Jarol tried to concentrate on work but her mind kept wandering to Laran, to Toral, to Mazita, to Dorak, and she couldn’t believe she had thought that this assignment would be a boring, long way to her retirement. She would give everything for a little bit of ‘boring’ right now.
The door to her office opened and she raised her head to see who her visitor was. Captain Ronus. Just behind his shoulder Jarol saw a face, a face of a young Cardassian woman. The woman’s frame was totally hidden behind Ronus’s body, but it was obvious her curiosity won and she was leaning to a side to peep from behind the Trill into the office.
“Legate Jarol, there is someone who would like to talk to you,” he said.
“Come in,” the legate said, raising from behind her desk. She went to the front of it.
Curiosity on the woman’s face was replaced by a warm smile.
“Legate Jarol, please meet Ms. Dorak,” Ronus introduced her but Jarol had already suspected who this young lady was. Inquisitor Dorak’s daughter had asked if she could have a tour of the station and Jarol had agreed. The inquisitor had demanded that the guide would be one of Starfleet officers and the legate had nothing against that condition; the young woman wouldn’t be allowed into any part of the station that was inaccessible for Starfleeters anyway, so one of them as a guide was as good a choice as any.
“Ms. Dorak,” she nodded toward the young woman.
“Legate,” she mirrored the older woman’s greeting. “I just wanted to thank you for the help. It was very kind of you.”
“It was my responsibility to help,” Jarol replied. She hadn’t expected to hear any thanks.
“Perhaps, but my father didn’t make it easy. You had to convince him to accept that help.” She smiled.
“I am sure your and your brother’s lives were the most important aspects and care for your safety convinced him.” She was certain there was nothing she could have done or said to make Dorak change his mind; his decision was based on something else and half of that ‘something else’ was in her office at this very moment.
“Please, don't be angry with my dad. He is just very scared of people like you, who think they are above the law and don't realise how dangerous it is.”
The words were said with disarming innocence and at first Jarol didn’t fully understand what Dorak had said. Then it sank in and rendered her completely speechless. She glanced at Ronus. The Trill stood there, his face was blank and wore no expression, but his eyes spoke volumes. Jarol’s memory brought all their dinners and their discussions, all his questions. Those had been questions, he had listened to her answers and hadn’t even discussed her arguments that much, but just now she realised that all those questions hadn’t been merely questions. Those questions had said, yes, said
, exactly the same thing that Dorak had said a moment ago. He had accused her and watched her reason her innocence. No, not innocence, justification of her actions.
“I am glad that your ship could be repaired,” she said to Dorak. The young Cardassian seemed to be completely unaware that she had just accused the legate of being dangerous individual who thought she didn’t answer to law. The casual way she said it, the natural way she acted... As if she spoke of a family or everyday chores. In addition, she said that so naturally, without any fear of some terrible consequences—didn’t her father teach her that in the past, and in his mind in the present too, such words could cost her her life? She was raised in the Federation and probably thought more like the Federation than a Cardassian—were such things allowed there? Jarol wondered if the words ‘like you
, who think they are above the law and don't realise how dangerous it is’ were hers or her father’s. Did it matter? “There is one thing I’d like you to be aware of.” Changing the subject seemed to be the best option; it seemed to be the only option. She wouldn’t know what to answer to that and Dorak didn’t even seem to expect any answer.
“My engineers have detected that the anomaly, which had damaged your vessel, reappeared several more times in that region of space. It would be advisable to avoid that area in your future travels.”
“I’ll tell my dad.”
Jarol liked it when children talked about their parents ‘mom’ and ‘dad.’ It had that warm, loving ring to it. ‘Mother’ and ‘father’ sounded like they wanted to distance themselves from their parents.
She liked that young lady. She liked her natural demeanour, her warm smile, her shining eyes full of trust.
Ronus said, “I’m sure Legate Jarol is very busy so let’s not take more of her time.”
“Yes, yes, I’m sorry.”
“No need to apologise.” Jarol smiled. “It was nice to meet you,” she added and really meant it.
“I was nice to meet you too,” Dorak answered and she and Ronus left. The Trill shot a short glance at Jarol before the door closed behind him. Jarol knew their next ‘political dinner’ was going to be really interesting.
The legate returned to her seat but didn’t resume her work. She swivelled her chair to face the oval window and looked at the stars.
