“What do you think?” she asked her son after the captain left.
“I am not sure.” He grinned. “I think you could have asked for a few more details. Right now I can’t say much.”
“Would helping him in breaking his law means any troubles with law for us?” She didn’t want her son to be involved in anything that could ruin his career. And she didn’t want to add anything more to her tally—that was long enough and her whole lifetime wouldn’t be enough to clean it.
“It really depends on what he wants from us, Mom. It seems that he wants to help someone—a lot of someones—but it would mean violating the Federation’s Prime Directive. He doesn’t want to be in trouble, but he also doesn’t want to leave things as they are. He asks us to help him to help those people and he hopes that helping them wouldn’t be violating our laws.”
“Would it be?”
“Not that I’m aware of, but I also don’t know all
details and don’t know what that help would involve.”
“I want you to stay out of it, Droplet,” she said in a firm voice.
He didn’t say anything. She guessed he understood why she insisted for him not to take part in something that could be considered illegal in any way. She was glad he didn’t fight with her on that.
“There is one thing I wonder about,” she said after a moment. “How our help would influence Federation-Cardassian treaty talks.”
“Well, Mom, you were a politician, you should know that better than me.”
She had to admit he was right, but she didn’t trust her own judgement any more. She made so many wrong decisions in her life that she couldn’t afford making even one more. Not for her sake, but for her son’s life and career and for her older children forgiveness. They would never stop hating her if, instead of fixing things, she would keep breaking everything.
“Laran, there is one more thing we need to talk about,” she said. She felt tears filling her eyes. She had made her decision but she had no idea it would be so difficult to actually do it.
‘Mom.’ She loved that word. She loved hearing it from his mouth, in his voice.
It had to stop.
“Laran, you are an archon. As an archon, your life must be spotless, your past must be spotless. You must be clear like a...droplet of water.” He observed her patiently. She took a breath. “I have broken the law many times. This makes the droplet polluted. You...” She paused and took another sharp breath. “You must disown me.”
He jumped to his feet, outraged. “Don’t you ever, ever speak of it again!” he shouted. “Ever!”
“This is the only way...” she moaned.
“I have no father, you want me to forget my mother?! What kind of son would that make me! No! You are my mom. Nothing can change that and I certainly wouldn’t try!” He spat droplets of saliva, shouting at her. He was furious. She hoped he would understand that this was the right thing to do; he just needed to calm down and think it over.
He would understand that this was the only way. He would.
He silenced. He stood there, breathing heavily, looking at her. Quietly, he started to speak. “‘Cardassian Penal Code, Chapter Seventeen, Section Eight, Subsection Two, Clause One: No citizen shall be held responsible for actions, criminal or otherwise, committed by his or her family members, including his or her parents and grandparents, or other immediate relatives.’ You
made that law.” He pointed a finger at her, using plural pronoun, therefore clearly meaning Daset’s government or her generation, but not her personally. “You
made sure this became a rule.” He silenced and waited for her reaction, but since none came, after a long moment of staring at each other he leaned to her and kissed her on the cheek. “Love you but too angry to talk to you now,” he said and left the ship.
She was disappointed. He had to understand that this was the best for him. He had to...
Captain Lau put a bowl full of colourful ingredients in front of Jarol and another one in front of Demok.
The Cardassian woman stared at the content of the bowl. “This is a decoration or for eating?” she asked.
“This is bibimbap
,” Lau said. “Fried rice with vegetables. Here.” He handed her a small bowl with red paste. “This is called gochujang
. It’s spicy, so it’s up to you how much you want to add. You may opt not to add at all. Then you mix everything and eat with a spoon.”
She followed his instructions and tried to dish. “Tasty,” she said.
Her son suspiciously touched green kale with his spoon. He then added a little of red spicy bean paste and mixed everything. His face mirrored his mother’s.
“I’m glad you like it,” Lau smiled.
They ate in silence for a moment.
“Captain Lau,” Jarol said, putting away her spoon. “I would like to hear more about your Prime Directive dilemma.”
Lau felt relief. He waited for her reaction and he was glad it were more questions and not closing the subject. “I don’t want to get into too many details, yet, but I can tell you about the general situation.
was on a scientific mission and one of our tasks was to monitor a society. A pre-warp society. We’ve been studying them for some time now and they are very close to reach that specific requirement for the first contact.
“Their planetary system, however, is in danger. There is a problem with their star. Due to heavy mining activity of the Talarians, the sun became unstable. It’s only a matter of time when it becomes a supernova. The Federation is not allowed to help those people, because they are pre-warp and didn’t ask for help. Our hands are tied.
“There is a chance, though. Their society is divided between two options: in favour of starting to explore the space and against it. Currently the planet it ruled by the latter option, but I was thinking...of a...kind of interference. To help them to choose the other option and after that the Federation could initiate the first contact and start working on solving the problem.”
