Rayak Nor, the gul’s office
Jarol heard the door open, so she turned to see who was her visitor.
“Arenn? I had no idea you were in this sector.” She made a step toward him, but his words stopped her immediately.
“Gul Jarol, it has been brought to my attention that you are unfit for duty.”
She stared at him. He was so official and so cold. Was he angry with her, too? Had she wronged him, too?
“Unfit for duty?” she repeated quietly. “Who reported it?” Clearly, someone noticed and informed him. Well, it was hard not to notice, really. She was unfit for duty and she knew that. There was just nothing else she could do, but to try to go on.
“It doesn’t matter,” he answered. “I have studied your reports and Glinn Borad’s reports and it would appear that it is him who, in fact, is running the station.”
She knew that too. For the last few weeks he kept bringing her orders to sign. Good orders. Good decisions. Decisions that she had been unable to make. “You should promote him,” she said.
“I might. However, I didn’t come here to talk to him. I came to talk to you.”
“You are temporarily relieved of duty. You will start psychotherapy and will not return to work until you are officially declared ready.”
“I’m not crazy,” she muttered.
“I did not say you were. But you are not able to fulfil your tasks and in my personal opinion, supported by Medic Albek’s medical assessment, you will not be able to do that until your troubled mind is healed.”
“And if I won’t start the crazy-therapy?” she asked. She intended the question to be defiant, but it sounded more like begging.
“I will be forced to relieve you of duty permanently. You would be granted special pension, as you injuries were inflicted during your service, however...” But she didn’t listen to him any longer. The only thing that he had just said that mattered was that he would kick her out of the Guard.
The military service was everything for her; she knew no other life, had no other purpose. It had become a part of her when she had been sixteen, still a child, and she had no other use now. Without this she would be nothing. Completely nothing.
She already was nothing, wasn’t she? She sat on the floor and looked at him. Any other superior would simply issue an order, but Arenn, her best friend, tried to find another way. He tried to help her stay, even though he knew she was useless. No one needed a gul who feared to make decisions.
She should have resigned, instead of forcing Arenn to make this though choice. She knew she should have, but she clutched to her work like a sinking man to a log, because she had nothing else left. Laran was an adult and didn’t really need her any more. Arenn had rebuilt his life and didn’t need her either. And Hatinn certainly didn’t need such a burden; she knew he loved her but she also knew he deserved someone better. Someone who would notice his feelings much sooner and someone who would be a partner for him, not a resource drainer.
“I resign,” she said.
Brenok had silenced some time ago, aware that she wasn’t listening to him, and only thanks to that he was able to hear her low voice. He sighed and sat next to her on the floor.
“Hmm, this isn’t going the way I planned,” he said, wrapping his arm around her shoulder. “Atira, I don’t want you to leave. I want you to start the therapy because you really need it. My little blackmail failed miserably and I probably made things worse.” He squeezed her arm gently. “But you must understand that you have to start your healing or you’ll perish. This is no different from an operation. You would allow an operation, wouldn’t you? This also is an operation, but words are the tools, not laser scalpels. I can’t order you, I can’t force you, all I can do is to beg you to agree. You must agree, Atira. You must.”
She didn’t say anything. She wanted to bark “nonsense” or “zobar
shit,” but she was sure her voice would sound ridiculously weak. She blinked in the attempt of stopping her tears that threatened to fill her eyes.
“Ati, do you remember what you felt seeing me after my neck ridge was repaired but I still wasn’t called back to duty?” She nodded. “Do you remember my condition?” She nodded again. “Did you want to help me?” Another nod. “Now I feel the same.”
“I didn’t want you to see a crazy medic.”
“Because the reason of my deterioration was different. I knew what I needed. Do you know what you need?”
She looked at him. No, she didn’t. She knew what would be the best for her, but that was unachievable. There was no other option, no other solution left. She shook her head to answer his question.
“Maybe Medic Fatret would help you find what you need.”
“The best crazy medic on Cardassia. I have brought her here. If I take her back to Cardassia, you will also be aboard, in civilian garments. I’d hate to do it to you, Ati, but I would do it.” He paused and she wasn’t sure if his silence was caused by her tears or by another terrible thing he was just about to say. “This is the time that you have to make a decision. Not Borad. You. Decide. Therapy or return to Lakat. Decide now.”
She bit her lower lip to prevent its shaking. He was cruel. She had never known how cruel he could be. Had he learnt that from her? Was she that cruel? Had she destroyed him? Had she polluted that young, singing dja and showed him how to be a rotten Cardassian? She gently stroked his cheek. “I’m so sorry, Arenn. I’ve been a bad example.”
He only smiled. “If not you, I would be dead. Twice.” His grin faded and his face turned sober. “Decide,” he said softly but firmly.
“Do you think I’m crazy?” she asked.
“No. I think you need someone to help you reassemble all puzzles of your life back together, to recover the clear picture. Someone who knows how to do such things. Decide.”
“So you don’t think I’m crazy?”
He shook his head. “No, I don’t.”
“The crazy medic,” she said at length.
The relief literally poured out of his face. “Assign quarters for Medic Fatret. Not Borad, you do it. She will keep sending me weekly reports and if I get even one that would contain the information that you missed one session, you will have my official letter of dismissal from the Guard the next day. Is that clear?”
“Perfectly,” she muttered.
“I’m glad to hear that. Now get back to work.” He rose and helped her up. “Tell Laran I love him.”
“You’re not staying?”
“I can’t. Too busy.”
Had he come here only to have this conversation? And to bring that medic for crazy people?
“I’ll tell him.”
He smiled and left her office.
She felt some strange comfort—someone was ordering her to do things, someone was making the big decisions, someone was pointing her which way she should go.
She wasn’t alone. Someone
didn’t come to make decisions for
her, he came to make sure she would be taught how to make them herself again.
Cardassian Union Science Ship Marritza, the bridge
Yassel for the third time scanned the city that the beacon signal had come from, but the result was the same as two previous times: she did not detect any Cardassian life signs.
Kapoor raised her head from her console. “Anything?” she asked.
Yassel only shook her head.
should have beamed the gareshes many hours ago, but it had occurred that the short skirmish with the Talarians had damaged their transporters and the repairs had taken some time.
Yassel refused to accept the assumption that the Rathosians had killed the Cardassians. She refused to accept that they had killed Aladar. But there was nothing. No sign of the Hideki—as it had completely burnt in the atmosphere—no sign of Cardassian life forms and no sign of Cardassian technology. Even if the locals had killed the aliens, they would still have their weapons, wristcomms and the beacon. The beacon signal was gone too.
“Where are they?” Kapoor growled, angered.
Yassel knew that Kapoor also didn’t want to accept Aladar’s death—she was his friend, after all. For her, Aladar meant more than he would ever for Yassel.
Zamarran hovered over Yassel’s shoulder. “Try to scan for Cardassian materials. If they destroyed the devices, there should be something left. If we’re lucky, there’s something typical for us and not available on this planet.”
“Yes, sir,” she confirmed his order—a suggestion, rather—trying her best not to show how stressed she was with him standing so close. Would he “casually” place his hand on her shoulder? Would his finger “casually” wander to the inner edge of her collar? Would it touch a scale?
She closed her eyes and waited but a short moment later she felt him moving away. She opened her eyes and saw that he resumed his pacing in the middle of the bridge.
She scanned the planet for the forth time.