Is that how they saw her? Uncontrolled force that could destroy everything? Like a sand storm, hanging near Lakat, circling it endlessly and threatening to hit the city—you never knew when and if it would make sharp turn and cover everything with sand and dust, making everyone’s lives miserable for a few days. However, she wasn’t a brainless force of nature. She didn’t want to destroy, she wanted to build. She just wanted to...to...to...do the right thing...what she thought
what was the right thing. Wasn’t it just exactly what the girl had told her?—she didn’t realise how dangerous her actions could be, she just wanted to do things her way. She wasn’t always right, she knew that. And her mistakes could cost a lot. The Mar’kuu Group got lucky with how things had worked out after the Shift but what if there weren’t so lucky?
But...but...but...it was fine now, right? They weren’t in power any longer and the new people had been approved by voters, so it was all right now, right? Right?
She recalled Laran’s face when she had told him the truth about Ahal. He had been shocked. There was no doubt—killing Ahal was a crime, one that was punished by execution. To think of it—her whole life was nothing but a crime. She had defied her superior and refused executing an order. She had arranged an assassination of a legate. She had participated in taking down a government. From a pure perspective of the law she had also conspired against another government and had turned against allied forced in the middle of a battle and the law wouldn’t care that the government had been the Dominion and the allied forced had been the Dominion and the Breen. Law didn’t have sentiments, only rules to follow.
She never had to answer for any of these actions. Inquisitor Dorak was afraid of her because in his eyes she was a criminal at large. In his eyes Cardassia didn’t change because it allowed that criminal to stay free and never even attempted to hold her responsible for anything.
What kind of example was she for her son? What kind of legacy was it?
The door to her office opened again and Borad entered. “Is it a bad moment?” he asked.
Were her disturbing thoughts that obvious on her face. “Not at all,” she said, trying to assume a business expression. “What is it?”
“We have some disturbing readings from long range scanners.” He entered the office and handed her a padd. She was relieved to occupy her thoughts with something else than her past.
Cardassian Union Prefecture Mazita
Engineer Wobar eyed the Cardassian that walked in front of him. He wondered when it would start, when it would really
start. The Cardassian wore civilian clothes but that meant nothing. He could have been as skilled in torture as any Cardassian soldier.
Governor Krause and two policemen stood by the door, shadow concealing their faces. Why would Krause allow this Cardassian to interrogate him in the first place?
“I will ask you one more time for revealing names of your co-conspirators,” the Cardassian said. What was his name? Domek? Domok? Sub-something Domok. Sounded almost like ‘subcommander.’ “This would have a significant influence on the final sentence you will face,” the Cardassian continued.
“Even if I knew any names, I would not betray my people.”
“You participated in creation of a virus that kills
your people,” the Cardassian replied.
Wobar pursed his lips. Did this scale-y bastard think that he didn’t know that? “It wasn’t supposed to be like that.”
“I am sure it wasn’t. What did you want to achieve by this, anyway?”
“To get rid of your kind.”
“Why? What did Cardassian colonists do to you? They lived on another continent and didn’t even mingle with ‘your kind’ that much.” The Cardassian stood in front of Wobar, facing him and inclined his head to his right.
“But they still could vote. Without their votes we could do something to free ourselves from the Cardassian occupation.”
“Occupation?” Was that Cardassian stupid or what? Why was he so surprised? “You have a human governor, chosen in some kind of elections according to your laws. No Cardassian soldier set foot on this planet for years. Maybe longer than I live. What occupation?”
“We still have to pay you levy. Every year.”
“So you steal our resources as you see fit.”
The Cardassian sighed. “No, this is your contribution to the Cardassian Union. Let me ask you this: do you have rationing here?”
“No.” What was the meaning of this ridiculous question?
“On Cardassia, we do. There are generations of people that never knew unlimited access to food.”
“You deserve that.”
A sigh again. Was it a pity in the Cardassian’s eyes? “I will not discuss history and politics with you. Names.” Wobar pursed his lips again. “Names, or I’ll stop being nice.” The softness of the Cardassian’s voice roughed a little and Wobar could hear something new in there. Resolve. He also noticed that Krause shifted uneasily in his place. So, the mask of a good Cardie drops and the real face starts to come out.
“Out,” the Cardassian said to Krause.
“I won’t leave you alone with him.” Wobar was relieved to hear that.
