“Out of my way!” Demok pushed through, yelling. He was furious. Not only Aladar had knocked him out to force him into that damn panic pod, but also the speed of retrieval of the pod left a lot to be desired. He stormed into the infirmary. One of nurses pointed to a room deeper in the medical centre, so he ran there. He saw his mother laying on a biobed, her vital signs in chaos and Medic Albek leaning over her with a deep frown drawn on his face. “Mom? Mom?!”
“I told you to leave,” Albek muttered and Demok opened his mouth to protest, but someone else spoke.
“And I told you I wouldn’t go anywhere.” Just then the sub-archon noticed Gul Toral in a corner. The left side of the gul’s face had signs of mild burns and his armour was scorched. “I will keep out of your way but I will not leave,” Toral said in a tone of voice that would not allow any defiance.
“Albek?” Demok approached the biobed.
The medic turned to face the sub-archon. “Her wounds aren’t as bad as it could get. The problem is the head; the blow must have thrown her across the room and she hit her head against something hard. In addition, operating in battle conditions on a station under attack was not a simple task.”
The medic looked the young man in the eye, shook his head and said quietly, “I don’t know.” He looked at Toral. “I’ll take care of those burns now.” He gestured, inviting the gul to another room of the infirmary, but Toral didn’t move. “Very well,” Albek sighed and left. He re-appeared with a medical device and started to tend to Toral’s wounds.
Demok pulled a stool and sat next to the biobed that Jarol lay on. He looked in his mother’s face and felt his eyes filling with tears. He barely registered what was going on around him.
He remembered the History of Tribunal classes at the university. There had been punishments that had been so severe, so pain inflicting that the Cardassians decided to remove them from the list of possible ways of punishing criminals. Demok remembered each and every example, including most horrible ones. He remembered that some of them had made him sick when he had been reading about them. Now, however, none of them seemed appropriate to what he would like to be done to the person that hurt him Mom. Everything seemed to be too mild.
He felt a hand gently squeezing his upper arm.
Brenok and Karama ran. They left their ship and proceeded to the station’s pole. Brenok could clearly see the damage that the attack had inflicted on the station, but he didn’t slow down and neither did Karama.
They reached the command centre and the gul heard a muffled sound leaving his aide’s mouth as Karama located his wife at an engineering station. He ran to her and in spite off everyone looking, hugged her. No one seemed to stare or comment. The family was everything and caring about it a natural thing.
Brenok heard steps behind him. Before he had time to turn and see who approached him, Zamarran’s voice said, “In the infirmary.”
Brenok turned to the engineer. “Morgue?” he asked in a shaking voice. He would give everything to hear ‘no.’
Zamarran only shook his head. Brenok didn’t wait for him to say anything else, he returned to the lift and returned to the pole.
He knew he should be in his office, preparing a report for the Central Command, but he also knew he wouldn’t be able to concentrate on anything until he knew what was her condition.
He was taken to one of rooms in the infirmary. Albek stood next to Toral and was moving a medical device over Toral’s facial wound. Demok sat on a stool. Jarol lay on a biobed, motionless, her eyes closed and her scales wearing signs of an explosion. Brenok approached Demok, put his hand on the sub-archon’s upper arm and tightened his fingers gently.
“Uncle?” Demok asked, not raising his head.
“How is she?” Brenok pulled another stool and sat next to Demok.
“Not good. She’s in a coma.”
At least, alive.
Brenok looked at Toral. The other gul shot a glance at Brenok and then his eyes returned to Jarol’s unmoving silhouette. The younger gul rose and approached the older one.
“You’ll have my resignation on your desk tomorrow,” Toral said, still not taking his eyes from the legate.
Brenok forgot what he wanted to say. He was too astonished by Toral’s words. “What? Why?!”
The older gul looked at him, blinking. “I assumed that’s what you wanted to tell me. I abandoned my post, I disobeyed orders, I ignored the chain of command. Enough to kick me out from the Guard, not only my position.”
Brenok inclined his head a little bit and smiled slightly. He had done exactly the same thing. Did it mean he should relieve himself of duty? “Actually, I wanted to ask how you feel,” he said. “Those burns...” He pointed to Toral’s face.
