Rayak Nor, the gul’s private quarters
Demok turned water off and left the shower booth.
The bathroom was shiny clean and he felt guilty, leaving soapy footprints on the floor. He made a mental note to wipe the floor clean later. He rubbed his head with a towel, making mess of his hair, and looked into the mirror. He grabbed a brush and tried to untangle the black chaos. He swept his hair toward his years, covering them. He wondered how he would look with Uncle Arenn’s haircut. He grinned for a moment—his long hair would drive Colissa mad. Most likely he would have to listen to her speech about an adequate look for an archon. Colissa loved to talk, especially if she believed that her monologues were teaching someone something veeeery useful.
He brushed his teeth and dressed up for the night. He leaned over shower’s drain to remove all shed skin and scales, but his hand stopped midway to the drain.
His mother hated when he was leaving it in the drain, it was making her furious and then she was the one with speeches about private cleanliness and all that stuff.
He barely saw her recently. She didn’t take lunch breaks and kept working in her office all days—even Ronus had asked how she was doing and if she wouldn’t like to chat with him about food or flowers, if she didn’t feel like having another conversation about politics. After returning home Demok was seeing her room locked and he never saw or heard her eating anything. He had checked rations several times and he knew she had replicated something, but he ate more when he was three than what she ate now.
Sometimes he could hear her crying in her room. He tried to talk to her but each time her weeping became muffled. He imagined she pushed her face into a pillow to silence her sobs. His heart was breaking and he had no idea how to help her.
Maybe leaving mess in the bathroom would cause some lively reaction? He wished she woke him up and complained that he could not learn such a simple thing as cleaning the bathroom after himself. He wished to see her angry, to throw thunders with her eyes and frown over him.
He withdrew his hand, leaving all scales in the drain and pulling his face at the disgusting thought of finding it here in the morning. Yuck! No surprise she had tried to so hard to teach him not to do it.
He didn’t clean the floor either. A messy bathroom for a furious morning.
On the way to his room he stopped by hers and listened. He didn’t put his ear to the door—although it was very tempting—as it would be too much of her privacy violation, but he listened.
There was no sound. That meant she cried silently tonight. He had no doubt that she did cry. She did every night, it was certain like the blackness of the night; only intensity of her tears varied.
When he woke up and crawled out of his bed the next morning, he caught her before she left to start her shift. She was just about to leave, but she moved away from the door and approached him.
, Mom,” he said.
She kissed his cheek and then left without a word.
He wondered if she ate anything in the morning. He decided to check when ordering his own breakfast. But first, he needed the bathroom.
The shiny, clean bathroom. It took him a moment to realise that his plan failed miserably. She cleaned after him and didn’t say a word. She wasn’t even angry. She just had made another attempt of ‘I’m fine, Droplet’ before going to work. At least, she hadn’t tried to pretend she still remembered how to smile; her recent attempts were almost scary.
How long would it take? How long could it take?
She could ignore her son, because he was her ‘baby,’ but she couldn’t ignore adults. And there was one—perhaps two—that he could ask to shake her and make her wake from her lethargy.
He wondered...would it be the same if his father lived? Would she be like this now? Would he be able to offer her support that her son couldn’t?
Cardassian Union Science Ship Marritza, the engineering
“Science ship my arse,” Kapoor muttered to herself. “This is a girls’ ship. Cardassian girl power!” She noticed Aladar, who walked toward her. “Finished torturing poor scientists?”
“My bookworms are doing all right, thank you for asking,” he grinned. “By the way, when was the last time you had any training?”
“I’m an engineer, not a soldier.”
“They are scientists and
“Tell Zamarran that and then take him to the training deck.”
One of engineers glanced at them and Kapoor knew why: an officer and a garesh joking amicably? This was something new for this crew.
“Are you threatening me? You’re not Tarub, I’m not scared of you!”
He moved closer to her and looked down with a frown. “You should be, you reach below my shoulder. There is a rule: if you don’t reach a garesh’s shoulder, you shall be very, very, very and I mean very scared of him.”
“Don’t be an ol’rot
, be useful,” she said, pushing him away. “Find me glitches.”
“I found one. You’re too short to be an adult. Someone needs to fix this.”
She laughed. “Aladar, I’m serious. Find me glitches. There is no ship that leaves a shipyard without glitches and I want to know about them now, when I have time to fix them and not when I’m under attack and have a choice between sealing a hull breach or ejecting the warp core.”
“We barely left the station and you already foresee our demise.”
“Yeah. Get to work, Garesh
“Yes, sir! A panel, sir!”
“Work here, at this station. I have other things to do.” She left and went toward Yassel, who was making some notes on her padd.
“Glinn Yassel, I have the report almost ready, but there are a few things I’d like to additionally check,” Kapoor said.
“Noted,” Yassel nodded her acknowledgement. Then she glanced at Aladar. Kapoor thought that she would ask something, but her eyes returned to her padd.
“Any orders, Glinn?”
“No. You seem to have everything under control.”
“You’ll have the report as soon as it’s ready.”
Yassel nodded again. Kapoor was just about to leave, when the glinn said, “There is one thing, though. We need to assess the crew and choose the chief engineer, who will take over the engineering after this mission. I’d like your help in...interviewing the candidates. I have a few names in mind, but if you would see someone performing exceptionally during this mission, I’d like you to inform me.”
“For now, keep observing them. I am sure you know what makes a good engineer, so pay attention to those characteristics.”
Yassel headed for the door but Kapoor couldn’t help but notice that Yassel’s eyes wandered to Aladar more than once before the glinn finally reached the exit. Was she disturbed by the non-com’s presence in the engineering, Kapoor wondered. Or was her, Kapoor’s, relation with the garesh a problem? She knew the distance between officers and troops ‘officers,’ as she liked to call them, was sometimes an abyss in the Cardassian Guard, but she didn’t care about it herself. Aladar was her friend and she was not going to pretend she didn’t like or respect him just because it disturbed some Cardassians.
Aladar, however, seemed to be completely oblivious of the glinn’s interest. He kept tapping at the flat panel of his console, sniffing from time to time and muttering something to himself.