“Who said I want to stay with him?” the bastard exclaimed. “Out!” he yelled. “Out!” He pushed the governor outside and then looked with a murderous stare at the policemen. They left. Then he looked at his prisoner. “I give you some time to think it over, Wobar. I will be back here tomorrow. Until then, enjoy your seclusion. No water, no food. It’s your time to think.” With that, he left and closed the door behind him, leaving Wobar tied to a chair in a middle of almost empty room.
“Are you crazy?” Krause attacked. “Scheisse, I should have known it, I should have—”
“Shut up!” Demok barked. He didn’t care that Krause was much older. The better he knew that man the less respect he felt for his age. “You two,” he said looking at policemen, “You will stay here to make sure no one enters the room.” They took positions but kept glancing at the governor.
“Demok. You can’t leave the man there for whole night.”
“I don’t intend to. I will return in five hours and bring him water, but he isn’t suppose to know that.”
“And you think he would start talking.” Krause smiled with disdain.
Demok smiled too. Smugly. “I don’t have to torture him to get what I want.”
“New Cardassian methods. You are still barbarians.”
“You have arrested him with little proof. According to Cardassian law, it wouldn’t be sufficient to lock him up. You are more barbaric than me, you put innocent people to jail.”
“He’s not innocent.”
you know that. You couldn’t have been sure before. Besides, he isn’t the only case. As far as I know, it is a standard procedure to arrest suspects, according to your law that is a copy of the Federation law. From a suspect to a guilty is a long way. A suspect is not a criminal but still behind bars. I call that an action of barbarians.”
“They are let out if they aren’t guilty,” Krause said.
“And how do you give them back their time spent in jail? How do you clear their name from being arrested?” Demok asked, not really expecting an answer.
“This is necessary. People understand that.”
“Those that were arrested without a reason too? I doubt that.”
“You misunderstand our—”
“I am not here to debate whose system is superior,” Demok interrupted. “I want to find those who created that virus. And I want to know if they have a cure.”
“Considering how much the virus mutated, it would probably work only for the original form.”
Demok nodded. “The form that targeted only Cardassians. Hence, even if they have any cure, they wouldn’t share it.” Krause seemed as worried as Demok was. “I’ll be in my room,” the sub-archon said and headed for the exit. He needed time to think and he needed to talk to Toral.
He knew how interrogations worked, he knew what was necessary, he knew that the ‘necessary’ was sometimes the only option, but he knew he wouldn’t be able to do the necessary. These colonists didn’t know the tricks, so threatening a man by telling him he would be left for whole day without water and food could work. No one on Cardassia would buy it—they would know those were empty threats.
But what if the man would occur strong and not so easily threatened? Would Demok be able to use force? He knew he wouldn’t. It wasn’t even his job to interrogate people! His job was to study their guilt, study proof and declare the most fair verdict. He knew a black eye didn’t appear on an accused’s face out of nowhere, it didn’t come to existence as a result of a gentle conversation, but would he
be able to properly extract information? He knew that Toral would and, contrary to what Krause thought, it wouldn’t be torture. It would be rough but not torture. A lot of yelling and probably a bloody nose from pressing Wobar’s face to a padd with images of his victims, but not torture. Maybe a dreadful visit to a hospital, but not physical
torture. The point was to send a message that this was not a joke, not to beat a suspect to death. Or to make him sign any lie just to stop the pain. Lies were useless from the law’s point of view—they carried not valuable information. To show him how wrong his actions were by presenting him with proofs and forcing to look if he refused, appalled by his own crime. In addition, to get as far as to be interrogated one had to have some crimes proven. No one was interrogated without a reason.
Of course, mistakes happened. But such a person would receive redress and an official apology from the Supreme Tribunal.
The man in that room had admitted to his crime already. Now they needed information to help his victims. Would it help Demok become ‘rough?’ He doubted. He just didn’t have it in him. He just didn’t.
Did it make him a poor lawyer? Probably.
He hoped Wobar would start talking. He hoped that the awful reputation the Cardassians had in the eyes of colonists would be enough to make the man speak. He hoped that threatening Wobar with torture would suffice, because Wobar would believe it. He hated himself for even considering a lie as an option.
He headed for the room in the governmental building that Krause had invited him to stay during his time on the planet. Demok knew that it could be the last housing of his life, even though he still didn’t feel sick.
He decided to visit Boreep first, so he turned left toward the hospital.