The other gul reached up and touched darkened scales. He pulled his face and looked surprised at his fingers, as if just now discovering that he had been injured. “I’m fine,” he said at length.
“Glad to hear that. You put up the hell of the fight for the Klingons.”
“I’m glad you destroyed that gapgar
A feeling of uneasiness washed through Brenok as he recalled the unpleasant feeling of destroying the Klingon Negh’Var. “He left me no choice,” he said quietly.
“Shame.” Toral’s voice was harsh. “I’d love to gut him alive.”
Brenok turned slightly to look at Jarol. “We have to find whoever did this,” he muttered.
“If I’m not relieved then I volunteer.”
Toral’s head turned sharply. “No?!” he exclaimed, interrupting Brenok. “What do you mean ‘no?’”
“Both of us are too involved emotionally. We need an outsider. Colissa would be the first to tell you that.”
“To hell with her.”
“He’s right, Toral.” Demok didn’t move and was still turned to them with his back but his voice was loud enough for them to hear. “Every evidence that you would collect would be rejected as not sufficiently impartial. That also includes you, Uncle.”
Brenok nodded even though Demok couldn’t see it. “I know. That’s why I intend to call Gul Moddar.”
“Moddar!” Toral shouted.
“That’s right. He’s a good investigator.”
want to do it,” the older gul hissed.
Brenok shook his head. “No. I understand you perfectly, but no.”
Toral shifted in place and his eyes returned to motionless Jarol. Brenok was just about to sit back on the stool when he saw Toral’s eye ridges going wider. His ears registered panicked “Mom!” in Demok’s voice.
Jarol was trashing on the biobed like a fish out of water. Taret and Albek materialised literally from nowhere with scanners in their hands. Nurse Rolkan pulled resisting Demok away, giving both medics more space.
“She’s still bleeding,” Albek growled. “We have to operate again.”
His words were enough for medical personnel to start acting. Brenok thought that the infirmary was like a mini-warship with its gul, officers and troops.
“What’s going on!” Demok’s voice wasn’t demanding information, it was pleading. However, his plea was not answered, as both medics were too busy.
“Gul Brenok, we need a neurologist, soon!” Taret shouted to the gul before disappearing in the operation room.
“I’ll send a request to Carda—” Brenok started but didn’t finish. Nerot
, he thought. The new medic was very young but he was a neurologist. The gul pressed his wristcomm. “Nerot, report to the station’s infirmary. Yesterday!”
The reply came immediately. “Affirmative!
Archon Colissa walked to the infirmary, knowing that it was the place where she would find the sub-archon. She recovered from the shock of experiencing a battle and a civilian safety capsule and was again her resolute self. She was close enough to see the door to the infirmary, when the door opened and several people left the medical centre, Demok among them. She approached them, nodded polite greetings to two guls and looked at the young man between them.
“How is she?” she asked.
He shook his head. “Not good.”
Colissa looked at both soldiers and they understood her signal. They excused themselves and went their ways. She put her hand on Demok’s elbow and pulled him away toward the bulkhead.
“Sub-archon, do you need a few days off or would you prefer to be buried with work to keep your mind busy?” she asked.
He looked at her without comprehension in his eyes. “What?”
“I would give you a few days off, if you want them. However, I know I’d prefer to stay busy myself.”
“I don’t know,” he whispered.
Her heart ached. She didn’t like and didn’t respect Jarol, but she grew to like her son. Demok was a hard-working and a skilled young man and even if she was forced to accept him due to nepotism, she didn’t complain about it any longer. In fact, she thought that keeping this talented Cardassian on the station was hurting his future. On Cardassia he would have more career opportunities than on Rayak Nor
. And now, watching him was breaking her heart. His mother, whatever she was like, was important to him. He was a filial son and Colissa valued that.
“What is her condition?” she asked.
“They operate. Again. Third time. Her brain was damaged.”
“My investigators are already on it,” Colissa said. “Of course you realise that you cannot be part of the tribunal in this case, but let me assure you: whoever did this, he or she will be punished.”
