Cardassian Union Warship Damar, the gul’s office, Cardassia Prime sector
“I want to do it myself, Arenn. Please. I want this mission.
Brenok couldn’t understand why she insisted to take the mission that clearly wasn’t within her specialisation. “But Atira, you’re a tactician, not a scientist.”
“I don’t want to be a tactician any longer, I want to be good from now on.
He stared at her flabbergasted. “At...Atira...” he stammered out. “What are you talking about?”
“I need it, Arenn. Please.
His face expressed regret. “I’m sorry, Ati, but the answer is no. Zamarran has the knowledge, the speciality and the skill. He is perfect for this task. And you are in command of the station and that’s where your place is.”
He expected her to get irritated—she wasn’t a person that liked to hear ‘no’—but she lowered her head and said quietly, “I understand.
She looked like a chastised child and he felt like a bastard for refusing her request, but duty matters didn’t respect someone’s feelings and wishes. He had to make decisions based on facts, not sentiments.
“Are you all right?” he asked her, worried.
She shook her head. “No, I’m not. There was something I needed to do, but it occurred not to be as simple as I had thought it would be. I try my best, but circumstances and people complicate it.
He didn’t have to ask if he belonged to that group of people—he was sure he did. “Is there any way I could help you with your task?” he asked. “Anything?”
“No. This is something I must do alone.
“And what is it exactly?”
“I’d told you that I cannot reveal that.
Was it all about that dream she had when she had been in the coma? Did she still think about it? Brenok felt a sting of panic: what was happening to her? What was her plan? What did she think she had to do? “Atira, promise me you won’t do anything stupid. Promise me.”
“I won’t do anything stupid,
” she said, looking at him seriously. “I’ll only do what should be done. I just hope it won’t hurt anyone.
“Atira, you’re scaring me. Please, tell me what is going on.”
“You’ll learn soon
,” she said and signed off.
Brenok had talked to Demok earlier and he knew of her strange requests to disown her. He knew that she loved her son madly and would do everything for him, so he could not think of a reason why she would want Demok to do that. Didn’t she think about implications? Children that rejected parents carried a stigma, just like parents who rejected their children. In the past people had been forced to do such things against their will, or taught to do that for the ‘good of Cardassia’ and it had been an awful and immoral thing to do. Now, without the Obsidian Order destroying families, this was really something unthinkable. Laran loved his mother and would never abandon her. Especially not in such a vulnerable moment like this, when she clearly was not herself. Whatever she did, whoever she was, as her son his duty was to support her in her difficult moments to help her get through this. Even children of criminals were encouraged to support their parents; not to condone their criminal actions but to help them with their guilt and admitting to their crime and then with accepting their punishment. Emotional support. For those, whose sentence wasn’t execution, such support was very important to bring them back to society after they’d pay the price for their crime. They would have families to return to, someone waiting for them and helping them to again become productive members of the society, instead of returning to the path of crime.
So whatever Atira had decided to do, even if it would mean facing the tribunal, she would need Laran. Rejecting him, or rather forcing him to reject her, was just simply wrong.
Brenok wished he could be there and talk to her personally. She wouldn’t be able to cut off a commline if he stood in front of her. But he couldn’t be there. Daset’s funeral kept him on Cardassia and he loathed the thought that the death of a man he hated was more important than the life of a woman he cared about.
He was glad, though, that she thought of also other things. She had brought the problem with a star of an inhabited planetary system to his attention, seeking his permission to lead the mission. He had to refuse her request but he had agreed that this couldn’t be left like that. She had warned him that the Federation might try to interfere, claiming that this would be a violation of their Prime Directive, but he didn’t care what the Federation would say—not in this case. The irony was that it had been a Federation captain that had asked her to help these...Rathosians. Obviously, the man’s opinion of the Prime Directive was very similar to Brenok’s.
The gul made a mental note to inform Legate Gortan of the situation, though, in case the Federation would try to use official diplomatic channels to stop the Cardassian mission from achieving its goal of fixing the sun.
In addition, this would be the perfect opportunity to test the new project, on which he had worked with Gul Serfon. Serfon had come with this idea several months earlier and Brenok had thought that it had been something worth consideration. Now he was sure it was a good idea and he was glad he had agreed to give it a chance.
A new, shiny Keldon class ship had left a dry dock two weeks earlier and was in the process of being staffed. The ship was supposed to start from a simple survey mission, but Brenok thought that the Rathosian situation was a good opportunity to put it to a real, practical use and help someone at the same time.
All the ship needed was a name and a gul. He knew who he wanted to take the command but he still wasn’t sure about the name. There was one proposal that had come from a certain Bajoran—how she had learnt about this ship, he had no idea, but he suspected her to know about it from Cardassian news reports, regardless how unlikely it seemed that she would watch any—and he was seriously considering that idea.
