Aladar knew he could be in trouble for this, but he considered this one mistake much smaller than the previous one. They could hang him for that, but until Demok was back on the station, he would keep an eye on him and not let him risk his life again.
He overrode the door lock and quietly entered. Albek had told him that he had given Demok some strong sleeping pills, because the sub-archon—the boy
—was emotionally falling apart. Demok had told Albek that he had stayed with Boreep till the end, that he had watched the man dying for terribly long night hours and that he had hoped that any minute someone would bring the good news about the cure. However, that had not happened and Boreep was gone.
Aladar sat on a chair and listened to a calm and regular breathing coming for a bed by the opposite wall. He didn’t want to disturb Demok, he didn’t want to wake up him—if it was possible at all after all that chemical stuff which Albek had pumped into the young Cardassian—but he couldn’t just stay in his own quarters and wait. He could wait here. He would be quiet. And if Demok needed anything, he would be here to provide it. He had failed in his duty once but he didn’t intend to fail again.
Gul Brenok sat in his chair and waited for Gil Tari to establish connection with the Federation starship that was stationed near the border.
“Sorry to keep you waiting, Captain,” he said as soon as Ram’s face filled his screen.
” she replied but he was certain she was only polite. “Now, what can you tell me about your colony?
“Mazita is under quarantine. The planet is infected by a deadly virus.” He decided not to share the information that the virus had been created by the colony’s inhabitants, it was not important any longer. “We cannot allow the virus to be spread.”
“Why the platforms, then?
He would not tell her that the colonists tried to release the virus to the outer space either. “To make sure no one gets infected and then leaves to spread the disease beyond the planet.”
“So, to protect others you would destroy them without warning?
” she asked with incredulity.
“No, Captain. We would destroy whoever would ignore the warning buoys and approach Mazita. If that ship would get infected and be allowed to leave, they could spread the virus. This may sound cruel but given the choice, I’d rather see one ship destroyed to protect millions of people.”
She observed him for a moment. “Why do you assume that anyone would ignore the warning?
” she asked.
“You’re not telling me everything, do you
“No, I don’t.”
She smiled. “Thought so.
I hope you appreciate that I don’t feed you with lies
, he thought. “Captain Ram,” he said out loud, leaning forward a bit. “You do not need to know all the details. However, I assure you we do not plan to murder those colonists. On the contrary, which brings me to other matters I’d like to discuss.”
“I will send you all data we have on that virus. Please, take it to your scientists and medics. Maybe they would be able to help with a cure before whole colony dies. They have more experience with humans, Bolians, Vulcans and others than we do. I have also included a list of children that we have retrieved from the colony. Their DNA is on file. If you could check if they have any living relatives in the Federation. They lost adult members of their families, their parents. Maybe there are relatives that could take care of them.”
“And if not?
“We will relocate them to other colonies populated by Federation species.” At least they would be among their own
, he added in the privacy of his own thoughts. “But I’d prefer option one—they had enough of trauma recently and a loving family, even if unknown to them, would be a better solution than complete strangers on completely unknown world.”
“I will take care of it.
“I appreciate that.” He smiled to her and she smiled back to him.
A moment later she said, “I have received the files, Gul Brenok.
“Please, check them if they are not corrupted.”
,” she said after a few seconds. “They are not damaged.
“Good. Any more questions?” He almost said ‘accusations,’ but stopped himself in time. He could see she still had her reservations.
“No, Gul Brenok. I appreciate your co-operation. We will keep in touch regarding the families.
She sent him one more smile and signed off.
Karama approached Brenok’s chair. “She’s distrustful, she suspects that you lied to her.”
“I don’t blame her, I would be as reserved as she is. She was told we planned to eradicate all life on a whole planet.” Brenok swivelled his chair to look at his aide. “Which reminds me that we have to investigate the matter of a possible spy either aboard the Radalar
or Rayak Nor.
“We would need full lists of who was physically present during Toral’s conversation with Jarol on the Radalar
bridge and in Rayak Nor
command centre and try to check if anyone eavesdropped on their communication.”