Demok gave her a blank stare. It doesn’t matter what I say
, she thought. It doesn’t diminish his pain and worry
She let go of his elbow. “You have two days off,” she said. “Please return to work a day after tomorrow.”
He didn’t nod, he didn’t do anything that would confirm he heard her. Before she realised what she was doing, her hand moved up and gently stroke his cheek. It didn’t take much to imagine her own son or grandson in pain. All children were so similar, so vulnerable.
She smiled to him and left. Walking back toward the turbolift, she turned her head to look at him. He still stood in the same place that she had left him. His eyes were glued to the infirmary door.
Brenok returned to the command centre. Passing by the engineering console, at which the chief engineer worked, he said, “Zamarran.” The engineer followed the gul to the office.
“Sir?” Zamarran asked.
“I’m taking command of Rayak Nor
for the time being,” Brenok informed him. The relief on Zamarran’s face was very clear. “You will take care of repairs schedule. The station is priority, then take care of Toral’s warship. The Damar
is at the end of the list. Employ Ya’val’s engineers if you don’t have enough.”
“Dismissed.” However, Zamarran didn’t leave. “Anything else?” Brenok asked him.
“How is she? I had no time to get down to the infirmary and check myself.”
“Bad. She’s got some brain damage and as far as I understand, her condition is not improving. Three medics are operating her as we speak.”
Zamarran shook his head. “This is so terrible. Who will lead the investigation to find the assassin?” he asked.
“I will contact Gul Moddar in a moment. I hope we have enough kanar
on the station for his crew.”
Zamarran knitted his eyebrows. “I’m afraid I don’t follow.”
“Moddar is an ass and every ass-y gul’s crew drinks a lot. You never noticed that?”
“No, not really. I never drank and I don’t recall you doing that.”
“Have you even served under an ass-y gul?”
“No, not really. First it was Gul Corak, then Gul Jarol, then you.”
“Thank you.” Brenok’s face brightened for a second. “Well, not everyone is as lucky to serve under good guls. Some serve under Gul Moddars. And they relieve the stress in kanar
“I’d rather employ his crew for repairs.”
“Feel free to do that.”
Zamarran nodded and left the office.
Brenok sat at Jarol’s desk and sighed. He had to talk to Legate Ekoor too.
Demok paced in front of the closed door to the infirmary and almost jumped startled when the door finally slid open.
A young man left it; someone that Demok didn’t know. The man wore a medic outfit. “You be Sub-archon Demok?” he asked.
“Please come in. I have things to tell you.”
Demok followed him into the infirmary and then deeper, into a post-operation chamber. They stood by Jarol’s biobed—the sub-archon was relieved to see that she was still alive—and the young medic handed the lawyer a padd.
“Your mother in a coma, as her brain injuries be quite severe. There was-be haemorrhaging but we managed to stop it. Her condition critical, but stable.”
Demok had problems with following the medic’s words. The man’s grammar was...weird.
“What about the coma?” he asked.
The medic sighed. “It be a result of her brain injury. We cannot tell how serious it be regarding her abilities after she wakes up...if
she wakes up.”
“You mean...you don’t know?” Some good news, please...Demok desperately needed something good.
“There be a threshold...If she doesn’t wake up within the next ten hours, it means her injuries severe. She may wake up after that—weeks, months or even years later—but most likely brain injury would be obvious in some of her functions, either intellectual or physical.”
“Oh, no,” Demok moaned.
“If she wakes up before that ‘deadline,’ she should be fine.”
“Are you able to determine what might happen?”
The medic shook his head. “Sorry, no. I don’t want to promise you things that don’t depend on me.”
“Can I stay with her?”
“Of course. There be nothing else we could do.”
Demok sat on a stool. He felt like he was just about to faint.
It had taken Brenok over two hours to explain to Legate Ekoor in detail what had happened on Rayak Nor
. Ekoor had listened to the gul, rarely interrupting to ask questions. Then he had said that a special session of the Central Command would have to be called and had warned Brenok to be ready for it within a few hours and make himself available.
The conversation exhausted Brenok. He moved his right shoulder, feeling tension growing. How much time until the tension would turn into pain?
He left the office and headed for the infirmary.
When he entered the medical centre, he saw Medic Taret and Medic Nerot conversing.
