Cardassian Attack Fighter Sufar
The Damar Guard. Two rows. One on her left, one on her right and she—between them, walking slowly. When she reached the execution spot she stopped. Everyone turned and their backs faced her. She stood in the spot and closed her eyes. She waited but nothing happened. She opened her eyes and Mayel’s face was just before hers. ‘You have to watch,’ the girl said and sprayed her with something that had bitter taste. Mayel transformed into her father’s face. ‘I tried to teach you, I tried to show you how to be a good Cardassian, but you were too stupid. I should have known better. I shouldn’t have married a primitive without any education. Burn!” His order set her on fire.
She opened her eyes. Laran sat next to her, piloting the ship.
“We’re almost home,” he said, noticing that she was awake.
“How long did I sleep?” she asked.
“About twenty minutes. I didn’t want to wake you up, you sleep so little recently.”
She wished he wouldn’t let her sleep at all.
On the other hand—she had just received instructions what to do. She had to let the fire from inside her consume her from outside too.
Rayak Nor, lower levels, crew quarters
She feared leaving the lift. She feared to enter that corridor and then enter these quarters. She expected the place to blow in her face again. She nervously glanced at Demok who stood next to her. He sent her a faint smile and she wondered if he could see how scared she was.
Zamarran stood with his back to her and when the door opened, he left the lift as the first one.
She had tried to find an excuse not to come here, to go directly to her office in the command centre, but she wore no armour and civilian clothes would be very difficult to explain. So she had no choice, she had to come here first.
She followed Zamarran and realised that it wasn’t the right level or the right section. Where were they?
The gul gestured forward. “This way.”
“Where are we going?” she asked.
“I took a liberty of moving your quarters deeper into the pole into more guarded area,” he answered. “It’s a bit smaller, but I assumed safety was more important.”
They turned left and she saw a section of a corridor separated from the rest of it by three forcefields, each cutting off a different bend of the corridor from a door inside this ‘cell.’ There were six guards standing there—all from the Damar Guard, judging from their golden armours—two for each corridor by each forcefield.
“Weapons and metal detectors,” Zamarran explained, seeing her asking look. “No one can enter your quarters armed or with dangerous items. Every uninvited and suspicious visitor would be searched, unless you’d clear their arrival.”
She was fascinated. She glanced at her son who didn’t seem surprised at all. “You knew about it, didn’t you?” she asked him.
“I did,” he confirmed.
“I wouldn’t dare to design all this without some permission,” Zamarran said. “I didn’t want to bother you, though. You were on vacations and bringing that...event wouldn’t be helpful.”
She slowly and carefully stepped through the forcefield. She didn’t feel anything, no special sensation. She stopped in front of the door. It wasn’t the same place but still...
The sub-archon didn’t have such problems; he went past her and toward the door, which slid open. She was just about to grab his hand and stop him before he entered, but he was faster.
“I like it!” She heard his voice from inside.
Slowly, uncertainly, she followed him. The first thing that drew her attention was a bookshelf. It was different from hers but one glance at the books told her that a lot of titles were the same.
Zamarran must have noticed where she was looking, as he said, “A lot of them are copies, as the originals had burnt, but they look as good.”
She turned to look at him. “Copies?”
“Yes, replicated copies.”
“Who wasted so many rations for this?”
“Most of them were shipped from the Damar
, some were replicated here.”
Arenn. Arenn used his replicator rations to rebuild her library. Her son’s triumphant expression indicated that he took part in it. She went to the bookshelf and picked a randomly chosen book. She opened it. On the first page there was a drawing of a circle with two dots, a vertical line between the dots and a bent upward horizontal line below—it looked like a smiling face without ridges—and words written by a clearly untrained hand: ‘Books contain widsom, let’s enjoy it.’ Below it were words written by a well trained hand in a handwriting that she could associate with a particular face: ‘Wisdom, not widsom. Someone needs to read more.” Jarol laughed. She pressed the book to her chest and looked at Zamarran.
“At first they wanted to replicate a new one and do it correctly, but then they decided that it could bring a smile to your face. I’ll tell them it worked.”
“They shouldn’t have wasted their rations. I could go on with electronic copies.”
“We don’t consider is ‘wasted,’ Leg—Gul—Jarol.”
“Neither do it,” she whispered.
“I’m sure you’re tired. I’ll be in the command centre if you need anything. Medic Taret had told me he’d like to see you before you report on duty.”
He nodded to her and to Demok and then left.
“How many did you replicate?” she asked her son.
“Does it matter?”
“I’ll give you back your rations.”
“Don’t you even dare!”