Cardassian Union Science Ship Marritza, the bridge
Glinn Yassel shot another glance at the row of officers, promising herself that it would be the last one. And then shot another one. She was nervous beyond belief and she was sure it was obvious. She wished there was an option of refusing orders—she would have refused this assignment. Or wouldn’t she? She remembered that when she had been informed of her transfer, she had been happy. A promotion in both the rank and position could make anyone happy. But then a realisation had come: all those privileges meant the ‘promotion’ of responsibilities and she wasn’t sure she was ready for that.
The door to the bridge opened and Yassel did all she could not to glance at the row of officers to check if everything was in order. Instead, she concentrated on the three people that walked toward her.
In the front there was a tall, middle-aged man, a gul. She knew from now on he was her direct superior and she was supposed to be his aide. The man wore a stern look on his face. This is going to be all but fun
, she thought. He scared her; he didn’t say a word yet and he already terrified her.
Behind him walked another man. Younger. Handsome. He was looking around with curiosity and then glanced at the row of officers with interest. His armour had markings of a garesh. Great, now she was standing at attention for a garesh
The last person was very interesting. It was a very, very short human woman. She wore Cardassian armour and had a rank of gil. Yassel searched her memory and dug out the information about one human serving in the Guard. She was the flagship’s second-in-command’s wife.
The gul reached her, so she extended her hand with the padd that contained the official orders.
“Sir, hereby I transfer the command of Cardassian Union Ship Marritza
to you!” she said loudly.
He silently took the padd and activated it. He frowned. Oh, no!
Yassel thought in panic. Did she do something wrong?
“Are you sure this is correct, Glinn?” he asked her. He had a rusty, growling voice that perfectly matched his solemn face.
“Yes, sir,” she answered but her voice was all but certain. “These are the orders I had been requested to pass.”
“This must be some kind of mistake,” he said.
Yassel felt her legs giving way under her.
“What’s wrong, sir?” the human woman asked in Cardassian to Yassel’s relief. She wouldn’t have a nerve to ask herself.
“It says here that this command is permanent,” he explained, turning to the tiny gil.
“I suppose congratulations are in order, sir,” the human smiled. Was it a joke? Did she joke with the gul? With this
He didn’t seem happy and for some funny reason Yassel felt that they had something in common—none of them wanted this assignment. She felt she was not ready for it—certainly not with this scary man—and what were his reasons...she could only guess.
The gul looked at all officers. He took time to look into faces of each and every of them. His scrutiny ended on Yassel who almost swallowed her own tongue. “I look forward to working with all of you,” he said courtly. “Thank you for the welcome. Now you can return to your posts.”
Everyone spread and only Yassel stayed where she was. “Any orders, sir?” she asked him.
“Yes, Glinn. I assume you have been informed of the nature of our mission?” She nodded. “Make sure we have everything we need. We will be far from home, alone and I’d rather not run out of necessary items. We will leave Rayak Nor
tomorrow morning, oh-seven hundred hours.”
“Yes, sir!” Yassel was grateful for something to do.
“Where will you be, sir?” the human officer, whose name Yassel still couldn’t recall, asked.
“I will clarify this thing,” he said, raising the padd in his hand. “You make yourself at home in the engineering. Aladar,” he addressed the handsome garesh, “Check the equipment. I don’t want to leave the station with faulty hardware.”
Then, he went to his office.
Garesh Aladar headed for the lift, followed closely by—Karama! Her name was Karama!
Cardassian Union Science Ship Marritza, lower decks
Garesh Aladar decided to start from checking what exactly was under his command. Reading dry reports was not the same thing as seeing for yourself and he always preferred the latter.
Most of his life he had served on the Damar
after Gul Brenok had moved his crew there from the Roumar
, so the Marritza
was the first Keldon class cruiser Aladar had set foot on. Very similar to Galor class Roumar
, but the additional modules made the difference. The garesh knew that normally those modules carried torpedoes and served a military purpose. Here, however, they were science labs. He only hoped that the training deck was still a training deck and no one turned it into a giant simulation or testing laboratory.
The troops on the ship were limited and served security matters. Aladar understood that this vessel’s mission was to scan, study and discover but he was not convinced that limiting troops numbers was wise. In fact, he was certain that there should be more troops here than on any other warship. This ship was full of scientists with basic military training and in case of an attack they wouldn’t be able to effectively defend themselves. So if the officers weren’t able to do that well, someone else had to. Who? Militia troops, of course! Why? Because Aladar had no doubts that calling a ship ‘science ship’ and filling it with harmless bookworms wouldn’t stop anyone from firing at it.
He knew Gul Zamarran wanted him here for his specific skill of finding things no one knew existed until the garesh found them, but Aladar decided to widen the scope of his duty.
