Rayak Nor, Medic Fatret’s office
“What can you tell me about Captain Andric?”
Jarol blinked. “Why do you ask me about him?” She didn’t look at the medic, her eyes were on her right hand, which still showed proofs of cuts from the morning. The skin had been regenerated in the infirmary, but the tiny scales don’t grow back within seconds, so her hand was marred by pinkish lines.
“I would like to know how you feel about him.”
“I respect him.”
“Even though he is a human?”
Jarol’s eyes met Fatret’s. “What does it have to do with anything?”
Fatret smiled weakly. “How many humans did you meet in your life?”
“Yes. Personally. How many did you talk to?”
“Who was the first human whom you spoke to?”
“Who was he?”
“A colonist. He lived on one of the colonies that used to be Federation but were handed to us after the Border Wars.”
“Did you respect him, too?”
“Ondracek helped the Cardassian colonists who were forced to relocate to that planet. The Cardassians had nothing and the Federation people agreed to help them.”
“How did you feel about it?”
Fatret was clearly taken aback by that. “Why? Was it so wrong to help other people? Federation resources were not good enough for Cardassians?”
Jarol’s eyes flared with anger. “If you don’t understand something, then ask. Don’t judge me not knowing all facts.”
“I had asked ‘why’?”
“Because the Central Command dragged people out of their own homes and moved to another planet without anything. The government treated their own people like trash, with complete disregard for their needs. I was grateful for the help the Federation people offered. They showed more heart to the new colonists than the colonists’ own government. I felt terrible that my own Central Command did that. I felt terrible that my stupid gul claimed the success to me and himself. Neither of us did that, neither of us helped the colonists. It were the Federation colonists and they should have been awarded for their actions.” Fatret nodded. “I think you owe me an apology,” Jarol said bitterly.
But the medic said nothing. Instead, she asked another question. “What about the times when the Federation colonists turned Maquis.”
“They were killing us, not helping.”
“But not all colonists were Maquis. Did you make that distinction?”
Jarol felt blood escaping from her face. Her hands tightened into fists. No, they did not. She did not, not always. “I don’t want to talk about it.”
“You have already decided that I’m a monster, why do you ask for more proof?” she shouted heatedly.
“You had the man who had raped a civilian executed to stop this kind of soldiers’ conduct and to show your troops this was not right and would not be tolerated. You also prevented one massacre. Why didn’t you prevent more?”
“Because I was angry.”
“With the people who hurt Cardassians. They all approved that. And so did we.” She paused. “That’s not good, isn’t it? That I think like that.”
“Do you think it was fair? Justice?”
“We could have been better than them. We could have made a distinction between those with weapons and those without, even if they didn’t make it. But we were not good at that. We hardly ever cared.”
“Who is ‘we’?”
“We, the Cardassians.”
“So now your mistakes belong to everyone?”
“I didn’t design Bajor and the same injustice happened there,” Jarol barked. “Do you want to pin that on me, too? Yes, we
made mistakes. I wasn’t the only one.” Fatret didn’t say anything. “You have a day of jumping to conclusions,” Jarol smirked.
“I’d rather concentrate on you and you alone. Let’s leave others’ sins in peace.”
“Oh, so the colonists massacres were only my responsibility? Mine alone?”
“I don’t ask who was responsible. I ask how you feel about them.”
“I think my feelings are clear. This session is over.” With that, Jarol rose and left the room not looking back.
“What happened to your hand?” Fatret called after her, but the gul didn’t intend to stop and grant her an answer. She was sure that Fatret knew anyway, or would know very soon—from Laran.
She left the office and headed for her quarters, hoping that the broken mirror in the bathroom was already replaced. Not that she wanted to look at the despicable woman in the mirror; she just hoped that the quarters would be empty and no strangers roaming around with their tools.
Cardassian Union Science Ship Marritza, Gil Kapoor’s quarters
Kapoor smiled to her husband’s face on the monitor. “I hope I’m not bugging you?” she said, literally translating an English idiom. He already knew what it meant; it was their little family joke, as it was no secret that she was terribly afraid of all sorts of insects.
ol’rot me all you want,
” he replied with a smile of his own. “I take it any time over being bugged by the rebelled colonists.
“That bad?” she asked. She knew the Damar
was currently dealing with some disgruntled Cardassian colony.
“No, not really. But they are annoying and I’m no diplomat. But you didn’t call me to ask about that, did you?
How could he tell? How? How was it possible that he always read her so well. “True,” she admitted. “This is...” There was no way around it, so she spit it out, “This is about your father.”
Tavor’s eye ridge rose slightly. “Did he contact you?
Kapoor’s sweet teddy-bear turned into a dangerous grizzly. “What did he want? To make me talk to him?
” he growled angrily.
“I told him to leave us alone. I told him clearly to leave us alone!
” The last two words were almost shouted.
“You don’t beg me for him, do you?!
“No, I beg you to calm down.”
“I hope you didn’t talk to him and just told him to go to hell and disconnected.
“I talked to him.”
“Did he insult you in any way?
“He tried not to but he’s too stupid to know when he actually does that.” Glinn Karama fumed again, so she said quickly, before his anger would explode. “Tavor, listen to me. I don’t want to convince you to talk to him, or anything. But I know that you refused to talk to him completely and you don’t even know what it’s all about.”
“That’s right. There’s nothing he could tell me that I’d be interested in.
“It’s about shri’tal
Her husband’s face changed in an instant. Anger was replaced by surprise and then a calm mask. “He wants me to return to Cardassia
,” he guessed.
“Yes,” she confirmed.
“Did he say when?