“Do you know who gave me those...gifts?”
“Do you know all of them?”
He eyed her suspiciously. “Why?”
“I’d like to invite them for dinner and thank them all. And feed them, too.”
“I’ll arrange everything.”
She put the book back. “Laran, there is something...”
“Don’t unpack your things.”
“I’m not returning to Lakat,” he growled.
“We will find you other quarters. You can’t stay with me.”
“Mom, didn’t you see the security precautions? Do you really think that we’re in danger.”
“Droplet, it’s not about that.”
“We are protected enough. I am protected enough.”
“You need protection not only from assassins and my enemies.”
He defiantly put his hands on his hips.“And what else?”
“Are you going to hurt me?” he asked with irony.
hurting you, Droplet. We already talked about this an—”
“Didn’t I tell you to never raise this subject again?!” he shouted.
“Droplet, this is something you have to do. There is something I have to do and it cannot cast any shadow on you. I don’t want it to influence your life.”
She didn’t feel like commanding at all, but she put her best legate face and said in a sharp, harsh tone, “You will move out and live on your own. You will disown me for your own good.”
“Like hell I will!” he shouted.
“No! Absolutely no!!!”
“Laran...” she moaned.
“I was raised in a three-generation family, without a father and without any siblings. And now my own mother kicks me out to live alone
? Alone? One person in a house? What kind of home is that?! No! Don’t speak of it again!”
“Laran, there is something—”
“—that you have to do, I heard you the first time. No.”
“I know it’s harsh, but sometimes you have to do harsh things.”
How could she convince him? What could she do? She couldn’t ask anyone for help because she couldn’t tell anyone what she planned. She had to do it on her own, she had to go through it on her own, she couldn’t take anyone with her. Especially not Laran.
“I’m going to unpack my stuff now,” he announced and disappeared in an adjacent room.
How could she convince him? Maybe Colissa would be able to do something about it?
To her surprise, he reappeared a moment later.
“Mom, there’s something I’d like to ask you about.”
“What is it?”
“What did you talk about with Captain Lau? After I left?”
“This shouldn’t concern you.”
“Mom, please, tell me. Are you going to influence those people on that planet? Are you?”
“No, I won’t. I wouldn’t do it.” He observed her for a moment and it pained her, because she was sure he didn’t believe her. “I promised to help those people, but differently. I promised to fix their sun. But I don’t want you to be involved in it in any way. You are an archon, you have to be pure from any suspicion of breaking any rules.”
He nodded, accepting her explanation. She felt relief. He despised her enough without her adding more fuel to his feelings.
“Mom...why did you tell me that I didn’t love you?”
The shock on his face was enormous. “Where do you have this idea from?”
“Laran, I had told you some things about me...and I had seen your reaction to them. I understand that I have destroyed all that you—”
He didn’t let her finish. He went to her and hugged her with all his strength. “Stop talking nonsense,” he said quietly. “You’d done something terrible, something that no one think his mom does, something I still try to cope with, but mother! It doesn’t change anything!” He looked at her not unwrapping his arms from around her. “You are my Mom. You always will be. Unless you commit genocide, and right now you’re trying to prevent one, I will always be by your side.”
“But there is something that I have to do. Something that you should keep away from.”
“Because I don’t want it to be attached to your record. You must be spotless. You are an archon.”
“I am spotless. Your spots are yours.” He paused. “What do you plan to do?”
“I can’t tell you. But you will know soon.”
“Is it something dangerous or stupid?”
“It’s something that should have been done a long time ago. As an archon, you will understand that.”
“It has something to do with the tribunal.” It was a statement, not a question.
He observed her for a long moment, as if trying to read from her face what she was planning. “Mom, what do you want to do?” He sounded worried.
“Why now?” he asked.
“Because I need your forgiveness. And you father’s. And Father Joret’s. And Mayel and Corat’s.”
“Mom, they are dead.”
“But they still exist, just not with us.”
He let go of her, not taking his eyes of her. “You will tell me now what you want to do. Now,” he demanded.
“Do you plan to hurt yourself?”
She shook her head. “No. What I plan to do is the right thing to do. Not wrong. That’s enough of wrong in my life.”
“Then tell me.”
“No. Not yet.”
“Tell me,” he insisted.
“First I have to talk to someone. Then I’ll tell you, all right?”
A deadline. He gave her a deadline. If she promised him, she wouldn’t want to break her promise. It would help her not to postpone what had to be done.
“Tonight. I promise.”
There. Done. No way to turn back and retreat.
He went to his room and she looked around in search of a padd. She had a lot of writing to do.