Glinn Borad donned his armour and looked in the mirror. He combed his hair one more time to smooth all remaining unruly wisps and turned his head to check if everything was conquered.
Satisfied with his looks, he went to his computer panel and, as each morning before starting his shift, he recalled the pre-programmed command. He sat on the edge of the chair and looked directly into the camera. He smiled—it was a real, warm smile; he never had to fake it as the thought of for whom the smile was, was sufficient to cause its appearance on his face—and said “I love you.” Then the message was sent to his wife.
The command centre was still fairly quiet when he arrived. He went to his console, logged in and checked all systems first. Everything seemed under control, so he relaxed a bit and glanced at the door to the legate’s office. Was she already in? He knew that the day before her son had been delegated to the infected colony and could imagine she was worried about him.
The command was slowly waking up and getting noisier. Exactly when the day shift started one of two lifts arrived and Legate Jarol entered the centre. Borad looked at her; if she had a rough night she didn’t show any of it. She nodded back replying to his greeting and went to her office.
Borad had to admit he appreciated her trust. He had had a few guls, Gul Dukat included, that liked to look over his shoulder and control his work. She didn’t do that, she left his tasks to him and didn’t seem interested in how he’d get answers for her, only that he would. He was sure if he failed to live up to her expectations and failed that trust, she’d start double checking his performance but then, he would prove he weren’t up to this job and needed checking. He had no intentions of making such an impression.
His long experience taught him to efficiently organise his work. Making regular summaries and creating short hourly reports became a habit that made his life much easier. With time his hourly reports took shape that helped him to collected them neatly to prepare a daily report. In the end his daily reports were incredibly detailed and very fast and easy to make. Legate Jarol seemed to appreciate his efficiency. She also did something that no other superior he had did: she acknowledged receipt of each report, every evening, every time. Too many guls neglected that regulation for their own laziness, or comfort. It was so much easier to blame an administrator for negligence than admit to losing data and if there was no proof of them receiving a report, they could blame anyone of anything. But not her; it was a refreshing difference.
“Glinn Borad, do you see that?” It was Federation Commander T’Sarik that called him.
He went to her. “See what?”
“Here.” She pointed to a point on the screen of the sensor console. He leaned closer. “It’s very faint,” she continued. “It’s almost gone now, but I am sure there was something.”
Borad straightened and moved away from the console. He thought for a while and then headed for the tactical table in the pit. T’Sarik followed him.
“It would help if you had better sensors,” she said. “I mean, in scientific sense. Yours are calibrated for military purpose.”
“This is a military station,” he replied.
“It is but gathering some additional information wouldn’t hurt, would it?”
“Computer.” Borad stopped by the tactical display. “Replay the sensor readings from time frame oh nine fifteen to oh nine twenty.”
The Cardassian and the Rigelian leaned over the table and studied the reading.
“What is it?” she asked.
“I don’t know but we can’t study it farther. First, it seems to be gone. Second, it’s in the Federation territory.” He looked at her. “You can notify your superiors, if you need. They might want to study it farther.”
“I think they noticed that too,” she answered. “But you are right. I’ll tell Captain Ronus to contact them and inform of this...event.” She was just about to return to her post when she turned to look at Borad. “Your sensors reach a bit too deep into the Federation territory.”
He only gazed at her without saying anything. She returned to her post. He looked back at the display. The phenomenon—or whatever it was—was gone and there was no sign of it. There were also no Federation ships in vicinity. Maybe it was only a sensor glitch. Or something really insignificant. Or not. He went up back to the Federation post.
“Commander, I’d like you to keep an eye on that part of space,” he said. “In case this thing reappears.”
He returned to his console.
Cardassian Union Prefecture Mazita
Gerard Krause nervously paced in the corridor outside hospital’s laboratory. Finally, the door opened and a short Bolian left the room behind it.
“From the look on your face I can tell you’re not succeeding,” the tall human said.
“I’m afraid not.” The Bolian, Doctor Chu’kra, shook his head. They headed for the lift. “Every time we are close to creating an effective cure, the virus mutates.”
“Why does it mutate so fast?”
“I don’t know, but this is nothing unusual. Some viruses are like this; flu, for instance.”
“This is way worse than flu.”
