Zamarran waited for a connection to be established. “My lady,” he said when his wife’s face appeared on the screen.
“You look like hell,
” she said.
“Thank you. You always knew how to make me feel better.” There was no bitterness in his voice; he knew she didn’t mean it in an offensive way.
“So, what made you feel bad?
” she asked.
Did she read his mind? “Nothing,” he lied. He shouldn’t lie to her if she read his mind, should he?
“You always were a bad liar.
“You keep telling me that.”
“And you keep trying to deceive me.
” She smiled.
“How silly of me.”
“I have met Inquisitor Dorak,” he started and her eyes opened wider in an expression of awe. “Or, shall I rather say, I have tried to meet him.”
“And what’s happened?
“And he yelled at me and treated me like trash.”
“I don’t know why.” Zamarran shrugged. “He was here, on the station, my team was repairing his ship and I decided to pay him a visit. He opened the door, threw insults at me and closed the door. The end of story.”
His wife didn’t say anything at first. He observed her, her thoughtful face, thinking how time didn’t manage to diminish her beauty even a little bit, even tough it left its marks on her face. She tapped the tip of her ridged nose with her long, graceful finger for a while and then she said, “Do you remember when we harboured those two young dissidents?
” He nodded. How could he forget! “After our dinner, when you were in your study with them, we had a visitor. A doorbell. I went to open and saw a man, whom I didn’t know, wearing armour. I was certain he came to arrest us all, that the authorities had learnt somehow that those two people were in our apartment and this man was to take you and me, and possibly our children, to our deaths. I couldn’t breathe, I couldn’t talk, I just stood there and waited for him to tell me that I would have to go with him. But all he did was giving me a padd and telling me that it was for your review. Then he left.
“You never told me about it.” He remembered that padd; it had been one of projects that awaited his approval and since his department had been a bit delayed, he had asked to deliver that part of the project to him as soon as it had been ready.
“I didn’t think it was important. And I didn’t want you to worry too.
He didn’t have to ask why she told him that story now; he knew. She suggested that maybe Dorak misinterpreted Zamarran’s presence at his door and reacted in the only way he knew: attack. Maybe if the engineer wore a civilian tunic, it would have been different, but he didn’t think about it.
“I’m not good with people, am I?”
“No, you’re not. You’re reserved, stiff and scary. But I still can see through this façade.
Zamarran recalled the day when they had been introduced to each other by their parents. She had looked intimidated by him and that day he had promised himself that he would do all in his power to make her love him before marrying her. He had courted her for months and had fallen in love with her himself.
He had not been happy that his parents had decided to be traditional and choose a wife for him, but with time he became grateful—otherwise he would have never met her and he couldn’t imagine not spending his life with her and not growing old by her side.
“In other words, I shouldn’t have done that,” he muttered.
“You should have done that in civilian clothes.
“From what I heard, he wasn’t much friendlier to civilians.”
“They work on a military installation, he expects them to think like the military.
“Not all military is evil...used to be evil,” he corrected himself.
“However, he might not know that.
” Did that woman have to be always right?
“How are things at home?” he asked, changing subject.
She brightened and started to tell him about their three year old grandson.
Demok left the shuttle and stood on the Rayak Nor
’s deck. The hangar inner door opened and a few Cardassians entered. One immediately charged toward the away team.
“Brace for impact,” the sub-archon muttered to himself, seeing his mother running to him. He did not move but stretched his arms toward her. He expected her to bump into him and the second she was just about to reach him he thought that the hit of her armour diamond front against his chanth
would hurt like hell. He underestimated her: she knew that too, so she abruptly stopped just in front of him and then gently wrapped her arms around him and pressed him to the left side of her armour, where her heart was. “Hi, Mom,” he said quietly.
“Hi, Droplet,” she whispered into his hear. “If Uncle tries to send you away from me again, kill him.”
Another wave of guilt washed through him. She must have felt the shift in his posture, as she pulled him away a bit and looked into his eyes. “Uncle Arenn told me what happened.”
Demok only pressed his lips thin. He noticed that the remaining members of his...team...thinner team... headed for the door and he and his mother were left alone in the big hangar.
“I didn’t have to take him with me,” he said quietly.
“Droplet, you couldn’t have known. Once a wise man told me that you shouldn’t blame yourself for crimes committed by others. It would be like letting them commit that crime on you over and over again.”
“Easy to say.”
“Yes, easy to say and not so easy to apply to your bleeding heart. I know and he knew that too.”
“I want to lead the mourning ceremony,” he said. “I want one here, on the station.” He knew for certain that there would be one on Cardassia, where Boreep’s family lived and where an empty urn—as his body couldn’t have been retrieved from the planet, therefore no ashes to fill the last journey vessel—would be placed in a military medics’ mausoleum, but he wanted—he needed
—one to take part in, too. He needed to express his appreciation of Boreep’s life and the value of his existence. If not Boreep and his care, Demok would have stayed on that planet, watch everyone
die and finally die himself, killed by the virus once he’d reach his adulthood, or after a long life of loneliness...
“I’ll talk to Uncle Arenn. He planned to lead the ceremony himself but I think he’ll agree for you to have that privilege.”
She pulled him toward the hangar door, not letting his hand out of hers. He was grateful for that—he needed her touch and her support.
Captain Ronus waited for the door to open. It happened a short moment after he had chimed. T’Sarik looked at him and then let him in.
“I’m afraid I don’t bring good news, Commander,” he said without preamble.
“I still don’t regret it,” she replied.
“T’Sarik, I understand why you did it. But you made a few mistakes. First of all, you didn’t notify me of your findings. You went behind my back. It’s not personal, T’Sarik, not my ego speaking. However, I am in fairly good relations with Jarol and I could have talked to her. Or try to talk to Brenok. He is a reasonable man. Your action, unfortunately, put to risk our very fragile friendship with the Cardassians. For all we know, Jarol could have expelled all of us from this station and you know how important is our presence here.” Since the conclusion she had drawn was incorrect, it wouldn’t have been necessary to stop the Cardassians from committing a genocide, but merely learning what their true plans had been. A different curse of action, namely Ronus’s attempt to gather information first, could have helped to avoid complicating the relations and planting a seed of distrust.
“I do. I didn’t want you to be involved. I knew the Cardassians would be furious that we mingle into their affairs and I wanted to take that fury on myself.” She went to a table and picked up a padd. “I have already prepared my resignation. I take full responsibility on myself.”
“That is very decent of you but you are a little too late. I came with orders from Starfleet Command. You are being recalled. You are not in real trouble, you will be merely reassigned, but the Cardassians must think that we react harshly to your spying on them.”
“A show, then.”
“I’m afraid so.”
“To be honest, I am glad. I never wanted this assignment and never felt comfortable here.” He smiled slightly. It was all too obvious. “I hope you won’t be in trouble with her, with Jarol,” T’Sarik added.
“I’ll manage. She’s got big teeth and growls loudly but she doesn’t bite.”
“I’m not so sure of that.”
“Cardassians like posturing, she is no exception. It’s not malice, they just are like that.”
“Not all of them.”
“No, not all.” He was glad that she didn’t put them all into one box marked ‘assholes.’ “All engineers I met here were nice, without exceptions.”
He wasn’t sure if she joked or was serious. “I’ll leave you to your packing, then. USS Petrona
will take you to Starbase 29.”
He left her quarters, wondering if Starfleet Command would decide to replace her or leave only him and Av’Roo on the station.