Cardassian Union Prefecture Mazita
Demok looked at Krause intently.
“Do you trust him?” the human asked. “Do you trust that Toral will not do something cruel? That he will save children, as he has promised.”
I want him to date my own mother, of course I trust him
, the sub-archon wanted to say, but, naturally, he didn’t. “Gul Toral is not a fool,” he said instead. “And not a heartless monster.”
“He could fool me.”
“I think that’s exactly what he wants to achieve, to fool everyone.” Demok thought of that evening when a very nervous Toral had come to his and his mother’s quarters for dinner—the gul was soft inside but he didn’t want anyone to know about it. Then Demok shook off the thought; it was not the time for this. “Now, I have a question about that planetary defence system.”
“It’s an outdated Federation technology. The whole system is operated from a command centre under this very building.”
“Can we go there now?”
“Of course.” Krause rose and Demok followed him.
They arrived to a huge door in the basement. Krause put his hand to a reader next to the door and then entered a numeric code on a padd. A red light above the door changed its colour to green and the door slowly opened.
“No one has been here since it was locked,” Krause said. “It’s been almost three decades.”
Demok expected the air to be stale and have unpleasant odour but it smelled quite fresh. “Should the consoles be operating?” he asked Krause.
“No. Nothing here should be working. Half of systems had been gutted by Cardassians who had looked for valuable spare parts.”
“Seems like everything was fixed.”
Indeed, consoles flickered with readings. Demok approached the nearest one and looked at the display. He understood nothing. He regretted he had chosen to learn Klingonese and Ferengi, instead of Federation Standard. “What do those things mean? Can you turn it off?” he asked the governor.
“They mean that the system is operating and working this very moment.” Krause’s voice was quiet. He looked at the Cardassian. “Demok, someone has been here and done all that.” He accessed one of consoles. “I can’t shut it down, it asks for identification code and doesn’t accept mine.”
Whoever planned this, they prepared themselves. Demok has a bad feeling about all this. “Can you get any scanner? Maybe some traces of DNA would tell us something?”
“Good thinking. I’ll have someone bring it.”
“No. Go and get it yourself. I don’t want anyone here, I don’t know who is involved and I want to limit access to this room for everyone until I can rule someone out.”
“Does it include me?”
The sub-archon looked the older human in the eyes. “Yes,” he answered simply. “One question. If the door is locked...either someone knew the code and was authorised to enter as his palm scan would be valid, or beamed in. Isn’t this place protected from transporter beams?
“It’s too deep in the ground under trinit. No beam can penetrate trinit; that’s why they had chosen this place to build this room in the first place.”
“I see. So that leaves us with option one.”
“I’m afraid so.” Krause seemed worried. Did he suspect someone? Did he fear that one of his colleagues was involved in this?
“I’ll wait here for you,” the Cardassian said.
He didn’t move until he was sure Krause was gone and then started to inspect the room.
For some reason she didn’t understand, Legate Jarol was glad to see Gul Toral’s face on her viewscreen. She smiled to him but his face remained serious and grim.
“Legate Jarol, you have orbital weapons platforms stored on the station, don’t you?
” he asked without any preamble.
“That’s right?” she confirmed, mirroring his serious demeanour.
She cast a glance at T’Sarik, who worked at the Federation sensor post, uncomfortable with revealing that tactical detail in the presence of the Federation officer.
“Many,” she replied eventually. “Why do you ask?”
He thought for a while, probably wondering why she didn’t give him a straight answer. Then, he said, “I will need to deploy them around Mazita. There must be enough for my plan to be effective.”
“For how long do you need them?”
“As long as it’s necessary.”
“Did you discuss it with Gul Brenok?”
“First I wanted to know if you had the platforms. I am going to talk to him as soon as we’re done.”
“I have them. Enough.” Whatever he planned to do—and she hoped that it wasn’t the most obvious solution—she would give him what he wanted.
“Thank you.” He signed off.
What did he plan to do?
And where was Laran?!
Cardassian Union Prefecture Mazita
Krause returned to the operations room sooner than Demok expected.
“Found anything?” the human asked, seeing the Cardassian crawling on the floor under one of consoles.
“I wish I had an engineer here.” Demok got back on his feet. “I see things but I don’t really understand what I see and, in result, I am unable to tell if this is right, wrong or manipulated in any way.”
“Do you need a padd for notes?”
The sub-archon looked at Krause surprised. “What for?”
“Will you remember everything?”
“Ah, the famous Cardassian memory, right? Even if you don’t know what you’re looking at?”
“It doesn’t matter. I commit the image to my memory and it stays there. I don’t understand a beauty of a sunset but I still can memorise it.”
“What an interesting comparison.”
Demok pulled his hand for a tricorder that Krause kept in his hand. “You think Cardassians have no appreciation of beauty?”
“I didn’t think you care for beauty.”
“Our art is unparalleled in the quadrant and—”
“I am sure it is,” Krause interrupted irritated. “I just never saw your art. All I witnessed was the ugliness of your cruelty.”
Demok silenced. He looked at the human with a blank expression, trying not to show his feelings. He was not going to engage in a conversation about Cardassian sins, just as he was not going to reply in the same manner. It was not the time for this and he saw no sense in such a discussion. This man’s attitude was clear from the beginning and even if he managed to work with the sub-archon quite effectively recently, it didn’t mean all his hostility was gone. It was covered with a political skill, undoubtedly for the good of the colony, but it was still there.
“Can I have that tricorder?” he asked instead, as he still stood with extended hand and Krause didn’t seem to notice.
“Yes, of course.” The human handed him the device.