“I’ll talk to Jarol first. If any of the Federation officers was present in the command centre during her conversation with Toral, we’d have the first suspect.”
“And if it’s one of them?” Karama asked.
Brenok hoped it weren’t Ronus and Av’Roo. “Then I will politely ask the Federation to recall that officer. I will not be spied by them,” he added in a harsh voice.
“So much about trust,” the glinn muttered.
Brenok shot him a glance. He didn’t like how the situation developed but his patience had its limits. He was willing to co-operate, he was willing to prove that the station’s cause of existence was not aggression toward the Federation or anyone else, however he would not allow to abuse his hospitality. If it would occur to be the truth and it was one of the Federation officers on the station, they would see that they shouldn’t mistake his gentleness with weakness.
Gil Tari turned in his chair to look at Brenok. “Sir, you are being hailed by the Radalar
on a private channel,” he reported.
“Is it Sun-Archon Demok?” Brenok asked. The relief he had felt when Toral had told him that the young man would be fine still resonated in his heart. However, right now it was mixed with something else.
“Affirmative,” Tari confirmed.
“My office.” Brenok rose and headed to his private room.
He activated his screen and saw a tired face with bloodshot eyes. “Uncle
“Don’t ‘uncle’ me, Laran,” Brenok growled. “What have you been thinking?! How could you go there? Didn’t I say clearly that you were to stay away from that planet? Can you imagine the risk? You could have died! You’re irresponsible and I’d made an inexcusable mistake choosing you for this mission. You clearly are not mature enough for such things!”
“No.” Brenok waved his finger at Demok. “You will listen to what I have to tell you.”
“You don’t tell, it’s a rant
” The sub-archon’s voice was quiet and resigned. He clearly didn’t intend to argue.
Brenok silenced. Demok didn’t try to explain himself, didn’t try to present his reasoning—it was not like him. He reasoned his little naughty actions since he was six. But now he just sat there quietly and stared before him absentmindedly.
The gul sat. “I was worried about you,” he said calmly. He still was angry but he knew scolding would take him nowhere.
“Uncle Arenn, Medic Boreep died on that planet.
“I know. Gul Toral had told me.”
“He died because I ordered him to go with me.
What’s with this family?
Brenok thought. Is it in Jorals’ blood to blame themselves for things that don’t depend on them?
“Laran, it’s not your fault,” he said. “You didn’t kill him.”
“If not my order, he would be alive.
“If a Vulcan smiled, he would be a Romulan. Laran, Laran, look at me.” Demok raised his eyes to look at his uncle. “It is not your fault, so you understand? Sometimes, when you’re in command, you have to make some decisions and some people may die in result, but it’s not your fault. It’s how it is.” He didn’t feel any better about Boreep’s death than Demok—it were his
orders that had sent the man to the planet-hell.
“How do you deal with this?
I cause my shoulder to hurt
, he thought. He knew it was wrong, he knew, and each time he promised himself that he wouldn’t do it again...and each next time he did exactly the same thing. “I talk to your mom.”
“How does she deal with this?
“Garesh Aladar talks to me.
” Brenok knew Aladar had been a good choice to accompany the sub-archon. “He tells me the same thing that you just did.
“Two witnesses that didn’t have any contact. Isn’t that proof enough?”
“You wouldn’t make a good archon
“But you will.” Brenok was very happy to be able to use future tense. “I’ll see you on the station, all right?”
“And I’ll hug you. And then I’ll kill you for scaring me like this.”
“Shouldn’t it be just another command decision with an unfortunate result?
” Demok grinned slightly. “If I died, I mean
“Because for my heart you’re my son. Sem’illiaiji aji, Laran sem
.” Brenok said in Cardassian, expressing his love through words that were addressed solely to one’s child. Demok’s eyes shone with different type of tears. “This would make it all but ‘just another.’”
They gazed at each other for a long moment, their eyes saying all that family members should tell each other and then Brenok signed off.
“No doubt,” he muttered to himself, “I will have to listen to your mommy’s rant.”