“How is she?” The gul guessed that the operation was over and that she lived. None of them would dare not to inform him immediately.
Taret looked at the younger medic. Nerot cleared his throat and said, “Her condition stable but without change. She be still comatose.”
“Hard to tell at this moment. We should know more in a few hours.”
“How are you, sir?” Taret asked.
“Actually...” Brenok looked at his right hand. “Actually I have been experiencing a mild discomfort.”
A medical scanner appeared in Taret’s hand immediately. “What kind of discomfort?” he asked, moving the scanner over Brenok’s shoulder.
“No, not there. It’s about my hand. My fingers go a bit numb.” The medic scanned Brenok’s palm. “It started a few days ago.”
“Why didn’t you say?” Nerot frowned.
“I didn’t think it was anything serious.”
“In your condition, sir, everything be serious and should be taken care of immediately.” Nerot’s tone of voice was clearly chastising.
Taret shot a look at the young medic—a mixture of surprise and amusement. Brenok didn’t remember when was the last time that someone talked to him like to a naughty child.
The gul shrugged. “It’s just numb fingers.”
“It would be ‘just numb finger’ in case of anyone else, sir. You, Gul, be not ‘anyone else.’ You need to take extra care of yourself.”
“Do your fingers also get cold?” Taret asked. Brenok had an impression that the older medic interrupted the younger one not to let him say something that would go too far.
“No,” Brenok said, shaking his head. “Only a bit numb. It passes after a few hours each time.”
“You experience it now?” Nerot asked.
“Please go to the examination room with me.”
“I need to do some poking and you don’t want me to do that in an open infirmary room, Gul.”
Brenok stared at Nerot. Taret’s expression remained surprised but his amusement clearly raised; he pursed his lips not to smile.
“Poking?” Brenok repeated.
“This way.” Nerot motioned toward one of adjacent rooms.
The gul looked at Taret.
“He is your medic now, sir,” the old medic commented. “And he is
a neurologist. A good one. Don’t let his age—or unusual behaviour—fool you.”
Brenok followed Nerot, who wore an expectant expression on his face. Obviously, the young medic didn’t take ‘no’ for an answer. Even from his gul.
“Please sit down, sir.” Brenok sat. “I will run a few scans and then I will have to perform a few mechanical tests. Some of them require me to touch you. You can refuse, however for the examination to be really informing, I’d rather you agreed.” He paused, so Brenok gathered he waited for an answer.
The gul sighed. Nerot was a medic, after all. “Perform the full examination.”
The whole process took less than Brenok expected. Nerot studied his scar, manually examined Brenok’s shoulder and hand, performing a few physical reaction tests, made a few scans and finally entered some information into the database. Then, he looked at Brenok. “I will-be keep observing that new symptom,” he said. “Please let me know if it changes and strengthens. It could be a beginning of additional complications or nerve deterioration, I can’t tell yet. I’ll also have to consult the database regarding the details of your operation.”
“Should I worry?”
“I don’t know.”
Brenok didn’t like the sound of that but appreciated that the medic didn’t feed him with false promises. “Is that all?”
The gul rose and headed for the exit, but stopped and turned to the medic. “Nerot, I find it amusing, but remember to show some deference when dealing with high ranking officers.”
The medic’s mouth opened a little and his eye ridges went wide. “Oh, I be so sorry, sir! Be I disrespectful? I be so sorry!”
Brenok raised his hand. “No harm done. But keep it in mind.”
Nerot squared his shoulders. “Yes, Gul. I will-be, Gul.”
Brenok returned to the main infirmary chamber. He went to Taret. “What do you think of him?”
“His unbelievably young, unbelievably skilled and unbelievably putting his patients’ good before their rank.” Taret smiled. “You’re in good hands, sir. He won’t take a ‘no’ even from you.”
Brenok didn’t manage to stop a smile from appearing on his face, hearing that Taret voiced his own earlier thoughts. “Splendid. Should I execute him now?”
Taret chuckled. “Wait until he cures you.”
Brenok’s eyes went to the post-op chamber. “Will he cure her?”
“We did all we can. Now it depends on her.”
Brenok nodded and slowly left the infirmary.