Demok activated it and inspected, wondering if he would be able to use it, not knowing Federation language. Some symbols were known to him, but most of those round characters were gibberish to him. “Ok, maybe this isn’t such a good idea.” He returned the tricorder to Krause. “You use it. Scan for DNA. If we’re lucky, we’d find something and have our first suspect.”
“And if we don’t find anything?” the governor asked, waving the device near consoles.
“Then we will start interrogating every single person with medical and engineering skill sufficient to create such a virus.”
The tricorder kept beeping and Demok wondered if it meant something or it was just proof that the device worked correctly.
“I have two distinct DNA patterns,” Krause said, approaching the Cardassian. “Excluding ours, of course. One is human, one is a human-Betazoid hybrid.” The governor frowned.
“What is it?” Demok asked.
“There is only one half-Betazoid in the colony that I know of. And he’s a former Starfleet engineer.” Krause looked at the sub-archon worried.
“Do you have DNA database on this planet?”
“We do. The Cardassians had forced us to adopt that system of identification when they had arrived.”
“I was hoping you would say that,” Demok smiled, ignoring another shadow of hostility in Krause’s voice. The governor might hate the Cardassian way of doing things, but he was just about to see that those things were necessary and could be very useful. “I want names.”
“I would like to interrogate him personally,” Toral offered. This was a very good news—Demok had found one suspect and everything seemed to prove that the man was deeply involved in the case.
“You must be joking!
” Krause snorted on the viewscreen. “There is no way I’d give him into your hands!
“The information we need must be extracted,” Toral insisted. He looked at Demok who stood next to the prefect.
” Krause threw his hands up in indignation.
“Prefect Krause, you don’t have much of a choice,” the gul said frowning. Talking to this man proved to be very difficult; he didn’t listen to any arguments!
” The word was spoken softly but firmly. Toral looked at Sub-Archon Demok and his first instinct was to oppose but he knew he couldn’t. Demok’s wishes were his orders.
“No?” he only asked with disbelief.
“That man would tell you anything you’d want to hear only to make you stop hurting him. He would make up any story, he would sign any testimony you’d give him just to stop the torture. He’s in jail without proof of his guilt and that’s bad enough. I won’t let him any more harm.
“He’s got information,” Toral said. “Information that is very important, that could save lives.”
“You can’t know that.
” Demok looked at the gul. “For all you know he may know nothing about the virus and be responsible only for engineering matters.
“Or he might be the brain behind all this and know everything.”
The young Cardassian looked at the prefect. “What are your procedures in such case? How do you plan to proceed to gather information?
“Our investigators are already on it. We will share the results with you.
“And how can we know you’re going to share all information or the truth?” Toral attacked.
“This is an internal colony matter.
“No, it isn’t. The colony is a part of the Union.”
Krause sighed. “I knew talking to you, Cardassian, would prove difficult. It’s just impossible to co-operate with you.
Demok squinted at the human. “I’d appreciate if you’d refrain from openly showing your hostility toward us,
” he said in a low voice. Toral thought that Demok sounded just like his mother.
“I’d appreciate you wouldn’t torture my people!
“Didn’t I just say that this wouldn’t happen?
“He wants to do it!
” Krause pointed at Toral.
“And I say he won’t do it. The matter is closed.
The human observed the sub-archon for a moment. Then, he said to Toral, “I will send you the information as soon as we have something.
Toral wanted to comment that but managed to remain silent. He had already expressed his opinion about Krause’s investigators and intentions and saw no reason to remind it anyone. Krause wouldn’t care less while Demok wouldn’t have forgotten. He looked at Demok. “How are you feeling?” he asked softly, too softly, considering the presence of his whole bridge staff here and Krause there.
“I’m fine. But I think Boreep is already sick.
Toral closed his eyes for a moment and sighed. He hated losing people.
Cardassian Union Prefecture Mazita
Demok could hear his boots thumping heavily on the floor as he ran. People were moving out of his way, even though he wasn’t shouting at them to move aside. He wondered if the thumping, which for many of them sounded like a Cardassian troop, wasn’t the cause of their clearing his path.
He entered the room of the hospital and looked around. There were three beds in there, all three occupied, and many provisional beds on the floor. He threaded carefully, not wanting to step on someone, and looked around, trying to locate Medic Boreep.
Finally he spotted him and quickly approached. He sat on the floor and took Boreep’s hand in his. “How is he?” he asked a Tellarite nurse who attended to the medic.
“He had collapsed half an hour ago,” she answered. “He regained consciousness about five minutes ago.”
Demok leaned over Boreep, who lay on one of makeshift beds in a corner. “Boreep? Can you hear me?”
The medic opened his eyes, startling Demok: they had a yellowish, sick hue. “How...you...feel?” he rasped, trying to raise his other hand and touch Demok’s face.
“I’m fine, don’t worry about me. I am sure Albek is working on the cure and you’re going to be fine too.”
“Your...mother would tell you...not promise things...can’t keep.”
He was so weak. “Don’t speak, save your strength.” Demok felt tears filling his eyes; he had never seen such suffering so up close, he had never seen anyone so sick, he had never seen anyone...dying.
“Shhh... don’t speak. You don’t have to say anything.”
“Check your...telomeres...” Boreep closed his eyes and his hand feel down on his chest.
Demok looked in panic at the nurse.
“He sleeps,” she explained. “He’s very weak. He doesn’t have much time.”
Demok rose to his feet and quickly felt the room. He ran through the corridor, not sure where he was running, until he found a maintenance closet. He pushed the door and entered the tiny room. He slid to the floor, pulled his kneed to his chest and started to cry. He covered his mouth with his hand, muffling his sobs a little, but his chest kept gasping, trying to catch more air through his tightened windpipe.