought to himself. Your mother negotiated a treaty with Federation diplomats, you can ‘negotiate’ with this...person, he can’t be worse than them.
“Governor Krause, we didn’t have much time to work on it but I assure you that we work on it around the clock and won’t rest until we have something. This colony is—”
“I’m sure you can talk as much as any other Cardassian,
” Krause interrupted again. “I want a report every hour on your progress.
Demok’s eyes opened wider. He could hear Aladar, who stood nearby, drawing a loud breath in.
“Krause,” the sub-archon said, his voice an octave lower than before. “Make not mistake, we are here to help but we are not going to—”
“...listen to your orders.” This time he didn’t let the human interrupt him and continued, speaking louder to drown out the human. “We offer our assistance but we do not report to you. You
report to me.” He pointed his finger at the screen. Krause muttered something that the translator did not interpret. “I will contact you as soon as we have any useful information,” Demok concluded and turned away from the viewer. Aladar took it as a sign of the end of the conversation and signed off.
Demok went to one of consoles and sat in a chair behind it. He pressed his wristcomm. “Demok to Albek.”
“Asleep, I hope. I had sent him to bed thirty minutes ago. I took the liberty of re-routing comms to him to my communicator to give him some time to rest.
“All right. Do you have anything?”
“Not that much of new information, but there is something... If you could come to the laboratory?
“I’m on my way.” He looked at Aladar. “If he calls again, tell him to wait for me to contact him back. I will not be yelled upon.”
“Yes, Sub-Archon.” The garesh nodded.
Demok left the office, his
office, and headed for the laboratory.
Medics Jabat and Boreep were present there when he arrived. There were also a few nurses and medical technicians there.
“Ah, Sub-Archon,” Jabat greeted him. “I hope you slept well?”
Demok only rolled his eyes and smiled. The medic seemed to understand the message.
“So, what do you have?” the young Cardassian asked.
“We can tell for sure,” Boreep started, “that the virus was artificially created.”
“For sure?” Demok repeated.
“An artificial virus is too regular, too symmetric to be a creation of nature,” Jabat explained.
“So there is not doubt. Actually, I am not surprised by this discovery.”
“Neither are we, but there’s more.” Demok looked at Boreep who continued, “The colony medics did not notice that.”
“Maybe they noticed but didn’t seem necessary to include in their reports,” Jabat suggested. “It’s quite hard to omit.”
“Whatever. It was not in their conclusions.” Boreep shrugged.
“Does it change anything?” Demok asked.
“Yes and no,” the Damar
medic replied. “If someone creates a virus, they also often create a cure. However, according to the data the virus has mutated and such a cure might not be usable any longer.”
“Is there any indication as to who created it?”
Both medics shook their heads. Boreep said, “It’s too early to tell. I’d like to talk to their medics, in case there’s more they didn’t include in their reports.”
“I’ll try to arrange that.”
“Actually, I’d like to go down to the planet.”
“But sir, that way—”
“Boreep, from what I understand this virus spreads fast and is deadly. You will not beam down.”
“I’d wear an EVA suit all the time.”
“And how can we be sure the decontamination would work fully after returning you to the ship?”
“You can’t risk bringing it here,” Jabat supported Demok.
“Fine, a comm channel would have to suffice,” Boreep gave up.
“Anything else?” the sub-archon asked.
“Not for now,” Jabat shook his head.
“I’ll leave you to your work, then.” Demok turned and left the laboratory.