Gul Brenok was in his office, sitting in his chair and looking at a very young Cardassian on the other side of the desk. I was never
, he thought, knowing very well that he had been and what kind of huge responsibility had been placed on his shoulders when he had been not much older than twenty-nine years old new medic.
“So, Medic Nerot, what is your speciality?” he asked his new officer.
“Neurology, Gul.” Kara Nerot had come aboard as a replacement for late Medic Boreep. He was young, eager and never set his foot on Cardassia Prime or any other planet of the core system. From his file, Brenok had learnt that Nerot hailed from one of oldest colonies of the Hebitian Republic and it indeed was obvious in the young man’s demeanour and speech. The colony—the third world colonised by the Hebitians—was old enough and separated from Cardassia Prime for sufficiently long period for its inhabitants to develop significant cultural differences. Brenok thought it would be refreshing—and most likely funny at times—to have this Cardassian aboard.
“And you have graduated the Secondary Military Academy.”
“That be correct.” Lack of conjugation of ‘to be’ was the first thing he noticed about the language differences. But who he was to judge; his own heavy Lakarian accent and ‘outdated’ vocabulary caused appearance of more than one smile on people’s faces.
“And you studied at two medical faculties.” Brenok raised his eyes from a padd from which he had read the data and looked at Nerot. “Are you some kind of genius?”
“I don’t know that, Gul,” he replied seriously and then added with a small grin, “But I try.”
The gul laughed and then he felt that something changed. The thrum of engines intensified and the deck under his boots started to vibrate differently. He looked out of the window and realised the Damar
“What a...?” He rose from the chair and headed for the door to go out to the bridge to chastise whoever dared to change the speed without even informing him, let alone asking.
He arrived to the door that opened but instead of going out to the bridge, he was pushed back in by Glinn Karama. Mutiny?
was Brenok’s first thought, no matter how ridiculous it seemed. He saw no other explanation.
“Out!” Karama barked to Nerot who immediately left. “Something has happened on Rayak Nor
,” Karama said to the gul. Brenok closed his mouth and decided to listen; he hoped Karama had a good explanation for being rude to the new medic. “There was an attempt of assassination.”
The gul’s heart sank in his chest and a second later it started to beat fast and loudly—he was sure his aide could hear the noise through his armour. His mind started to work: there was only one person aboard the station that could have drawn enough attention and whose death would have enough meaning to risk infiltrating Rayak Nor
. Still, he hoped he was wrong for he knew he could not bear any more tragedies and deaths in his family.
“Jarol,” the glinn whispered, his voice slightly trembling.
“How is she?” The word ‘attempt’ meant that the assassination was not successful, correct? Correct?! Please, please...
“I don’t know.”
Brenok pushed the glinn out of his way and rushed to the bridge. Karama followed him. “We’re already on our way to the station, best speed,” he informed his gul.
“Get me anyone on the station,” Brenok demanded, sitting in his chair.
He hoped that someone would tell him that nothing bad had happened, that it had been just an attempt and it had failed. He hoped to see Atira’s face on the screen, telling him that it had been close but no one had been hurt, except for the sloppy assassin.
The True Way? What would they want from her now, after she was no longer in politics, after she withdrew to a point that wasn’t even advising anyone?
“I can’t contact the station,” Gil Tari reported.
“What?! Why?” Something was wrong, something was very, very wrong.
“After we had received the partial message about the bombing, all communication from the station seized. I think it’s some kind of dampening field.” He turned to look at Brenok. “I also think that this dampening field causes the message to reach us incomplete. The activation of the field truncated the message.”
Brenok felt frustration pulling his face features. He breathed the air out loudly and looked at Ya’val. “How much more can we make?”
“Without falling apart? Maybe up to warp nine point seven but not for too long. We’d have to slow down after twenty, twenty-five minutes.”
“Helm, do what he says.” It wouldn’t take longer than thirty minutes to reach the station. For the first time Brenok regretted that the Mar’kuu class was built to fight, not to race. “Communication, keep trying to contact the station.”
Both officers acknowledged their orders.
She couldn’t be dead, she couldn’t, she just couldn’t. He was ordering her to be alive.
“Helm, change course for Rayak Nor
,” Toral ordered. He ignored Korel’s asking look, but the glinn didn’t want to give up, obviously, as he approached his gul.
He leaned toward his commanding officer and quietly said, “Sir, shouldn’t we continue our patrol? We can’t leave this part of space unprotected, especially after the build-up of the Klingon fleet that had been detected two weeks ago.” Toral shot his aide a glance that could kill. “Shouldn’t we at least consult with Gul Brenok?” Korel bravely looked in his gul’s angry eyes.
To hell with Brenok
, Toral wanted to yell. “We will proceed to Rayak Nor
, maximum warp,” he hissed through his clenched teeth. “Inform other patrol ships and order them to regroup to fill the gap.”