He silenced an observed her. He knew that his idea was terribly risky and not morally clean, but if his self-respect was the price for saving a whole planet of sentient beings, then he called it a bargain. He knew she had been an active participant of the coup that took place on Cardassia after the Dominion War, so he hoped she wouldn’t have moral doubts, as he did. He needed her. He needed someone, who would tell the Rathosians that there was an unlimited cosmos of miracles that waited for them and he was not allowed to do that himself. His insistence to save them was the reason why his ship had been sent here to a boring patrol mission. Starfleet command wanted him as far from the Rathosians as possible.
“Let me make it clear,” she said slowly. “You want me to become someone’s Dominion?” The shock and contempt in her voice were more than clear.
“No, Ms. Jarol. I don’t want you to take them over. I don’t want you to involve yourself in their politics personally. I just want you to contact their leaders—those in favour of space travel—and encourage them to try harder to get power and then put their ideas of exploration to life.”
She leaned back in her chair and scrutinised him. “You want me to tell them to take power. To remove the other ones.”
The way she put it sounded so harsh, but he had to admit that as much as he didn’t like the sound of it, it was correct.
“Out of the question,” she said sharply.
He didn’t expect such a reaction. He considered that she might refuse for whatever reason, but this? “Ms. Jarol, you know how to do such things. You had done it in the past. I don’t want you to—” He wanted to tell her that he didn’t want any forceful solution and violent actions. He only wanted her to tell them that it was important to try to win their saymic
elections, but she didn’t let him.
“I won’t do it! This is wrong!” She abruptly rose and left the captain’s dining room.
Lau looked at Demok, who stared after his mother with an infinite astonishment.
“I didn’t realise this was a sensitive matter to talk about,” the captain said in an apologetic tone.
The Cardassian looked at him. “It never had been.”
A moment later she was back. “Laran, take your food and finish eating in your quarters.”
“What?” He would be even more surprised if it was possible.
“Do what I say,” she said in a demanding tone, not looking at him but at Lau. Her order seemed to mean a lot, since the young man took his bowl, put the spoon inside and left the room without any more word.
Jarol sat. “I’ll help you, but I have one condition that is not negotiable.”
“You will keep my son away from this.”
“There is also one more thing. I will not participate in any political mess, or cause one. But I have no intention of leaving those people to be destroyed by their own sun that had been exploited by someone else. I will help you, but we have to find another way to do it.”
Lau smiled with relief. “I’m open to ideas.”
“First, I have a question, though. Why can’t you attempt to fix their sun without them knowing? I assume with their limited knowledge they don’t know that the star is unstable. Why can’t you fix it and let them go on living in ignorance of other species?”
“That would also be a violation of the Prime Directive.”
“Because it would influence their natural development.”
“But the problems of their star are not a natural development. They are the result of unnatural mining process.”
“I had presented that argument and the Federation lawyers’ decision stands—it would still mean violating the Prime Directive.”
Her eye ridge arched and a mischievous smiled graced her face. “We don’t answer to your lawyers.”
“Do you mean you would try to repair their sun?”
“Isn’t it easier than playing in local politics?”
“But that would mean you, the Cardassians, would have to do all the work. I didn’t meant to put the burden on your shoulders.”
“That ‘angry’ gul, Zamarran, is a very skilled engineer and designer. I am sure he would love to have a difficult problem to solve and do a good deed at the same time.”
Something changed in her. Suddenly she seemed more relaxed. He asked, “Ms. Jarol, why would you care so much? You know nothing of those people.”
“Five hundred years ago my planet had faced a terrible natural catastrophe. We got lucky, we survived. Natural disaster or not, I would be grateful if someone back then had helped us and prevented it. We wouldn’t be so hungry today. Contrary to what you might think, we, Cardassians, aren’t bloodthirsty monsters. At least...not all of us.”
“I never assumed you were,” he smiled and hoped she believed him for it was the truth.
“Now,” she said, before he could continue. “If you have any data regarding that star, would it be a violation of any directives if you shared it with us? We can gather the data ourselves, but it would take time.”
“It probably would be a violation of something, too, but that’s enough of me being a coward. I’ll share with you what we know.”
“Fine. But remember—my son is not to be involved.”
“I remember. He won’t even know the content of this conversation, unless you tell him yourself.”
“Good. Let’s keep it that way.”
Lau felt relief. He not only didn’t piss off a Cardassian gul, but also had her readiness to help. And in spite of a rough beginning, it was easier than he had thought.
It was such a strange feeling—to watch your own death. To see your own body twisting in convulsions and your face in pain, unable to scream. She was falling apart. First, her heart was removed. It was thrown to the floor and then a small foot in a soldier boot stepped on it, smashing it completely. Corat raised his tiny face to look at her—the other her, the hovering nearby and observing her—and she saw that his face was covered by tiny droplets of the blood that splashed from the bursting heart.
The clatter of a padd falling to the floor woke her up. She hadn’t been even aware that she fell asleep. She picked up the padd; she hadn’t gone very far with her reading and had read merely two pages before drifting away to another vision.
She wished she had a brain damage. She wished she suffered from inability to remember anything and could forget everything a second after experiencing it.
But she remembered every detail and she had to live with it. Until her heart would be torn out and stepped on.
Why were they so angry with her? She was trying so hard. Did her inability to do with things right additionally infuriated them?