He had to teach these scientists how to survive in here, among stars and usually unfriendly aliens.
But for now he had to check a lot of things and he had very little time to do that.
Rayak Nor, the gul’s private quarters
Demok returned home completely exhausted. He felt his eyes burning from staring at the computer monitor for hours and all he wanted was to close them and give himself to peaceful sleep.
The lights were off, which surprised him. Shouldn’t his mother be home by now? Or her work kept her in her office and she was busy catching up too? She shouldn’t overwork herself, she needed to return to her duties on a slow pace.
He noticed her armour hanging in its place. So she was home after all. He approached the closed door to her bedroom. “Mom? You there?” he asked. He received no reply and the door appeared to be locked—normally it would open at his approach, as she never locked it. Maybe she was sleeping and didn’t want to be disturbed; he didn’t want to wake her up, so quietly went to his room.
He replicated himself some light supper but half way through it he decided that he wasn’t hungry, he was sleepy. He recycled the remaining food and headed for bed.
Cardassian Union Science Ship Marritza, the gul’s office
Zamarran waited for the connection longer than usually, but he imagined Gul Brenok was a busy man. Finally his comm was answered, but instead of the gul’s face he was looking at his friend’s.
“Tavor, I need to talk to Brenok. Is he available?” he asked.
Glinn Karama shook his head. “No. He’s on the planet. Anything I could help with?
“Well...it’s about this assignment...”
Karama studied Zamarran’s surroundings. “I hear it’s a special ship. The first Cardassian science ship,
” he said in a pompous voice and then more seriously, “You’re making history, my friend.
“Well, I don’t know about that. Tavor, my orders say that I take command of this ship permanently.”
“What of it?
“What do you mean ‘what of it’? I’m not a material for a commander!”
Karama smiled. “I disagree. What’s more, Gul Brenok disagrees too.
“Did you ask him to do it?”
“No, of course not. But I am very happy for you.
” The glinn grinned widely.
“Tavor, I’m an engineer, not a gul!”
“Right now you are both. Good luck! Is your ship lovely?
“Adequate. Full of science labs. And most of crew are women.”
“I promise not to tell your wife.
“Just kidding! Relax.
” An impish grin disappeared from Karama’s face. “Troval, I am absolutely certain that you will do great. As you said, you are an engineer, not a warrior. What a better ship for you? Who would be a better gul for this ship? Some warlord?
” He paused. “Think of it as of a huge, separate engineering room and you’ll do fine.
Zamarran couldn’t stop his smile. “Some engineering room.”
“And take care of my wife. I hear she’s there too.
“We still don’t have the chief engineer, so Jarol let me borrow her for this mission.”
“Sounds like an adven—Sorry, have to go. Duties and all that nonsense.
“Taavooor.” This wasn’t a proper behaviour on duty. Zamarran didn’t know why, but he could clearly see that his friend was in a really good mood. He smiled. “Talk to you soon.”
“Will tell your wife you love her if you tell mine the same thing.
The gul laughed. “Deal. I’ll tell her too that I love her.”
Karama realised what Zamarran had said when his hand was just about to touch the disconnection button. Not enough time to stop the motion, but enough for Zamarran to see the glinn’s face expression before the screen went blank. He was sure that Karama did exactly the same thing after singing off as he did—laughed loudly.
He returned to the bridge to see the bridge staff busy with their tasks. Glinn Yassel glanced at him nervously and her eyes returned to her console. He observed her for a moment and then asked to join him in his office.
“It would seem that this is a permanent assignment for me,” he said. He gestured to a chair, inviting her to sit. “Since this is a new ship without any history of command, there is no past command pattern that I could refer to. We will have to work out our own style during this mission.” He sat too. It felt so strange to be on this side of a desk—his
desk. “As I understand, this is also your first assignment as a gul’s aide.” She nodded, confirming. “I hope we can quickly learn to co-operate efficiently.” He paused. “Now. I am not in favour of harsh discipline and brutality, but I insist on following the protocol and rules. As I understand, our crew consists mostly of scientists with little to none military background.”
She nodded again, although this time he didn’t seek her confirmation. In her thick South Eheenan accent, she said, “They all graduated from the Military Academy as officers or non-coms, but most of them don’t have much experience. Almost half of them never served on a warship.”
“Glinn Yassel, I know habits are hard to break, but this is not a war
ship. This is a science ship.”
of us will have to get used to that.” She shifted in her chair. “Any questions?” he asked.
“I want to hear about both as soon as there are any.”
She left his office and through the glass door he could see that she almost ran to her post.
The first science ship in Cardassian history. And its first mission—to save millions of lives, not to slaughter them. Zamarran was grateful to be a part of it and he hoped he wouldn’t fail. He carried a great responsibility on his shoulders and he knew he had to be very careful what to do with that responsibility. Very careful.