“I know that.”
“Are children still immune?”
“Yes. It would appear that this particular characteristic doesn’t change.”
“Is there any hope for us?”
“I don’t know, Gerard. I wish I could tell you but I can’t.”
“I have to tell the people something. Anything.” Krause hated trivialising the problem to his political responsibilities but he couldn’t completely ignore them.
“How about the Cardassians? Do you think they can help us?”
The Cardassians. He had been against the idea of calling them and had agreed to it reluctantly. Two dying men volunteered for the mission, were given a shuttle and went to that terrible station the Cardies had build in the neighbouring sector. Tibaut was friendly with Cardassians and he misguidedly believed that all of them were as benign as the local colonists. None of them returned. That gul had said they fell sick and died but Krause wasn’t sure the bastard didn’t kill them. “I doubt it. Even if they had technology, and I suspect they don’t, I don’t think they’d care enough to try sufficiently hard.”
“There are also Cardassians here.”
“They are not that cold-blooded.”
“They are reptiles, they’re cold-blooded all right.” Chu’kra was too young to remember what the Cardassians were like. Krause knew that some things had changed, some even improved, but he didn’t believe that the people
changed. Still, millions wore those terrible, triangle uniforms of theirs and flew in their Galor warships. And that meant nothing good to anyone.
Chu’kra shook his head. “They are our only hope.”
“I wish we could contact the Federation. I’d trust their abilities better. And their medical technology. The Cardassians are good in creating biological weapons, not curing diseases.”
They arrived to the hospital’s canteen. They chose food from a modest offer and sat at a table by a window.
“How about that civilian they've sent to us?” Chu’kra asked.
“He is a child!” Krause shook his head. Then he smiled. “But a brave one, I have to give him that. I’m more worried about that gul and his warship.”
“Because he’s a gul and he has a warship. In our orbit. Isn’t that reason enough?”
“Well...I’m more worried by our virus. Look at the bright side,” the Bolian smiled putting a bite of food into his mouth. “You asked for a civilian and they sent one.”
“I asked for civilians to solve this, and they sent one
aboard a warship
. A baby
civilian. I think they try to show us who’s the boss. They are laughing in our faces, Shoss, this is an example of their sick sense of humour.”
“At least they have a sense of humour.”
They ate in silence for a moment.
The governor was distrustful of the Cardassians, of their motives and of their methods. He had witnessed what they were capable of and he didn’t believe in swift change. He knew there were good people, good Cardassians, he knew a couple of decent Cardassian men himself, but it didn’t change his opinion of the race as a whole. And certainly not when he had to deal with them through official channels. With decision-makers. Who knows, maybe that child they had sent to him was the best option available. If he only weren’t demoralised by his big brothers, he could be the only chance the colony had. If he had any real authority. If...if...if... Too many ‘ifs,’ not enough facts.
“I must return to work,” Chu’kra said pushing away his empty plate.
“Of course.” Krause nodded a bit absently. “Good luck.”
Red klaxon startled Jarol who worked in her office. She quickly went to the command centre. “Report!” she demanded.
“We have detected an automatic distress signal,” Borad reported in his non-nonsense voice. She was just about to say ‘location,’ when he continued, “It’s coming from a small Federation ship in the Federation territory.”
The legate looked at Ronus who together with his two officers occupied the sensor station assigned to them. The Trill turned in his chair to look at her and then back to the console.
“Are there any other Federation ships in the vicinity?” she asked.
“Negative. We are the closest outpost,” he added, looking at her.
“Our treaty doesn’t allow any Cardassian ships into Federation space,” she said, putting her hands on a rail, which protected the highest level of the command, and leaning on it. She looked at Ronus. “But we can’t leave them like this.”
“If you’d give me a small ship and a few engineers...” Ronus approached her, hope obvious on his face.
“Zamarran, assign three engineers,” she said, her eyes on the Trill’s face. “Borad, you go with them. Prepare Hideki Five.” They needed to name their patrol ships, soon.
Both Cardassians confirmed their orders. She could hear Zamarran calling Kapoor; Smart choice
, she thought.
“Thank you,” Ronus said to Jarol and went to the lift. He waited for Borad to joined him and they both left the command centre.