Toral knew it was not wise, he knew it could—and most likely would—cost him his career but he didn’t care. He had to know what happened, he had to know who killed her and why. And then he would gut that murderer alive to show him the stone in his chest instead of the heart.
“I can’t reach the station to confirm it, sir,” Yamuc reported. “They seem to have a communication blackout.” He studied his display. “No, I take that back. It’s a dampening field.”
“A dampening field?” Toral repeated. “Is someone trying to prevent us from contacting the station?”
“I would appear so, sir.”
“Why?” Yamuc only shook his head. “Keep trying,” Toral said. “I want to know what’s going on.”
Maybe it was not the end yet. Maybe there was hope. Maybe the message was damaged because of the field and it didn’t really say that she had been killed.
If she were alive, he would go to her and tell her. He would tell her everything; he would tell her that she was beautiful, he would tell her that she was for him like a forest nymph in a desert, like a drop of water in a long dry season, a safe shelter during a sand storm, the air in vacuum of outer space. He would go to her with another box of chocolates in one hand and his heart in the other one and he would tell her that there was no other than her for him. He would beg for her good word and crawl at her feet, asking for a smile. He would court her, yes, he would find courage to do that and he wouldn’t stop until she’d tell him to go to hell or accept him.
If she only would still be alive.
But everything seemed to indicate that it was too late for that...
“Tassar, what are you muttering there?” he asked, seeing that his helm officer’s mouth kept moving, although he couldn’t hear anything. Did the glinn silently comment his orders? His wrong
orders? Yes, he knew what he was doing right now was a career suicide but he didn’t care. There were more important things in life than a gul’s chair.
“I’m praying, sir,” Tassar replied.
“Oh.” That was not an answer Toral expected to hear. He knew Lorrun was an elementalist, he heard ‘gods-who-are-not’ from his mouth too many times not to know, but Tassar? Elementalists didn’t pray, so the glinn had to be an Oralian. “Please, continue,” he said softer.
At this point he would accept help from anyone, even a deity in whom he did not believe.
Brenok managed not to ask ‘how much longer?’ but it was getting harder with each minute. He felt his frustration growing and hoped it wouldn’t reach the point where he would start taking it on his crew. It was not their fault that the space was too big, or the warship too slow, or the station too far.
Karama reported something about the Radalar
regrouping their patrol schedule but Brenok didn’t really listen. Does it make me a bad gul?
he wondered. Does it make me weak that I forget about everything for one person?
He turned to his aide. “Why do they regroup? Any trouble there?”
Karama shook his head. “No, sir. Toral’s ship abandoned its post and heads for the station. They need to fill the void he left.”
Brenok knew he should be irritated. Toral had a lot of freedom in his actions but he could at least inform him... Didn’t he just do that? Inform him? After
the fact, obviously.
He loved her. Somehow this rang louder in Brenok’s mind than abandoned duty. He loved her more than his career and he cared about her more than about his duties. Maybe that’s why Brenok wasn’t angry with him—he could perfectly understand Toral’s feelings and his actions. Wasn’t he himself leaving everything and going to her? His crew knew he would do exactly that and Karama had given orders that he would issue himself once he would learn about the assassination.
“Coming out of warp, sir,” Gil Tosen reported.
“Can you hail the station?” Brenok asked Tari but before the communication officer answered, Dole activated the main viewer.
!” the tactician exclaimed.
Brenok turned sharply to him to remind him that he would not accept such language on the bridge, but he caught something with the corner of his eye. Instead of chastising Dole, he glanced at the screen and the first thing he wanted to do was to use the same curse his officer had used a moment earlier.
“Shields!!!” he yelled.
He was just about to see in practice how well was his warship built.
Toral was grateful to have Korel at his side. The glinn had sent a report to Brenok, informing the gul of their regrouping. He had made sure the report had been received and acknowledged. Toral doubted it would mean anything, he didn’t believe it would save his career—rather advance Korel’s—but he wouldn’t do anything differently. No more regrets, no more hesitation, it’s time to do, even if it was belated.
“We’re out of warp,” Tassar reported.
“Can you hail the station?” Toral asked Yamuc.
“Sir, look at this,” Yamuc said quickly and activated the screen.
Toral first reaction was shouting, “Shields!” and then, turning to Lorrun, “How many?”
“I count two Vor’cha class and one Negh’Var class.” The tactician’s fingers ran over his console. “The Damar
is getting some beating but their shield still hold. The station’s shields are at fifty percent.” He paused for a moment. “It’s also possible that there is more of them, cloaked.”
“Tassar, can you get me the Damar
?” Toral looked at his officer.
“Negative, gul. The dampening field is still active.”
“Lorrun, arm weapons,” Toral said. Then, he added quietly. “We’re going in...”