“Not precisely, but I think it’s quite urgent. He didn’t look well.”
“Evil deeds return to him?
“Yes, it seems so,” she confirmed with a small grin. She had talked to Tavor about her beliefs, she was happy he respected them, but she’d never think he would start to share her faith in karma. He probably didn’t even realise that himself—and he never named the balance that way—but it wasn’t the first time that he seemed to believe that bad and good things sooner or later returned to you.
He sighed. He was silent for a moment and then said, “Thank you for telling me.
She frowned. “Are you going to go to Cardassia for him?” Tavor nodded. “But...why?”
shri’tal is bigger than my father and me. It doesn’t matter if we hate each other, it doesn’t matter that we haven’t spoken for years.
” She was completely astonished hearing her husband saying almost exactly the same thing that his father had said. “He needs someone to share information and he wants to share it with me. I cannot refuse. I don’t want to refuse. He was a powerful gul and he knows a lot of things. He cannot take them to his grave, because some of those things could be used to help people, or to protect people. I know that the things that could harm people will go to my grave with me, as I won’t burden any of our children with that, but I want to make sure that I have all I need to protect those who are my father’s enemies. And to make sure that his friends don’t turn against me, my brother, you or anyone else.
“It just has to be done. This ritual is not a meaningless old tradition. This ritual is bigger than my father and me. It’s bigger than any single pair of Cardassians. I have to go
She didn’t fully comprehended it, but she nodded as if she did. If he felt he had to do it, then it was good enough for her.
Rathosia, Yapplorettix City, Federation Observation Point #567887
Tibaut entered the bring with a tray and headed straight for the Cardassians’ cell. All three were seating on a bench and discussing something in hushed tones. It looked like an argument, but the ensign wasn’t sure if it was a correct impression.
“Breakfast,” she said and the discussion immediately seized.
Garesh Aladar—she knew the leader’s name now—approached the forcefield. “Thank you,” he said. But she could tell that it wasn’t the only thing that he wanted to say.
“Step back from the forcefield,” Pemutruch, who was on duty again, said.
Aladar made three steps backward without a word. His eyes didn’t leave Tibaut, when she entered the quarters and put the tray with food on a bench. His gaze was so intense that she started to wonder if he wasn’t considering taking her as a hostage. However, he didn’t make a move until she left the cell and the forcefield was back up.
“How long are we going to be kept here?” he asked.
“I...I do not know.”
“No one interrogates us, no one comes here but you. Are you going to keep us here locked until the planet is destroyed? Are you going to force us to die with the Rathosians?”
His words cut her heart like a sharp, serrated blade. His tone of voice wasn’t aggressive, or even harsh, but the meaning behind his words reminded her that the Federation Prime Directive forbade them from doing anything for the aliens on this world and adding these three Cardassians to the casualty tally was only adding to her strong feeling of guilt.
“I really don’t know,” she said quietly. Oh, God, don’t let me cry
, she thought, feeling tears swelling under her eyelids.
“Can’t you ask someone? Or tell someone I want to talk to them? Please?”
“I will,” she promised. She hesitated, but then decided to ask the question that rang in her mind since the capture of the Cardassians and their statements. “Are you here really to help the Rathosians?”
He shifted and she had an impression that he took more relaxed pose. “Yes, we are. We don’t have any laws that forbid us from helping others.”
“Why does the Federation do it...sometimes?”
“That’s one of our missions. That’s what we do.”
“One: it could be our mission and what we do, too. Two: you don’t do it now, so we have to.”
She closed her eyes for a moment. Was that the truth? Were the Cardassians here, because the Federation wouldn’t do the right thing? What did that make of them, the Federation? Another wave of guilt flushed through her soul. She opened her eyes and looked at the Cardassian.
He smiled. “You don’t approve of that any more than I do, am I right?”
Oh, yes, you are
, she thought, but didn’t dare to say it. She looked back to glance at Pemutruch and he waved to her to approach him.
She left the Cardassians to their meal and went to her boyfriend. His cranial trunks waved with a faint sound. “I listened to them all morning,” he whispered. “They talked about their warship and about the Talarians. And about this planet. And about the Rathosians.” He paused. “I can tell you one thing: they don’t lie. Everything they told us is the truth.” He paused again and leaned closer to her. “And it pisses me off that we try to stop the Cardassians from helping. I really does!” The last word was so emotionally packed that he didn’t manage to keep it quiet and his trunks emphasised it by emitting a high pitched sound.
The Cardassians glanced at them and then returned to their breakfast.
“I was in the command centre this morning,” Tibaut said, leaning closer to Pemutruch, “and the commander talked to some captain. That captain knows that we have the Cardassians and wants them released before the Cardassian gul gets pissed, but the commander doesn’t want to release them. She doesn’t trust them. She even told an admiral
that she is against trusting the Cardassians in this matter. She is sure they are not here to help, but to conquer.”
“She can’t refuse orders.”
“They didn’t order her. They just asked.”
“Because she has the expertise in a situation like this.” She motioned her hand around, indicating the study complex. “In the end she has the final word.”
“But if the Cardassians really want to help, should we stand in their way? Ok, the Directive says that we cannot, but do we have to interfere when someone else wants to?”
Tibaut only shrugged. “I don’t understand that, either. And I can tell you that I don’t like it at all.”
“Neither do I.” Pemutruch looked at the Cardassians. “I can’t say I fully trust them, but they certainly don’t appear to be vicious, bloodthirsty monsters.”
The ensign wondered how many officers in the base would agree with them, how many felt discomfort knowing that they were watching a race that was doomed and were not doing anything to stop their extinction, even though it was possible.